Hornets humble sorry Saints
By Richard Jolly. Last Updated: 09/11/04 7:38pm
Hornets' stings are not normally fatal but Southampton looked in a critical condition after a 5-2 Carling Cup thrashing by Watford.
For Watford, it was revenge for their 2003 FA Cup semi-final defeat to Southampton. That was a time of optimism on the south coast; after this humiliating humbling, the increasingly beleaguered Steve Wigley's only comfort must be that it can hardly get worse than this.
Portsmouth await Southampton on Saturday in a Hampshire derby and Wigley's side, whose four-match unbeaten record was not so much lost as torn to shreds, will face finer forwards than Bruce Dyer and Heidur Helguson.
But both excelled and scored in some style, sandwiching a brace from James Chambers, the first goals of his 92-match career. The substitute Hameur Bouazza scored the final goal, with the ease and confidence that was flowing through the Championship side, but none struck the ball more sweetly than Neal Ardley, whose cultured right foot provided the first two goals.
In truth, it could have been more. Deprived of the inspirational Antti Niemi, Southampton's defensive deficiencies were obvious, the creaking central defensive partnership offering the inexperienced Alan Blayney little protection. The marking was sporadic and ineffectual, the midfield anonymous, the performance unacceptable.
Southampton's Scandinavian central defenders were intimidated by the powerful Dyer, the focal point of the Watford attack. The strapping striker spun away from Andreas Jakobsson to whip a shot over the bar and claimed a penalty after a collision with the clumsy Claus Lundekvam.
The danger of Ardley's set pieces was equally apparent. But Lundekvam conceded a needless free kick, Ardley picked out Dyer and he evaded his markers for an emphatic header.
Lessons were not learned. Neil Cox was left unmarked in the Southampton box to volley straight at Blayney. Chambers was the next to benefit from the generosity of the visitors' defence and squeezed his shot past the rookie keeper. The assist, inevitably, was Ardley's.
Six years without a goal, Chambers had a second 10 minutes later after Dyer outmuscled Darren Kenton and Paul Telfer with embarrassing ease to supply the midfielder.
Watford were rampant. Helguson, only playing after a ban was overturned, volleyed a fourth after the lamentable Lundekvam slipped. The substitute Ashley Young and Ardley made audacious attempts at a fifth.
Bouazza provided it, either side of strikes from Dexter Blackstock and Brett Ormerod salvaged the slenderest of consolation for Southampton with late goals, both created by the incisive substitute Leandre Griffit on the right wing.
He and Blackstock were blameless. But, though Dyer, give or take a letter or two, and Southampton have been in the same sentence too often this season, this marked a new low for the sorry Saints.
Click on fixture for full match summary
|Shots on target||10||5|
|Shots off target||5||7|