Days Gone By | Watford vs. Cardiff City
Wednesday night sees Cardiff City travel to Vicarage Road to take on Watford in a crucial game in the Championship.
There have been 60 previous meetings between the Bluebirds and the Hornets, and before they meet again in midweek, we take a look back at three games where City came out on top.
The first meeting of many
The first time the two met was in the FA Cup in 1923. At the time, Fred Stewart’s team were in the First Division, but Watford, managed by Harry Kent, were in the Southern section of Division Three. On paper, it looked like a winnable game from a Bluebirds perspective.
The first-round tie was to be played at Ninian Park. John Evans had scored a penalty in front of the 34,000 strong home crowd, but Watford managed to escape with a draw, leading to a replay at Vicarage Road. In the replay, City scored through Len Davies and Joseph Clennell, but just like at Ninian Park, Watford managed to get a draw, leading to a third game in nine days between the two.
Villa Park was selected as the neutral site for the match. With ten minutes remaining, Watford were in front and looked set to cause a cup upset. However, goals from Davies and Herbie Evans sealed a dramatic turnaround and City’s place in the next round.
Stewart’s side would beat Leicester City in the second round, before being knocked out by Tottenham Hotspur in the third round, but those three games against Watford would set the tone for the rest of the fixtures between the two.
Big win after promotion
After a couple of seasons away from the Championship, the Bluebirds returned to the second tier ready for the 2003-04 season. After being relegated from the Premier League in 2000, Watford were a constant in the Championship during the early period of the new Millennium, and after not meeting since 1984, the Bluebirds and the Hornets were set to do battle again at Ninian Park.
The visitors started the game strongly and dominated the opening half hour. But a slip by future Bluebird Neil Cox allowed Robert Earnshaw to race in behind and round goalkeeper Lenny Pidgeley to put Lennie Lawrence’s side ahead.
The second half was far quieter than the first, but with 15 minutes remaining the Bluebirds turned the screw. A cross from Graham Kavanagh caused chaos in the box, allowing centre-back Tony Vidmar to power in from close range.
Kavanagh would get himself on the scoresheet nine minutes from time, finishing off a fine move and sealing an emphatic 3-0 win.
City would go on to finish in 13th place on their return to the second tier, while Watford finished in 16th place.
Victorious at Vicarage
By the time 2009 rolled around, the Bluebirds had acclimatised to life in the Championship and were looking to propel themselves to the next level. Since their defeat in 2003, Watford had returned to the Premier League but only lasted one season, and they were desperate to get back there as quickly as possible.
The Bluebirds hadn’t won in Hertfordshire since 1970, but they put a dramatic end to that run with an astonishing 4-0 win over the Hornets on their own patch, their biggest win in the history in the history of the fixture.
The game would mark the 150th career start for the legendary Peter Whittingham, and he got Dave Jones’ side off to the perfect start, as he tucked away a penalty. Four minutes before half time, Adam Matthews stepped up to take a free kick from 50-yards out. Somehow, someway, Matthews managed to find the back of the net to send the travelling Bluebirds faithful into a state of delirium.
City would continue their dominance in the second half, as they scored two goals in the space of a minute.
Whittingham would bag his second, as he headed in a cross from Gavin Rae, before Jay Bothroyd unleashed a fierce effort into the back of the net. A tremendous win.
The Bluebirds would finish that season in the play-offs, while Watford finished in 16th place once again.