This game was very, very friendly and not a lot can be deduced from it. Before the game I expected our visitors to be battling to stay in their present division this season and for us to be striving for promotion preferably without recourse to the play-off lottery. I witnessed nothing to change that opinion yesterday as this game gave little clue concerning how successful each team may or may not be in achieving those objectives.
It was fitting that the two football clubs that are most associated with the late Graham Taylor met in this tribute match. There was warm applause from the Hornets fans when the Holte End sang “Graham Taylor’s Claret & Blue Army” during the second half and both sets of fans showed their mutual respect for their former manager throughout. Graham would have liked that.
My player ratings from what was a low-key warm-up game in which our new signings shined brightly are:
Jed Steer – 6 – I would anticipate that Jed will be our back-up keeper this season now that the injury that kept him out of first team contention is hopefully behind him. Jed looked confident when the ball was played back to him and his kicking was reliable and better than we have grown accustomed to seeing from our keepers of late. Kept out a close range 64th minute effort from substitute Isaac Success out with a little ball juggling and held a low shot on the 83rd minute.
Alan Hutton – 6 – Brought down inside the box in the 53rd minute by Kaboul to give us our penalty. Alan had his usual solid no-nonsense game.
James Chester - 7 – Looked solid at the back as he so often does.
John Terry – 7 – JT looked very composed and found his man on all but one occasion when he had the ball at his feet. We look less likely to concede with him organising the defence and his partnership with Chester looks very promising.
Neil Taylor – 6 – A solid enough display.
Ahmed Elmohamady – 7 – MOTM – Looked sharp and trickier than I had anticipated he would be when making wide runs.
Henri Lansbury – 5 – Hit our 54th minute spot kick to the keeper’s left but Gomes guessed the right way and pulled off a save that kept the score level.
Glenn Whelan – 6 – He likes a tackle, doesn’t he? Looks capable of adding the sort of solidity we missed when Jedinak was absent in games last season.
Jack Grealish – 5 – Left the field on 26 minutes having appeared to have taken a blow to the ribs.
Andre Green – 5 – Made a couple of decent runs.
Gabriel Agbonlahor – 5 – Kept himself busy enough in the first half but lacked support alongside him and faded prior to being substituted. Should have done better on the 2nd minute when he was put clear and only had Gomes to beat but he hit his shot straight at the keeper.
Leandro Bacuna – 5 – Replaced Grealish on 26 minutes. Leo is still waiting for that Champions League club to come in for him and this sort of performance will not have changed things on that score.
Scott Hogan – 6 - Replaced Gabby on 54 minutes. Looked keen to make a positive impact and we will need goals from him in Kodjia’s absence.
Birkir Bjarnason – 5 - Replaced Green on 69 minutes. Needs to make a bigger impression in games than he did in this one to start matches for us.
Jordan Amavi – Replaced Lansbury on 74 minutes. Jordan was not on quite long enough to earn a rating but it was nice to see him still wearing our shirt and he hit a cross that fell to him on the 76th minute just wide of the post with his first touch.
Conor Hourihane – Replaced Whelan on 74 minutes. Hit a firm 87th minute shot from outside of the box that Pantilimon kept out. Needs to start next week.
Chris Samba – Replaced JT on 74 minutes. Not on long enough to earn a rating but it is good to have him available to add his physical presence off the bench in games.
James Bree – Replaced Elmohamady on 74 minutes. Not on long enough to merit a rating.
Up the Villa!