Atrocious, abysmal, awful . . .

ATROCIOUS, abysmal, awful - and that is just the A's.You could go through the whole alphabet in your thesaurus looking for the right adjective to sum this game up but the result would be the same - it was just not good enough.

By Derek Davis

ATROCIOUS, abysmal, awful - and that is just the A's.

You could go through the whole alphabet in your thesaurus looking for the right adjective to sum this game up but the result would be the same - it was just not good enough.

Insipid Ipswich did not even get a shot on target, which is lamentable enough, but the apparent lack of fight and ideas compounded what was already a poor showing.

Last season's defeat at home by Watford heralded a sequence that eventually saw table-topping Ipswich fail to win promotion. It can only be hoped that this loss does not spark a similar downward spiral that could prove even more costly.

There is no doubt every single Town player wanted to do well. Each one wanted the three points and a better performance than the one against Coventry, which was better than the abject display at Reading, but the truth is all but a couple of them failed miserably.

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Sito Castro was head and shoulders above the others in the outfield, with a virtually mistake-free game and a focused and well-drilled performance against the Championship's fastest rising star, Ashley Young.

It was only when the 20-year-old, brought through the Watford youth system, moved in from the left wing, did he score and, even then, after Shane Supple had made a wonder save from a Marlon King header.

Supple was the only other good Town player on show and he had a less-than-confident start to the game.

The 18-year-old Republic of Ireland youth keeper also made a fantastic save to push away a Darius Henderson downward header at the base of a post and showed confident handling and a commanding presence.

Supple was drafted in just 30 minutes before kick-off after Lewis Price tried his absolute hardest to get through the warm-up but a heavy cold eventually got the better of him.

Darren Currie buzzed around to decent effect in the first half. He epitomised his work ethic by providing the touch for Jay McEveley to send in a cross and was then back defending when Watford immediately countered.

He also fired a shot across goal that had on-loan Manchester United keeper Ben Foster scrambling along his line but otherwise the Watford goal was rarely threatened.

Foster's most difficult moment came when he had to stretch to catch a Clarke Carlisle back-header, which looked as if it might loop over his arms.

He also got down smartly at the feet of hard-working Adam Proudlock a couple of times but always looked in control.

For the most part, it was Watford who set the tempo and kept Supple and the Blues defence on the back foot. The Blues midfield looked woefully inadequate against a Watford side who showed more effort and enthusiasm.

Like a 100-metre runner who tries too hard, and gets all tense instead of moving effortlessly into full stride, the Blues players looked out of sorts.

Losing the in-form Kevin Horlock and Owen Garvan did not help and the nervousness of the crowd seems to have had a detrimental effect on the players, whose confidence appears to drain away as soon as things get uncomfortable.

Adrian Boothroyd's side had not won in seven outings before arriving at Portman Road but he had them organised, upbeat and, while the Town midfield looked pedestrian and devoid of incisive ideas, Watford were bristling with movement and endeavour.

Both sides were guilty of sloppy passing early on but Watford settled soonest, with Carlisle getting forward with dangerous intent, Young threatening from set pieces and Henderson scorning a good chance after Watford won four headers in succession inside the box.

There was one bright moment in the first half when Currie, Matt Richards and McEveley combined to break forward but Proudlock's left-footed shot went wide.

Skipper Jim Magilton was very quiet but did put in a lovely low cross for Richards but he completely miscued his effort and the ball went through his leg.

Currie provided a touch for McEveley to send in a cross and was then deep to head the ball back to his own keeper from the counter.

But Town's midfield was being overrun, and the defence was creaking, and 10 minutes after the break it cracked.

Paul Devlin delivered a deep cross from the right wing and King rose high above the defence to head down. He was denied by an excellent save by Supple, who pushed the ball up onto crossbar but Young was unmarked to stoop and head in from four yards.

It was Young's ninth goal in 16 games for Watford, who moved back into the top six.

Supple made another brilliant stop when Lloyd Doyley crossed and Henderson headed down, only for the teenage keeper to scoop away at the base of a post.

He did well to keep the score down but there looked little wrong with a Jay Demerit header from a corner that rocketed in but, fortunately for Town, the referee ruled it out for an alleged push.

It made no difference, and even just the one goal defeat could not disguise that this was a worryingly weary and woeful Town performance.

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