Watford’s academy head claims “everybody is a bit perplexed” after both Bernard Mensah and Alex Jakubiak saw red in the final minutes of Watford’s 2-1 defeat to Charlton Athletic in the Under-21 Premier League Cup.
The match was a tight affair and neither side seemed able to break the deadlock until Watford left-back Brandon Mason conceded a penalty just after the hour mark, which Charlton’s Ademola Lookman converted. Lookman then set up Kartan Ahearne-Corant only two minutes later to double the Addicks’ lead, before Jakubiak pulled one back for the Hornets late on.
But the hundred or so supporters in attendance had to wait until injury time for the real drama to begin, as both Jakubiak and Bernard Mensah were bizarrely sent off by referee Colin Lymer. When questioned on the double dismissal after the match, Chris McGuane was unsure of the reason behind it.
“Good question,” he said. “We are not entirely sure. We’ve spoken to the lads in the dressing room and we are not entirely sure. We’ll wait for the report. Everybody is a bit perplexed. We’ll wait for report and go from there. There was not a bad tackle in the game. It was played in the right spirit and I thought it was a good game to watch.”
Although the Watford camp were not able to confirm the reason for the double red card, Mensah’s reaction upon leaving the field was that the referee had dismissed him for dissent – specifically, for the use of inappropriate language.
Jakubiak and Mensah were sent off at the same time, but it was Mensah who arrived to the touchline first having stormed off of the Clarence Park pitch. He slammed his boot into the extendable metal tunnel cage. The forward tried to explain to members of the Watford coaching staff that he had not sworn, and that his words to the referee had been “you’re having one”.
Some Watford supporters and players had shown discontent at referee Lymer before the incident, believing he had been generous to Charlton with some decisions. Mensah had berated an assistant referee for failing to spot a foul in the second half and even the usually mild-mannered Harry Kewell expressed his frustration. Lymer had to stop the play and calm him down at one point.
Kewell’s mood would hardly have improved when the final whistle blew and it dawned on him that an eighth defeat in 14 matches had seen them exit the cup at the round of 32 stage.
“We are always disappointed to lose,” said McGuane. “I thought we were good value and should have been ahead. There wasn’t not much between the two sides and we probably shaded it yet found ourselves two goals down. That’s football. In all honestly, and if Charlton are honest, we should have won that.
“But it’s about developing players. I know people will look at [the Professional Development League South] table and see we are out the cup, but it’s about developing players who go on and have a career in the game or get into our first team. Producing players who step up into the first team is how we measure success, from my point of view. We are in a transitional phase and we’ve known that from day one. We had five Under-18s playing tonight. They will learn a lot through adversity, through defeat.”
It was a shame Jakubiak saw red as it took the gloss off another goalscoring performance. His 83rd-minute goal took his season tally into double figures for the season and was his eighth goal in his last seven games.
“Alex is disappointed as he had a couple good chances, one in the first half and one in the second,” said McGuane. “His movement and finish for the goal was right up there, it was real quality.
“He went out and had a couple of spells away from us [at Dagenham & Redbridge and Oxford United]. That was great for him and he’s kicked on. He’s got quality – his movement off the ball, in behind and the way he creates space for himself and others. He put another one away tonight on his wrong side. We are pleased with him at the minute.”