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01/02: Reports:

Nationwide Division One, 29/12/01
Rocket science
By Rupert Licht

If a rocket scientist gets a bit stuck when designing a rocket, do the other rocket scientists turn round and tell him "Come on, it's not rocket science"?

Winning a football match isn't rocket science. You have to score goals and to do that you have to go forward. Now in my lifetime I have yet to see a goal scored by fanny football. I have never seen endless passes strung along the back result in a goal - I would rather be flogged than watch some of the fanny football we have had to endure this season. When they play fanny football, Watford are a turgid, thoroughly dislikeable football team. When they are positive, Vialli's outfit are a joy to watch. Today thankfully, there was a ban on fanny football at the Bescot Stadium.

This was a cracking game of football. As a late substitute for Matt Rowson, I came unprepared for match report duty so, without pen and paper, my addled mind will have to do.

We didn't start very well. Walsall came very close to taking the lead - Nielsen made a goalline clearance, doing well to deal with a well-struck shot, and then Chamberlain made a good save. Our opening goal on twenty minutes was a stunner, Nielsen passing to Fisken thirty yards from goal, then suddenly the Walsall keeper James Walker is dashing off his line and Fisken sends a lob that hovers for a while like a UFO and lands in the back of the net.

After twenty-nine minutes, Gadsby crossed the right and Leitao rose unmarked to equalise for Walsall...but it didn't happen, somehow Chamberlain made a quite sublime one handed save - it was stunning, this man really does get better with age. Many fans wondered why Espen Baardsen was dropped. "He hasn't done anything wrong" was the cry - that's as maybe, but Alex Chamberlain hasn't done anything wrong and he is making astonishing saves that are winning us football matches.

Our second goal wasn't bad either. On thirty-eight minutes, Cox sent a cross over to Nielsen who was twelve yards out from goal. He goes up for a header - and scores - from twelve yards! Nielsen had spotted that Walker was daydreaming in no-man's land in his own penalty box, perfectly placing his header.

In the second half, we were pretty solid and had chances to extend our lead, Issa sending a free header wide of the post from a Wooter corner and then Smith heading a Vernazza cross against a post when in a good position. If there is one weakness to Tommy Smith, then it is his heading ability - he has yet to score with his head. However, I realise that mentioning this is a little like complaining that a Ferrari only has two seats.

Speaking of Smith...our third goal on eighty-two minutes was simply ace. Tommy Smith is with the ball by the corner flag to the right of the Watford fans behind the goal. There are Walsall players all around. Smith makes a mad dash past them along the touchline, makes space for himself and then smashes the ball inside the far post. It was a bit like a goal you can score on any console football game...if you select the All Star team as your side and the Soloman Islands as the away team. A piss-taking goal in other words. In injury time, Chamberlain made another great save from a Byfield shot and that was that.

Nielsen gets my vote for man of the match. It was hard to choose between him and Chamberlain, but Nielsen gets it because he showed how important he is to us. He can win tackles, create chances and he scores goals - that'll do for me.

The key to the win though? No fanny football - it's not rocket science....