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01/02: Reports:

Nationwide Division One, 19/02/02
Paint drying
By Peter Wilson

You could predict what would happen - two mid-table, mediocre teams would battle out a hard-fought draw. Which was exactly what we got. A grim game in dreadful conditions, pouring rain, blustery wind and a heavy pitch. Well, at least the Horns kept a clean sheet, whilst the intrepid 5,500 fans present (1,000 from Watford) who made the game struggled to keep warm, let alone get enthused by anything happening on the pitch.

Lloyd Doyley started at right back, with Captain on the night Allan Nielsen moved to right midfield and Jermaine Pennant moved to left wing. Tommy Smith and Gifton Noel Williams led the line, whilst the welcome return of Neil Cox saw Fillipo Galli on the bench.

This was not a game for the exceptionally talented Pennant - passing football was not at the forefront of most of the players' minds. Probably the survival urge took over, with players seeking to avoid hypothermia by running around as much as possible, with little end product. Wayne "Wayne's World" Brown had a shot in the first half which curled out even before reaching the corner flag. The highlight of the half.

Apart from a few Wimbledon crosses and appalling headers there is little that could be said about the play in the second half. Corners were rare and welcomed as goals whilst Luca's substitutions led to some merriment - when Nielsen was subbed, the captain's armband went from Robbo, to Galli and finally Cox. Obviously nobody really wanted to take responsibility on the night!

Terrible game in terrible conditions. Grim.

Any positives? Well, Doyley, Hand and Cook got a run out to notch up another game, whilst at least the Horns showed a good deal of commitment to play in such poor conditions. Incidentally, with some poor performances by officials witnessed this season, it was good to see the replacement "Referees Assistant" join in with some good hearted banter from the Watford fans. A passing resemblance to Luther Blissett, led to a rousing chorus of "Luther" which he acknowledged with a wave to the fans. Shame more officials can't show their human side more often.

Roll on the Birmingham game, with a nervous 3-3 draw earlier this season, it has to be a more entertaining game than witnessed at Selhurst Park, which falls into the category of "watching paint dry would have been more fun".