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02/03: Review:
"All out to avenge"
By Martin Patching
First published in the Hemel Hempstead Gazette, 12/12/02

The Hornets' away form contined in its disappointing manner as Derby cruised to a comfortable victory. To their credit, the players battled to the inevitable end, but seldom tested the home goalkeeper. It is the lack of attacking ideas and purpose in the final third of the field which has restricted Ray Lewington's men on their travels. The problem needs addressing should the team have play-off aspirations. A more defensive approach may be the answer, although this may go against the grain somewhat at Vicarage Road.

However, in eleven away games Watford have managed only seven goals and, once behind, have consistently looked incapable of getting back into the game. Having an abundance of midfield players on hand, filling that area of the pitch at the expense of losing one striker in a 4-5-1 formation could be the way to go. Which would leave fresh strikers on the bench in case Watford go behind. Defensive it may be but the Hornets look fragile away from home and away draws would be a most welcome bonus.

Ipswich Town are the hosts this Saturday as Watford travel to Portman Road. As with Derby County, Joe Royle's men have needed time to adjust following relegation from the Premiership. At best, their form would enable a climb up the table to mount a challenge. At worst, a mid-table season of acclimatisation. The Tractor Boys produced a promising display at Vicarage Road last month, grabbing all three points, and Watford will be all out to avenge.

Watford manager Ray Lewington takes the positive outlook and pointed out that all things considered his team are doing well to be around the top six at this stage and praised the squad as a whole for their commitment. Ray and Terry Burton will have been hard at work on the training pitch in preparation for another difficult away fixture, points are needed as Watford enter the Christmas period and the big guns Portsmouth and Leicester are visitors. A tricky away fixture at Wimbledon on Boxing Day with Bradford at home on the 21st highlight the Hornets' difficult festive encounters.

The FA Cup draw had Hornets fans holding their breath - with only four teams still in the hat, the prospect of a tie against Manchester United looked good. It wasn't to be and Watford will now travel to Macclesfield on the 4th of January. "The fixture could have been worth over £500,000," a somewhat disappointed chairman Graham Simpson told me and the funds would've been a boost to the recent share issue which has gone some way towards stabilising Watford's financial plight.


In the charts:
Beat Surrender by the Jam

Football League Division One
Arsenal 2 Watford 4
Sherwood. Rice, Bolton, Sims, Rostron. Callaghan, Taylor, Jackett, Barnes. Jenkins,Blissett.
Scorers: Barnes(2), Jackett and an own goal.

Reproduced courtesy of Gazette Newspapers