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02/03: Review:
"Christmas cheer"
By Martin Patching
First published in the Hemel Hempstead Gazette, 27/12/02

Plenty of pre-Christmas cheer at Vicarage Road where Watford finally broke down a most stubborn Bradford City. The Hornets' patience finally paid off when Jermaine Pennant was muscled off the ball in the penalty area. The referee somewhat surprisingly pointed to the spot and Watford captain Neil Cox drilled the ball high into the roof of the net to snatch the three points. Watford had totally dominated the first half with Pennant causing mayhem down the right flank. The Hornets had nine corners whereas the visitors recorded none. The second period was tighter but on balance Ray Lewington's men deserved their win. Cox is playing some of the best football of his career and is now joint top goalscorer with Heidar Helguson on six goals - if ever there has been a better captain at Watford I would like to have met him.

Gifton Noel-Williams made a welcome return to action as a second-half substitute. The popular striker was given a rousing ovation by the Hornets faithful and given a bit of luck he may have scored. Seeing his tall muscular frame leading the front line was a joy and the all important competition for places will now increase due to his return.

A board member, who wishes to remain anonymous, has financed the move from Ipswich Town of defender Waybe Brown. Ray Lewington may be able to adopt his favoured 3-5-2 formation from now on. Cox, Dyche and Brown look the favourites to occupy the back-line, freeing Marcus Gayle for a return to striking duties. Gayle has performed with great credit at the back and it will be a difficult decision for the manager to omit Marcus, as it was with Lloyd Doyley. Lloyd has come on in leaps and bounds this year and will have a big career. He is a true defender and therefore would prefer a 4-4-2 line up. The squad looks more balanced now and the healthy competition for places will hopefully bear fruit in the new year.

Two top games coming up, Saturday 28th sees second placed Leicester City as the visitors and on Wednesday 1st 2003 top of the table Portsmouth will be seeking to increase their lead at the top (kickoff 5.35PM).

Have a very happy and peaceful Christmas.


In the charts:
Time (Clock of my Heart) by Culture Club

Football League Division One
Liverpool 3 watford 1
Sherwood, Rice, Bolton, Sims, Rostron, Callaghan, Taylor, Jackett, Barnes, Jenkins, Blissett.
Scorer: Wilf Rostron

Reproduced courtesy of Gazette Newspapers