"Staying in touch"
By Martin Patching
First published in the Hemel Hempstead Gazette, 28/11/02
Three defeats on the trot and Watford tumble out of the top six. As I mentioned last week, the big guns are getting their acts together with improved form at Nottingham Forest, Wolves and Sheffield United. Poor starters Millwall and Ipswich are putting runs together to climb the table. Saturday's visitors Burnley are also rallying and will be no pushover. Remember, the men from Turf Moor finished 7th last season. Injuries and suspensions have given manager Stan Ternent problems so far this term, however an almost full squad is available this weekend (kickoff Saturday 3.00pm). The Clarets went on an unbeaten run of twelve games earlier in the season, before going down 6-5 to Grimsby Town. Since that amazing scoreline Burnley are unbeaten in their last four games. One glimmer of hope for Hornets fans is that their defence leaks goals and in fact on their travels, Stan Ternent's team have the second worst away goals record in the division. Watford will need an early goal as Burnley will attempt to play it tight initially. Their recent away form shows Burnley struggling at the back if forced to come out and attack. Plenty of talent on show with the sublime Glen Little pulling the strings. It is a must-win game for Watford in order to stay in touch with the top six.
Goals for The Hornets haven't been easy to come by, the last at Millmoor scored by Dominic Foley. Since the arrival of Jermaine Pennant from Arsenal, Foley has lost his place, even failing to make the bench at Reading last Saturday. Without wishing to critisise Ray Lewington, I do find the situation most puzzling. Add to this the fact that Pennant has been disappointing so far, and the failure to understand the offside law when in advanced positions is a particular fault. Dominic has some cause to feel aggrieved with the present position. I know with young players it is normal for them to show bursts of progress, followed by plateaus in their development. Danny Webber returned from Manchester United much improved from last season, Pennant on the other hand appears to have levelled out somewhat and should it continue an early return to The Gunners' second string may be on the cards.
News from the ticket office is the launch of a special "Half-Season ticket". These are available now at a cost of £150 for an adult. Club chairman Graham Simpson said "The half-season ticket offers great value for Watford fans wishing to be involved in what promises to be an exhilarating second half to this campaign."
20 YEARS AGO
In the charts:
Heartbreaker by Dionne Warwick
Football League Division One
Watford 1 Stoke City 0
Sherwood, Rice, Bolton, Sims, Rostron, Callaghan, Taylor, Jackett, Barnes, Gilligan, Blissett.
Scorer: John Barnes
Reproduced courtesy of Gazette Newspapers