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03/04: Review:
"The Nailbiting Continues"
By Martin Patching
First published in the Hemel Hempstead Gazette, 15/04/04

THE HORNETS bagged a maximum six points over the Easter period to keep a little daylight between them and the drop zone. It is remarkably tight at the bottom and most of the clubs concerned in the relegation battles are hitting some sort of improved form as the season reaches its climax.

In front of an 18,000 crowd the Hornets produced a gutsy performance to defeat Crewe at Vicarage Road last Saturday. The Railwaymen - themselves desperate for points - attempted to play football and looked to be heading for a draw when they converted a second half penalty. However, straight from the kick-off Lee Cook’s cross created havoc in the Alexandra goalmouth and was finally converted into his own net by the unlucky David Wright. It was no more than Ray Lewington’s men deserved and the Watford manager was extremely pleased with his players for their afternoon’s work. Ray felt that Gavin Mahon and Micah Hyde were particularly outstanding in the middle of the park.

Bank Holiday Monday saw the Hornets make the long trip to Turf Moor, home of Burnley, for a six-pointer. The home side play an open attacking game which leaves gaps at the back and, as the game wore on, Watford were able to expose this weakness to good effect. Having gone behind things did not look too encouraging but the team were in no mood to accept defeat in what was an entertaining game. Paul Devlin levelled matters from the spot before Heidar Helguson raced clear to coolly slot the ball home and put Watford in the driving seat. It was that man Cook again who stole the show with a cultured left-foot finish after fooling the Burnley defence.

Young striker Hameur Bouazza returned in place of Scott Fitzgerald to give a spirited performance. Hameur’s frightening pace had the Claret’s defence gasping at times and the Frenchmen looks set to retain his place at Millmoor this coming Saturday when Watford face Rotherham United. I hear that Helguson has strained his medial knee ligament and may be doubtful for the trip to Yorkshire. Still missing will be skipper Neil Cox who has picked up a knock in training and will be out for a further week at least.

The Millers are one point and one place behind the Hornets in the league and Ronnie Moore’s men will be determined to retain Division one status by claiming all three points from the game. Former Chelsea midfielder Jody Morris has recently joined on loan from neighbours Leeds United until the end of the season. Morris must be wondering what has happened to his career, but he remains a fine player. He capped a fine performance with a goal which helped United to a 2-0 win on Easter Monday. Watford have reached the 50 point mark but cannot afford to let their form slip as this total may yet prove insufficient to guarantee safety. Due to the fact that most teams have taken maximum points off Wimbledon this season a higher points target has been set and three more should see the Hornets safe - the nailbiting continues..

20 years ago:

In the charts:
Hello, Lionel Ritchie

Division One:
Notts County 3 Watford 5
Sherwood, Bardsley, Franklin, Sims, Rostron, Callaghan, Taylor, Jackett, Barnes, Johnston, Reilly. Scorers: Callaghan (2), Johnston, Reilly, og
Attendance: 8,078

Reproduced courtesy of the Hemel Hempstead Gazette