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95/96 review:
Watford 3 Sunderland 3 (Mooney 2, Ramage)
Watford 1 Portsmouth 2 (Mooney)
Southend United 1 Watford 1 (Ramage)
Watford 5 Port Vale 2 (Connolly 3, D White 2)
Watford 4 Reading 2 (D White 2, Connolly, Ramage)
Luton Town 0 Watford 0
Watford 6 Grimsby Town 3 (Ramage 3, Connolly 3)
Norwich City 1 Watford 2 (Connolly, Porter)

I really didn't feel like watching football when the Sunderland game arrived - I'd had about enough during the Wolves fiasco and I wanted the season to finish. Fortunately, the players hadn't taken such a defeatist attitude and pulled off a remarkable result to end Sunderland's run of thirteen wins. Having gone 2-0 down, we looked finished and we did so again at 3-1 but Mooney's second early after half-time gave us all hope and we pulled level with fifteen minutes left. It was little more than spirited but it shows what you can achieve just by wanting something badly enough.

So why did we look so lacklustre and gutless against Portsmouth? We conceded stupid goals and failed to use our brains sufficiently to break down their offside trap - even the gift of a foolish penalty for Mooney's equaliser didn't shake us out of our stupor. It was terrible, embarrassing, total rubbish.

Southend wasn't a lot better. Sure, we took a first half lead and held on to it until injury time - but the tardiness of the equaliser just made it all the more frustrating (the lapse of concentration letting in the opposition was a hallmark of the entire season). The fact was that we didn't deserve to win the game and we never played as if we believed that we were going to win it.

We really looked doomed and, to a great extent, the pressure was off the players (plus I suspect that Graham Taylor might have had a quiet word in their ears about recent performances). Whatever caused the Port Vale thing, it was more than welcome. Even allowing for the way that we let Vale back into the game after leading 2-0, hitting five past a half-decent team felt very good indeed. David Connolly's hat-trick won him the performance of the season award and rightly so - the quality of his two open-play strikes was undeniable.

Reading was even better. For 45 minutes, we took them apart - the pressure at the end of the first half was incredible, as we chucked everything but the kitchen sink at them. We were leading 2-0 at the time - had a third gone in at that stage (and we had one disallowed) it would have been a massacre, but they came back at us after the break and nearly pulled level. We sealed it with two more late goals, much to the joy of the Watford fans. This was, to my mind, the best team performance of the season and it ended with us off the bottom of the table for the first time since February.

Having scored nine times in two games, we had to be confident about taking on Luton. The knowledge that whoever lost was almost certainly relegated added a certain spice to the proceedings - shame, then, that the game was as enjoyable as cold cabbage soup. With no central defenders available, the makeshift duo of Steve Palmer and Darren Ward did extremely well. There's not a lot else you can say - neither keeper had a serious save to make. The result did neither side any favours - I could deal with the relegation thing (it wasn't exactly unexpected) but not beating Luton again hurt like hell.

Once again the pressure was off and we went to town against Grimsby, leading 4-0 after half and hour and looking like we were going to make it into double figures. The Grimsby defence, particularly their keeper, had a nightmare - in truth, though, we were just too strong for them. With four attack-minded players bearing down on the goal, they didn't know which way to turn - Connolly and Ramage benefitted again. Having done our best to chuck away a four-goal lead, we finished off with the scorers completing their hat-tricks and everyone went home happy. It was bloody good entertainment, a fine way of blanking out the derby game.

We were still in with a faint hope and no-one who went to Norwich will forget it. It was a hard-fought win - after Connolly's early penalty had given us the lead, we defended too deeply and relied on some Miller miracles to keep us in the game. Norwich equalised early in the second half before Gary Porter hit an unstoppable drive into the top corner. The celebrations at the final whistle were quite something as all the players joined the fans - when the other results came through and went our way, we all went totally bonkers. The Norwich fans applauded us, we applauded them, they joined in with our chants, we joined in with theirs - it was surreal and it was absolutely wonderful. The results left us needing a win over Leicester in the last game - even if that happened, we were relying on other results. Still, we had a chance.