Reading 0 Watford 0
Watford 0 Derby County 0
Watford 2 Oldham Athletic 1 (Ramage 2)
West Bromwich Albion 4 Watford 4 (Ramage 2, Foster 2)
Derby County 1 Watford 1 (Foster)
Watford 1 West Bromwich Albion 1 (Ramage)
Wolves 3 Watford 0
Time was running out and we knew it. The Reading game was dour and desperate - in the end, we could argue that we created the better chances, particularly towards the end of the first half, but neither side looked likely to stay in the First Division. I suspected at the time that, had Roeder been in charge, the team would have been booed off the pitch and the manager's defensive tactics criticised - that's the way it goes, I suppose. Oh, and Kevin Phillips got injured again.
I don't think many people thought we would emerge from the game against leaders Derby with anything to show for our efforts - I certainly didn't. This was a one-sided match and we benefitted from some very charitable Derby finishing, but it was a positive result - as positive as a goalless draw at home can be, anyway. Derby didn't look like anything special - proof that all you have to be to succeed in the First Division is be effective.
And then we won! It had been a long wait, to say the least, but at least we got there before Middlesbrough. Relegation rivals Oldham looked pretty dispirited but even then we had to endure a hideous last few minutes in which we defended so deeply we were practically lined up along the goalline. Somehow we survived, though, and the first two goals of a remarkable scoring run by Craig Ramage gave us a glimmer of hope at the bottom.
The West Brom game was looking crucial - with the Baggies still in trouble too, we were looking to start taking points off other threatened sides. So, you could say that going 3-0 down after half an hour was a bit of a disappointment. What followed was remarkable, however, and exemplified the spirit we'll need next season - having got back to 3-2 by half-time, we conceded a fourth and looked dead and buried once more. Then, right at the death, two goals in two minutes saw us draw level and snatch a point.
That set up a trip to the Baseball Ground to take on the leaders again. By this time, Derby were stuttering a little and we came agonisingly close to beating them. Colin Foster's first half header divided the teams until the last ten minutes when the referee gave a penalty for a Robert Page tackle - despite the fact that he clearly won the ball (it went sideways, the striker was running forwards). Watford players and fans protested, Jim Smith (Derby boss) said it was never a penalty, the referee ultimately admitted his error - it doesn't get our two points back, unfortunately.
By this time, we were well adrift at the bottom and every game in which we failed to win made it more certain that we'd be relegated. In most circumstances, a last-minute equaliser would be celebrated ecstatically - against West Brom, we all knew that a point wasn't enough so the fans' response to Ramage's goal was more than a little muted.
The Wolves defeat appeared to seal it for us. After enjoying early pressure and missing some fine chances (Porter was particularly guilty this time), we allowed Wolves to have pot-shots on our goal and they duly scored with three of them. It was just incredibly naive. As the second half petered out, the gallows humour was given an airing and we all began to accept the inevitable.