Bournemouth 1 Watford 1 (Bazeley)
Watford 0 Millwall 1
Sunderland 1 Watford 1 (Moralee)
Watford 1 Wolves 1 (Holdsworth)
Watford 1 Blackburn Rovers 2 (Phillips)
Portsmouth 4 Watford 2 (Phillips, Ramage)
I suppose most people will have fond memories of the Coca-Cola Cup win at Bournemouth. I'm not so sure - for 118 minutes, it was bloody hideous as the rain came down, we struggled to find any sort of cohesion and we missed chances when we did create them (Ramage was guilty of an unforgiveable miss in extra time). The goal, when it finally came, was laughable - Lavin's corner was atrocious yet somehow the keeper lost it and Bazeley touched it in. Bournemouth equalised almost immediately as the game sprung to life at the end. The penalty shoot-out saw Kevin Miller and Keith Millen emerge as heroes (Miller with some inspired saves, Millen by having the guts to take the winning kick) but I just couldn't shake off the feeling that we should be able to beat Bournemouth without any fuss at all. Oh, and Kevin Phillips was hit by a copper's truncheon at the end of the game - an incident that has still not been investigated.
I remember little about the Millwall match, other than the fact that we didn't deserve anything from it. Millwall left it late - Rae's shot deceiving Miller in the second half - and were a little lucky (Palmer hit the bar with a lob) but we just weren't looking together as a team. The confidence, so important in a division that's incredibly even, was ebbing away as the bad results and injuries piled up.
A point at Roker Park was a more than respectable result, even if it was achieved with some extremely desperate defending. Having held out for most of the game, it appeared that Sunderland's goal would win it, but Moralee grabbed an equaliser just a couple of minutes later and we went home with a draw. Gary Porter's absence meant that, just fourteen games into the season, we didn't have a single ever-present player thanks to injuries (little did we know it was going to get worse).
Sadly, the away draw didn't boost our home form. Our jinx over Graham Taylor continued, however, as his troubled Wolves side came and failed to win - Tony Daly ran rings round our defence (a performance that rather begged the question of whether Wolves would have been in trouble had Daly been fit more often) and yet a second half Holdsworth equaliser grabbed us a point. It was a forgettable game and still we were slipping.
The visit of Premiership Champions Blackburn Rovers in the Coca-Cola brought a full house (apart from the away section) to the rebuilt Vic for the first time and we were very nearly celebrating an upset too. Phillips was gifted a goal at the end of the first half (he took it superbly, though) and we applied some serious pressure after the break, coming desperately close to adding a killer second. Sadly, we were forced back and let the game slip away from us - Blackburn refused to admit it but we'd given them a bit of a scare.
I've yet to see us even take the lead at Fratton Park and this season's visit was typically hideous. Kevin Miller was again injured in the warm-up - thankfully, we had Steve Cherry travelling with us to stand in - and we conceded two goals almost immediately after kick-off as Portsmouth (who are crap) tore us to shreds down the flanks. Defensive reorganisation (Roeder never again put Mooney on the bench) brought us a little more joy in the second half but it made no real difference. You could (and we did) argue that Portsmouth's last two goals were largely down to diabolical refereeing (one was a free kick that they were allowed to retake, the other was clearly offside) but, in truth, we were diabolical. It was, in my book, the second inexcusably dire performance of the season - sadly, it wasn't the last. Still, at least we won't have to go to Fratton next season, right kids?