Just like OJ!
Report by Kate Holmes
After the glorious result on Saturday at Tranmere, this was never going to be easy. The first leg had been somewhat of a disaster, and these sort of ties against teams frm lower divisions can cause all sorts of problems.
Being a seaside resort, a lot of Hornets travelled down early and hit the pubs in town. I went down to the seafront, and the first thing I saw was Kenny Sansom standing gazing at the sea clutching a football. We went to talk to him, and discovered that Glenn Roeder and Kevin Phillips had gone for a run up the beach. There was no sign of them at all, and Kenny was getting a bit worried.
When they eventually returned, Kev jogged up all nice and easy, and Glenn staggered up totally wrecked. They then decided to have a kick about on the beach, and started showing off all their footballing skills. They looked like your average fan, as they were making total idiots of themselves.
The weather was quite nice until we got to the ground. It didn't actually start raining until midway through the first half. Needless to say we were on an open terrace. The game was awful. We had the same side out that played at Tranmere, but the players were really struggling. The conditions, the wind and the rain, didn't help much. The first half didn't have too much to mention, and the second half didn't start too great either. All of a sudden it seemed to hit our players that we had to score to stay in the competition. This gave a new edge to the game as we threw everything at them. Colin Foster began to stay up front for longer periods of the game, but we just could not get anything. Tommy Mooney and Jamie Moralee were battling so hard up front, but nothing was coming off.
The game seemed destined to go to extra time, which it did. I was told by a friend of mine that we were going to score a last minute winner. I was not convinced - a goal just did not seem likely. I moved nearer the back of the terrace so that I had a better view, and to try and change our luck. Extra time was just pure desperation. The first half saw us camped in their area, but we were not creating enough chances for all our possession. Craig Ramage got on the end of a Mooney cross and, with the net gaping, managed to put the ball wide.
The second half was even more frantic. You could see the desperation on the players faces, and the fans were really giving them support. The noise level was incredible, but still we just could not score. Mooney put the ball just wide, Moralee hit the side netting, and the keeper saved another shot which went wide for a goal kick somehow.
We moved into the last minute of extra time, one minute from going out like Scum did, and Moralee still battling away won us a corner. This was our last chance. The corner came over, and the keeper came for it. He jumped up with a Watford player, and the ball fell loose. I was just waiting for the whistle from the ref for the usual foul on the keeper, but for once it never came. Darren Bazeley (apparently, I couldn't see it) managed to put the ball in the back of the net. Nobody could believe it - we had just got out of jail (just like OJ Simpson). What a totally wild celebration - it was brilliant. All we had to do was hold on for a couple of minutes, there hadn't been any stoppages. The game now changed totally to Bournemouth attacking. Kevin Miller was looking great in goal, and every time we cleared the ball we were expecting the ref to whistle. Moralee was substituted, and Geoff Pitcher came on for him, but still the ref didn't whistle. We were well into the fourth minute of injury time when the unthinkable happened. A shot of theirs hit the bar and just when we were thinking we had ridden our luck, the ball somehow went in. This meant one thing - penalties.
I have seen Watford involved in two penalty shoot outs before, both in the Simod cup so they didn't matter. The utter despair we all felt at that cruel equaliser was added to by the thought of our wonderful penalty taking record. The first thing was to see which end we were taking the penalties. Bearing in mind how close we were to the goal - you could almost touch the net from the terrace - this was very important. Thankfully it went in our favour, so it was down our end. This meant that they were taking their penalties first.
Their first penalty went in, our first was taken by Steve Palmer, the new boy. He proved to be a true Hornet by missing. That absolutely killed us. The tension was unbelievable, especially when their second went in. Darren Bazeley, on as sub for Gary Porter, came up to take his. The ball hit the post and, for about three hours, it seemed that it wasn't going in. Thankfully it did. They scored their third, and so did we through either Tommy Mooney or Geoff Pitcher - I can't remember the order of them. Kevin Miller superbly saved their fourth penalty, much to our serious joy. So the game was levelled by either Mooney or Pitcher. Their fifth went in and it was left to Craig Ramage to take the nerve wracking miss-this-and-we're-out penalty. I can't believe how calm he was, and he slotted it home so sweetly.
This took the shoot-out into sudden death where all those players who are too gutless to take responsibility get penalties shoved onto them. I think the first one up was Johnno, who cancelled out their successful penalty. We were a bit concerned, as it was a bit too close for him, but he had no worries. Then Kev superbly saved their seventh from Watford reject Mark Morris, and up stepped Gerard Lavin to try and become a hero. Needless to say he missed it - everyone knew he would, he is that type of player. Their eighth penalty was also brilliantly saved by Kev, and it was left to Keith Millen to prove he was worthy of the Sweden "Player of the Tour" tankard that I gave him. I knew he wouldn't let me down. He is a hero. His penalty was probably the best of the lot of them, because it gave us the win. Everyone went completely wild, and this is where the trouble starts.
Some of our more exuberant fans spilled out onto the pitch, and were just running around in a complete daze. One fan was down on his knees bowing to Kevin Miller, whilst the police were smashing all hell out of another fan - using their truncheons on the back of his head. Then came a horrifying incident and one that will have got a certain Dorset policeman into BIG trouble. Kevin Phillips, who had been sitting on the bench during the match, had come onto the pitch to join in the celebrations. One particlar policeman walked up to Super Kev and whacked him on the back of his neck with his truncheon. Super Kev would not have done anything to warrant that, and was totally unaware of doing anything wrong until the copper hit him. Glenn Roeder witnessed the entire incident, and naturally was furious - he was arguing with the police, and has reported him. He informed everyone at the press conference of the incident, and expressed his intention of taking the matter further. I hope the copper gets sacked for that. It is one thing to hit a fan who may be breaking the law, but to hit and possibly injure our star striker who was entitled to be there - you just cannot do that sort of thing. The Bournemouth coppers seemed to be spoiling for a fight, and were just a little upset when none materialised so they invented their own. It was a good thing that most Watford fans were unaware of Super Kev getting hit, or there would have been an out and out riot.
Talking to the stewards afterwards, who were trying to calm the situation, they were all disgusted at what they had seen the police do. They could tell that the fans were just happy - there had been absolutely no problem all night until those coppers started hitting out. But as the stewards said, they cannot risk reporting them, as they have to live in that area, and work with them at football. It would not be doing them any favours to put themselves on the line for the likes of us. Oh well, it's only a game.
All's well that ends well
Report by Ian Grant
Blimey, we don't do things the easy way, do we? At Bournemouth we were just a few minutes away from going out of the Coca-Cola Cup on away goals. You'll have to excuse the mess at the top of the page - I haven't had to deal with the complications of penalties before and I rather hope I don't have to do it again.
"Nice one," I thought when I saw the draw. "Bournemouth's only along the coast so that'll be an easy trip". Like hell it is. The south coast train service is so inefficient that getting the train back to Brighton proved impossible. So no thanks to British Rail for that one. But many thanks to Chris for giving me a lift back to Southampton and to Tim for putting me up for the night. Cheers, I owe you one.
It would be nice to be able to say that we got through this tie by imposing our passing game on inferior opposition. We didn't. We got through by the skin of our teeth. We've only got ourselves to blame for not taking advantage of the chances we created - had we been more ruthless in front of goal, the tie would have been over in normal time.
The first hour or so was pretty dire. The rain came down, drenching the Watford fans on the open terrace, and the football was not high quality stuff. Bournemouth nearly caught us out in the first minute, Jones scuffing his shot across the face of goal, and that set the tone for the rest. We played aimless football, passing it around with no real purpose, and never really looking threatening. Mooney curled a shot past the post when well placed, Porter wasted a good run into the box with an awful pass, that was about it. Bournemouth were barely better but that's not much consolation when you're getting soaked.
The one bright spark in the Watford side was Jamie Moralee who, despite still not being fully fit, played until virtually the end of extra time. Aside from a sharp turn and low shot at the start of the second half, he never looked like scoring but his movement was exemplary. Constantly available, he held the ball up well despite strong challenges and his forays down the right wing were highly effective. Excellent.
The second half was better but not that much better. The game opened up considerably and Bournemouth looked a little more dangerous on the break. Kevin Miller was never really tested beyond getting his body behind long-range shots and catching crosses, both of which he did competently. We had more pressure, with both Moralee and Mooney doing damage, but never really made it tell. The one golden chance fell to Mooney, put through on the left, but he delayed his shot and clipped it wide as the keeper narrowed the angle.
We pushed forward but failed to find the goal that would have let me get the train back to Brighton. Thirty minutes of extra time wasn't a particularly enticing prospect, especially since it was still raining, and we knew we had to score to avoid an away goals defeat. That desperation increased when Ramage, completely unmarked in the six yard box, somehow managed to knock the ball wide - someone like Mooney would have belted it and broken the net.
We huffed and puffed but lacked the guile to break through the resilient Bournemouth defence and time continued to tick away. With a couple of minutes to go our hopes looked as remote as my chances of getting home. Somehow we got a goal. With Porter substituted, Lavin took the corner and it was dreadful, high up over the keeper's head. Foster challenged, Andrews missed it, Bazeley's header went in. I'm able to tell you all this from the TV replay - my view was totally obscured by Peter Fincham's arse. Delirious celebrations - we were off the hook.
Or so it seemed. Sadly the pitch invasion by Watford fans meant that there was still enough time for an equaliser. There's a moral in that story somewhere. Bournemouth responded to the goal by pouring forward and got the reward - a long-range shot dipped onto the bar, Foster missed his clearance and the ball was scooped into the top corner. Damn and blast. That was the end - level on aggregate and away goals, so time for penalties.
You can understand why I didn't fancy our chances in the shoot-out and it didn't look good when Palmer's penalty was saved. Bournemouth scored their first three and we were on the ropes. Enter Kevin Miller. He saved Bournemouth's fourth kick, diving to his right, and we levelled the scores to take it into sudden death. Miller saved once to give Lavin the chance to win the tie but Andrews pulled off the save of the night, flicking the shot over the bar. Miller saved again and it was left to Keith Millen to seal the victory. Thank God for that.
Not a convincing display to say the least. Ramage looks lost with his mate Hessenthaler to win the ball for him and we need his creativity to feed the front-runners. Without decent service to the strikers, we can't afford to miss the few chances we create. Still, all's well that ends well, eh?