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96/97: Juniors:

FA Youth Cup 4th Round Replay, 6/3/97
Watford 3(1)
Manchester United 2(0)

Team: Rogers, Boyce, Cave, C.Johnson, Pluck, Panayi, Smith, Grieves, Cornock (sub: Reid), A.Johnson, Perpetuini
Heroes all!
Report by Andy Barnard

Yes!!! This is why it's called the beautiful game. That's why I stopped off at the office on the way back just to write this to you lucky people. We kicked off attacking Rookery, with a severely depleted team as Ward, Robbo and Gifton are needed by the first team. Still, the scum were probably too tired from staying up watching their team take apart Porto last night. They apparently expected to do the same to us. But no chance. After about 10 minutes a good through-ball found Tommy Smith (bustling attack/midfield) who ran in on the left side of penalty area; a Watford striker was unmarked on the penalty spot but Tommy went it alone against the defender and beat the keeper on the near post. One nil. Good control of rest of half, Colin Pluck superbly self-assured, mopping up everything at the back.

After half-time scum came out looking more lively, but failed to do much so they resorted to the usual dirty northern scum tactics: our lad David Rogers was so badly hurt in an off-the-ball encounter that play was held up for about five minutes. Our star number nine Grant Cornock also eventually had to be subbed after having his calves raked. Scum equalised after about an hour after the ball ran free on the left of the area, and they went ahead some ten minutes later with a spectacular header from their sub (Jamie Wood, their only player worth naming, cos you'll never see or hear of any of the others again tee hee hee). We then had to sit through about ten minutes of time-wasting from them, though with their defence as flat as a flat thing we always had a chance of scoring. But then you never can tell what will happen against the scum can you.

At last, with some ten minutes to go, Vince Cave (small nippy defender who goes on some extraordinary mazy runs) broke through on the left wing and was cynically pulled down by their keeper who had been an especially annoying prat - think of Gazza, Schmeichel and Maradona rolled into one, take away the skill and that was him. Of course he wasn't sent off, cos scum keepers never are, but Andy Johnson scored easily from the spot. It was pretty much all us after that and with about two minutes left there was an almighty goalmouth scramble and Chris Johnson on the right poked the ball in from the corner of the six yard box beating annoying keeper and scum defender on the near post.

Bodes well for the future
Report by Adrian Spender

This was the first ever youth team game I have attended, and I came away from it feeling so encouraged about the future. Basically the young Horns never looked in awe of the so called Ferguson Babes, who although showing the odd piece of individual skill did nothing to suggest that they belonged to the club whose stock price can rise 10million on the result of one match. In particular their defence seemed very lax. A couple of times Watford players found themselves in acres of space in the box after a ball over the top.

We scored first through a neat piece of play and a good finish by Tommy Smith, a wide player with pace and skill who was on fire all night. However, United equalised early in the second half and then went ahead with a very good headed goal. At this point I was resigned to the fact that their greater skill would now show through and they would probably go further ahead. However Watford continued to knock the ball round very well and when Vince Cave (I think) pounced on a loose ball in the penalty area he was brought down by the (dodgy) United keeper. Andy Johnson converted the penalty to level the score.

My mind now turned to the possibility of extra time and penalties which I didn't fancy what with having to get back to Essex. However, in the last five minutes we forced a corner or free kick (can't remember) which was partially cleared but fell to Chris Johnson who powered it into the net. Cue mental celebrations, only bettered by the sound of the final whistle a couple of minutes afterwards. The players went absolutely mental and Gifton ran onto the pitch to celebrate with them.

With Scum in the next round, and especially after such a scalp, there may well be silverware for the club this season. But more important than that is the way the team played. All of these players have been nutured by KJ from the age of 14 or even younger. He understands them and vice versa and this can only bode well for the future, especially as four of tonight's players have already signed a professional contract with the club. Particularly impressive was the captain, Colin Pluck at centre half, who won every header he went for.

The attendance was about 3,900, I think. For anybody who didn't go, the club videoed the game and it will be available for 13 pounds, with commentary by Tommy Mooney! Perhaps a tad expensive but I can safely say that it was by far the best game of football involving a Watford side I have seen this season.