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97/98: Reports:

Nationwide League Division 2, 14/10/97
Bristol Rovers 1(0)
Scorers: Penrice (83)
Watford 2(0)
Team: Chamberlain 4, Mooney 4, Kennedy 4, Page 4, Palmer 3, *Millen 4*, Slater 3, Hyde 3, Thomas 3, Johnson 4, Rosenthal 4
Subs: Gibbs, Andrews, Noel-Williams
Scorers: Kennedy (62), Rosenthal (80 pen)
End to end
Report by Ian Lay

It is my conclusion that by the end of this season, not only will I not have any nails left on my fingers, the fingers will be gone as well. Yep, you guessed it, another nailbiter. But in comparison with some games where we have dominated and should never have allowed the opposition to get back into the game, this was a more even contest.

Arriving in Bristol early (about 5.30pm), we (Rupe, Rob and myself) ventured into the Wellington pub close to the ground for a few drinks. It was full of Rovers fans! But this didnít matter as they were very friendly. Started chatting to one bloke who came and sat near us, and we talked in general about each other's chances this season and then spent the next 10 minutes rubbishing Bristol City and their fans.

Pete Fincham turned up with a few of his mates, and then out of nowhere (cue twilight zone tune) Will Holman appeared. I was lucky enough to meet Will for the first time on Sunday when he came down for training with WIFC. Top bloke, and a mean dribbler!!

After finishing our pints and generally feeling a little cramped (the pub wasnít small, but it seemed everyone in the city was trying to get in), we decided to venture off to the ground. And we got wet. Very wet, very wet indeed. So the only thing to do to keep warm was to jump up and down singing silly songs. Pete got his flag out in the ground and he and I were waving it all about and singing:

"We went down, but we are back again, Watford are the greatest team" (repeat x 100000000)

to the tune if "Tubthumping" by Chumehfhdfkh or whatever theyíre called.

Then "Parklife" came on and Pete improvised with some lyrics with myself replacing every reference to "Parklife" with "Hornets".

Well, it got us warm, and everyone thought we were really silly. So whatís new??!!!

As for the game. Well, I donít remember too much about the first half due to the fact that it p****d down and my glasses were pretty damn useless. What I do recall is a Barry Hayles putting the ball over the bar from about 5 yards out. Also Dai Thomas blasting over when put clean through. Overall I thought the 0-0 scoreline at halftime was pretty fair.

In the second half the rain had ceased and I could see again!! Itís a miracle!! Rovers came out looking for blood, and probably goals as well. And for the first 15 minutes of the second half they really played well and we were lucky to be still level. They had two good chances, one saved brilliantly by Chamberlain, the other hitting the outside of the post. Then we had a period of pressure and we started to take control in midfield. Dai Thomas was sent clear through the right hand channel, but put his shot just wide. He really should have taken it a bit further in. And then the goal came. Good work from Slater on the right enabled him to cut inside and send a pass square across the box to where Hyde was waiting. Micah made a bit of a hash of controlling it, allowing a defender to get back and tackle him. However, the ball bounced off another player straight into the path of Kennedy on the edge of the box. He rounded the keeper and slotted the ball into the unguarded net.

In the next 10 minutes we could have been 4-0 up. Dai Thomas (twice) and Micha Hyde (once) were both guilty of missing clear cut chances. But the goal came in the end. Ronny was sent clean through, and as he tried to go round the keeper he was brought down. The keeper should have been sent off but only got a yellow. Ronny then stepped up to put the spot kick away with ease.

Well, we all thought that was that. But a lapse in defense 3 minutes later allowed Penrice acres of space in the left hand channel. He took his time, picked his spot, and demonstrated to a couple of our players how to finish. So "gnaw those hands time" again for the closing minutes, but we held out for a deserved win.

All the defence played well, Keith Millen in particular excelling in the centre. Enough so, that he was man of the match. Johno kept up his impressive form with another good game in the centre of the midfield. It is hard to see how he wonít get player of the season come May.

Slater had an in and out kind of game. It was not the greatest of conditions for running with the ball, but he stuck at it and produced some dangerous situations.

Kennedy continued his knack of popping up the box when least expected. This guy runs his socks off. One minute heís in the opposition's penalty area, the next heís producing a last minute tackle to save our bacon.

Micah Hyde continues to frustrate. He will do something marvellous one minute and something terrible the next. Reminds me of Johnson two seasons back. Iím sure it will come as he has the skill. Just needs to get that consistency that Johno has now.

Up front, Ronny had another impressive game. Where the guy finds that kind of pace at 34 is amazing. Made the penalty and then converted it. With a bit more luck could have had another.

Dai Thomas. Hhhmmm. If he had taken 1 or 2 of the numerous chances (he had 4 clear cut that I remember) he would have been man of the match. A good player. Strong and quick. And when he gets his finishing sorted out he will be a great player. He needs to take his time a bit more and compose himself in front of goal. Then the ball will start hitting the back of the net.

Overall a great game to watch. End to end action with numerous chances. If both sides had taken them then the score would have been about 7-4 or 7-5 in favour of Watford.

Anyway, a good win. 5 points clear. Millwall on Saturday and a chance to put our main rivals a long way behind us. Doesnít it feel great?