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97/98: Friendlies:

Pre-season friendly, 13/7/97
Watford 1(1)
Team: Chamberlain, Melvang, Kennedy, Ward, Gibbs, Mooney, Bazeley, Hyde, *Andrews*, Johnson, Slater
Scorers: Slater
BSC JAC Bardejov 1(0)
Scorers: Hirai
Damn those penalties
Report by Pete Fincham

With the chance to collect the $30,000 as tournament winner gone, Watford lined up for their final game of the four team tournament in front of a near empty stadium to play Slovakian team BSC. Despite the apparent lack of interest in the match from the locals, the team played with the same gutsy determination prevalent the previous day, as the fortunes of the Hornets suffered a similar fate, largely determined by the hands of the same referee.

BSC were not to disappoint those assembled in their desire for the game, as with close man marking being the overwhelming feature of the match, BSC dominated the midfield and the early part of the game. Chamberlain was forced into a series of world class saves throughout the game, and as the game went on the confidence shown in both the stopper and defenders spread to the midfield, encouraging Hyde to run as he had done in the game the previous day. Indeed, it was Hyde who played the major part in the opening goal, as he picked up a pass form Gibbs on the edge of the Hornets box before running a full 50 yards with the ball. Releasing Andrews into space, the young striker took the ball in his stride to shoot first time from the edge of the area. With the keeper covering his angles well, the shot was parried, but only into the path of Stuart Slater who poked home a well deserved goal from only 6 yards on 40 minutes.

Chamberlain was again to excel during the second half, and his reaction save to a close range volley form BSC was as good a save as you’ll see. However, as the Slovakian pressure began to overwhelm the Hornets, the experienced keeper could do nothing about the BSC equaliser 2 minutes form time. Following a period of sustained and frantic pressure, Hirai scored from close range as the appeals of Watford for offside fell on deaf ears.

Finishing 1-1, the game went to penalties, and despite scoring efforts from Talboys, Slater, Johnson and Mooney, young Peter Kennedy had his effort saved by the tall Slovak keeper, and the Hornets were to lose 5-4.

As in the previous game, the result mattered not, but the performance was encouraging. Again Hyde and Melvang were outstanding, but it was the performance of Wayne Andrews that encouraged the most, as he went on to collect the Man of the Match award. Andrews never stopped running or being fouled, as despite missing the "big striker" throughout the game, Andrews was the player who caused the Slovakians most problems.

Mr. Taylor was again encouraged by all aspects of the team's performance, noting that "We came out here having only kicked a ball around for a few days leading up to the trip, and with several new players coming into the side, I have been impressed with the way the team has performed and acted throughout the weekend."

In the final, the Russian side Alania defeated the hosts Kaunus 1-0 in a game watched by 3,000 people.