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Nationwide League Division 2, 7/9/97
Watford 2(1)
Team: Chamberlain 3, Melvang 2, Kennedy 4, Page 4, Palmer 4, Mooney 4, Noel-Williams 4, Hyde 2, *Lee 5*, Johnson 5, Rosenthal 3
Subs: Gibbs (for Melvang) 4, Easton (for Rosenthal) 0, Andrews
Scorers: Hyde (6), Lee (62)
Wycombe Wanderers 1(0)
Scorers: Read (70)
The end of the week
Report by Ian Grant

in that kind of rain where an umbrella's no use

For the second time in as many weeks, I find myself at Vicarage Road the day after a deeply emotive funeral. I won't be sorry to escape the heart-crushing weight of the last month.

they're checking the traps for one of the chaps

There's been a lot of talk about "putting football in perspective" during recent days, most of it well-intentioned but misguided. I doubt if any of us have so many moments of unbridled joy in our lives that we can afford to pick and choose - those occasional flash-gun instants of ecstasy that football can produce amid the monotony are not devalued by context.

overboard, with limited future

So, just as I make no excuses for being mashed into a pulp by the funeral on Saturday, I make no apologies for attempting to immerse myself fully in football a day later. It's far more than the "life goes on" cliché - it's a matter of grasping the present, particularly when that present happens to involve being top of the league. We continue to exist, whether we like it or not.

it's just for now, even if you're scintillating

The groan of disappointment that greeted the news of Chesterfield's win seemed to indicate that, even now, Watford fans are still looking for clouds to accompany their silver lining. Yet we should be treasuring every moment - it can't last forever, we'll only have memories soon. Heaven knows we've waited long enough for this not to let it fade into the distance unheralded.

pretty things, clipped wings

That we came away from yesterday's match with three more points is merely a further indication of our progress. We didn't play especially well as a side and we certainly didn't have the rub of the green (if the old "luck evens itself out over the course of a season" adage is really true then we have every right to expect a Chesterfield defender to send a forty yard thunderbolt past his own keeper next Saturday), yet we picked up a valuable win in a tricky fixture - in previous seasons, we would've lost and sat around bemoaning our bad fortune and the referee's incompetence.

does truth dance? does truth sing?

In the long term, this match won't be memorable - we will play considerably better and, on current evidence, we're more than likely to thrash some poor unfortunates' ass in the not-too-distant future. But, for me, yesterday was all about a return to normality after Saturday's catharsis. That Elton John, greeted by a very moving ovation from all supporters, was there to take part in the process made it all the more important. In that context, the most satisfying moment of the match - Jason Lee's half-volley absolutely crashing into the roof of the net - is enough of a reminder that football is significant, is capable of providing moments of blinding beauty.

Initially we looked capable of producing far more, opening with an attacking determination that seemed likely to swamp Wycombe. Yet, when the inspiration left us after fifteen minutes, we'd only scored once. The goal was indicative of our current Taylor-made mentality, players supporting attacks to pop up in unexpected places at unexpected moments. Richard Johnson floated in an intelligent cross to Jason Lee at the far post - it was played back in by Peter Kennedy for Ronny Rosenthal to use his strength and set up Micah Hyde for a close-range finish. Beyond that, however, all our Kennedy-inspired approach play failed to yield too many opportunities.

We never recovered that level of fluency. Wycombe found their feet and began to assert themselves a little, creating openings but consistently wasting them with bad decision-making. I'd argue that our defenders look good as individuals - they all had impressive games, making strong tackles and totally dominating in the air - but there's much work to be done on their co-ordination as a unit. So Wycombe managed to blow the two best chances of the half - one with a tame drive when a simple pass inside to an unmarked forward would have resulted in a near-certain goal and another with a striker taking a completely unnecessary extra touch when he should've scored with a first-time shot. That Alec Chamberlain only had to make one difficult save (apart from the goal) during in the entire game was not due to our defence being wonderfully robust.

By half-time, however, we'd come very close to wrapping the game up. Wycombe could consider themselves to be extremely lucky as Watford players twice hit the underside of the bar with shots. Micah Hyde was first, receiving the ball after a superb run into the heart of the defence by Peter Kennedy and getting underneath his finish. Then it was Jason Lee who turned in the area to slam an effort against the woodwork with the keeper stationary - word has it that the ball bounced over the line, although we'll have to wait for TV replays to confirm that.

Having failed once more to kill off a game, we faced a very tense and hectic second half. There's absolutely no question that we deserved to win the match but that's not the issue - we came too close to not winning it for comfort.

Wycombe put fairly consistent pressure on the Watford goal during the second period, yet found themselves unable to find a way past some truly belligerent defending from Tommy Mooney, Robert Page and Steve Palmer (with, true to form, Richard Johnson lending a hand). The away side didn't help themselves much, though - an early break was again thrown away thanks to a feeble cross into Alec Chamberlain's arms.

And then, the most controversial moment of the match. A fine interchange of passes gave Ronny Rosenthal the chance to charge at the Wycombe defence before sliding the ball into Gifton Noel-Williams' well-timed run. The young striker wasted his first attempt with a weak shot but got a second opportunity and neatly lobbed over the keeper. Three defenders threw themselves across the goalmouth, one of them instinctively handling the ball to prevent it from going in - unfortunately, the referee failed to spot the foul and we were cheated of a goal.

Justice was done, however. It was a goal from nothing - Rosenthal laying the ball off to Lee, who hit a first-time half-volley from the edge of the box that screamed gloriously into the top corner. Not only a goal we deserved but one that Jason Lee deserved - fit or not, his presence is massive. I cannot recall a single header that he didn't win, nor a single occasion when he was found lacking on the ground. Between them, Noel-Williams and Lee are becoming a real handful.

Just for good measure, we hit the woodwork again a few minutes later as Steve Palmer stooped to head a corner against the bar, with the ball bouncing down into the keeper's arms.

Despite the number of occasions on which we might have, should have and did score, no-one should confuse this with the brilliance of that Brentford game. The majority of possession was with Wycombe and we spent too much of the time showing little clarity in our passing. Just as there are players - Hyde, Kennedy, Melvang - who look sleek and swanky when we're on top of a game, so those same players have a tendency to disappear when things aren't going so well.

One player who won't disappear, of course, is the multi-faceted Richard Johnson. Bless 'im. I hereby claim copyright, in true Spice Gals tradition, of the following - Shoooooooty Johnno, Classy Johnno, Unselfish Johnno, Scary Johnno and (one for the future) Red-carded Johnno. One passage of play during the second half said it all. We were attacking and Johnson, typically, made a run out to the left wing to offer another option. As our move broke down and Wycombe burst forward with Johnson stranded, the Watford midfield, the whole heart of the side, had totally disappeared...

Wycombe scored to ensure the now-compulsory last fifteen minutes of blind panic among the fans in the Vic Road end. It was a lovely goal too, albeit aided by some fairly chaotic defending - a striker producing a stunning bit of ball-juggling to beat the last Hornet before crossing for a colleague to score.

Alec Chamberlain had to make one good save, pushing a far-post header away, but most of the last fifteen minutes was occupied by Watford players wellying the ball as far away from the Rookery end as possible. We still created the odd chance - a Noel-Williams run and shot being the best effort - but much of our attacking play had become laboured and over-elaborate long before the final whistle spared us any more tension.

So there you have it. Not exactly vintage Watford - the four or five goal haul that might've happened would've flattered our frequently jaded display - but enough to signal the welcome end of a long, tiring week.

To absent friends...

Report by Nick Grundy

I can now officially confirm that most of the people in the lower Rous stand are not, in point of fact, statues carved from wood to make the ground look fuller. There were a couple at the back I wasn't sure about, but most of the crowd did move at some point during the game. They didn't, however, make anything approaching a respectable amount of noise for the numbers of them present, and aside from some bloke at the front who was abusing the ref very noisily for most of the second half, didn't talk much either. I should at this point explain what I was doing there rather than in the Vic Road end where my season ticket's for: the problem was, as it always is, Other People.

Whenever I manage to browbeat my friends into coming to games with me, something goes wrong. I brought a Wimbledon and a Norwich fan on a four hour round trip from university to see us attempt to play Oxford in the FA cup last season, and it was cancelled, I brought a (nominal) Spurs fan to see Torquay in the Auto Gearboxchange Tedium Trophy Flowerpot, again last season, and he turned up so late (he was driving; I can't) that neither of us could get in, and I brought a Man U supporter to Gillingham at home last year ('nuff said). This time it was a West Ham fan and a non-football supporter, and they forced me to stay in the pub with them until shortly before three, when we discovered that I could get in to the Vic Road end but they couldn't. Grudgingly, I went with them into the Lower Rous. We were just walking down the steps in front of the turnstiles when an enormous roar greeted Micah Hyde's opener. This didn't improve my mood.

Anyway, formation-wise we looked like we were playing 5-3-2 again, with Mooney, Palmer and Page in the middle of defence, Kennedy and Melvang on the flanks, Johnno and Hyde in midfield, GNW and Lee up front and RR in the floating midfield role vacated by Slater, who I presume was injured?

It worked, yet again, pretty damn nicely. Wycombe were under pressure for the whole of the first half almost without interruption; I can only think of one real shot they had, and that was a volley which sailed a long way over. The one criticism I would make of the formation, though, is that the forward players (Lee, GNW and RR) seemed to be switching positions more often than was sensible; often Lee would get stranded out on one of the flanks as a cross came over for Ronny to try to get a head on - I'd rather Jase had been in the middle for the crosses. That's a minor criticism, though; overall we were excellent.

Defensively we were resilient, assured and (gasp!) even creative, with the only aberation coming when, two goals to the good, Alec Chamberlain and the otherwise excellent Steve Palmer both failed to clear a ball across the six-yard box which Paul Read banged in for Wycombe. Without wishing to spoil it for you, Wycombe didn't equalise after that and didn't really look like doing so, although Read hit the bar late on with a looping header I thought Chamberlain had covered anyway. Those were Wycombe's only decent chances, though, and we had a hatful.

Jason Lee was first to profit from our attacking play: the ball reached him about ten yards out and he fired in a shot which hit the angle of post and bar before somehow getting cleared. Such were the intensity and sheer frequency of our attacks that I'm finding it very difficult to remember who set what up for whom, and this perhaps illustrates a rather central theme to this season. Last year, the day after most games I attended I could probably tell you who set up any chances we had, never mind who actually had them, but this season it just isn't possible.

We're keeping the ball in attacking positions, moving it from player to player and from side to side, and doing so with a confidence and an ease of execution which is at times irresistible. Occasionally it leaves us vulnerable at the back, but against Wycombe this wasn't the case, because the attacking players that Graham Taylor has brought in all get through their fair share of defensive duties as well. Micah Hyde is a case in point: his intelligent passing and well-timed running created numerous chances for others and for himself, but what impressed me most about him was his willingness to get down as well as up the pitch. He has an unorthodox tackling style which is nonetheless crisp and tends to leave him in possession rather than merely breaking up an opponent's attack, and he uses it a lot more than members of a Watford midfield have in the past (he says darkly).

The midfield was still run by Johnno, of course, who was customarily majestic, but Hyde's running caught the eye more when he arrived in the area late, controlled a cross, and fired against the as-yet undamaged corner of the Wycombe goalpost and bar. For the remainder of the half we attacked in numbers, with Kennedy putting in a curling shot from the edge of the area having followed his own corner in which Martin Taylor, in the Wycombe goal, did well to keep out. Wycombe even had an attempt on goal, a volley which was blazed a good way over the bar.

The second half saw Wycombe mount a more serious attempt to get into our half for longer than a minute and a half, possibly bolstered by a desire to get away from their fans' rather comic attempt to replace Luton in all our affections. I really wished we could have met their "What do you think of Watford? Sh*t" chants with something along the lines of "What do you think of Wycombe? Well, they're quite sweet really and we got four points from six from them last season, so we don't mind them at all. Why?", but it probably wouldn't have fitted the tune. Never mind. To give them their due, they did start to exploit the space behind our wing-backs more second half, with Kennedy and Melvang getting caught forward a bit too often for GT's liking, as he brought Nigel Gibbs on for Melvang about ten minutes after the break. Kennedy, too, hung back a lot more bar one lightning-quick surge through the middle of the Wycombe defence which took him onto a through ball from Gifton which only a last-ditch tackle prevented him from striking.

We hit the woodwork twice in the second half, too, so although Wycombe did come back into the game to an extent, we always looked the more dangerous side. Jason Lee also scored a beauty of a goal - a chest down from Ronny Rosenthal arrived at an awkward height, but Jase struck a sweet half-volley into the top right hand corner of the goal, and to judge from his celebrations was pretty pleased about it. The woodwork was threatened first by Gifton Noel-Williams, who was put clean through after a good run and inch-perfect ball from RR. His first shot cannoned back to him off the legs of Taylor, and his second attempt was cleared via what looked suspiciously like the Wycombe no.11's hand and the crossbar. Quick comment, though - I thought the ref was very good - he dealt with players firmly and equally, listened to his linesmen, and didn't produce the almost obligatory rash of cards we've become accustomed to. I'll be writing to Lancaster gate shortly... After that, Steve Palmer headed a deep cross from the right against the underside of the bar just to highlight how many goals we could have scored.

I personally don't think it matters that we're missing a few, though, because at the moment we look good enough to be able to afford only to score two from six, and until that changes I'm perfectly happy to keep picking up the points. This performance was enjoyable, creative and assured, and even the West Ham fan was forced to admit that on that showing we were too good for the division. Premature? Perhaps, but if you can compare this game to the corresponding one last season, then do so and see what conclusions you come up with.

Woodwork class
Report by Matt Bunner

The circumstance of Saturday's event gave me the opportunity to visit the Vic for the first time this season. I have read plenty of reports that describe Watford's 'new' style of play, so I could not resist the temptation to drive up from Godalming, Surrey to see the Golden Boys. The traffic was good on the M25 and parking in Watford wasn't a problem.

I knew it was like old times, as IG described in his "Tea with Milk" report, when I saw that the bookies were open in the Rous stand (sorry boys, that side of the ground is where I've always sat!) and that an electronic scoreboard had been erected! I really have missed the scoreboard: it's a shame we didn't see the 3 dancing, square-shaped cartoon characters (did they have a name?) that were always there when we scored. After buying my lunch, looked at my ticket to see where I was: Block bloody K! That's at the other end of the ground! I suppose it's the sign of the times around the Vic this year: last season, if I turned up at 2:45, I was almost guaranteed a half-way line seat. In the end the seat gave me an ideal position from which to see our first goal (offside or not?) and the one where the ball hit the bar and bounced down: more on that later.

A few minutes later there was an enormous applause; in fact a standing ovation for our Chairman, Elton John. It was terrific to see him here and wonderful that the Wycombe supporters also joined in the appreciation. Thanks Elton.

For the first ten minutes, it was wave after wave of Watford attacks (if my account of the match is slightly inaccurate, then I do apologise as I'm doing it from memory and also because there was so much action!), continually bombarding the Wycombe goal. This kind of play is something I haven't seen in years. Even after two minutes, I was getting excited! The attacks were coming from both flanks: Melvang and particularly Kennedy producing decent crosses for our boys up front and if that didn't work, then Rosenthal seemed to have the freedom to roam around the pitch, linking particularly well with Kennedy and Mooney on the left. The goal duly came. There was slight scramble just inside the Wycombe area and Rosenthal's shot deflected off two of Wycombe's defenders and fell neatly into Hyde's path and he had the simple task to slot home from within the 6 yard area. There were mumbling of offside and I too was expecting the Ref's assistant to raise his flag, but credit to the official, he rightly kept his flag down and we were one up. It then appeared to be a case of how many and when, but it didn't materialise. Wycombe were fairly well organised, but they seemed to be overrun by the number of Watford players joining in the attacks.

This style of play inevitably lead to Wycombe counter attacks and they had three reasonable chances to score. The first caught Palmer and Page marking thin air as Paul Read shaped up to bang the ball home, but unbelievably he scuffed his shot. A harder chance came later as he failed to lob Chamberlain, the ball falling harmlessly wide. The final chance, again found Read, TOTALLY unmarked on the penalty spot, but his first touch was so dreadful that Watford easily cleared their lines. During this time, Hyde hit the cross bar when he really should have scored.

After the half-hour mark, Watford had a mini-purple patch: Kennedy hit a cross shot that skimmed across the goal; Lee headed straight into Taylor's arms; Rosenthal shot wildly when through on the left hand side and Lee hit the bar again, but this time the ball bounced down. I expected the goal to be given, but the Ref's assistant was 10 yards behind the play and said no. I had the ideal view for this incident and my immediate impression was that the ball had bounced behind the line. Some you get, some you don't. The half ended with a Wycombe shot that looped comfortably over the bar. There was no disputing that we deserved to be ahead at half-time, but it was only 1-0 instead of 3-0.

The second half kicked-off with Johnno shaping to score from with the centre circle, but he mis-controlled it and had to send it wide to Kennedy. The ball was played into GNW (? - it's so far away!!!) and I was expecting 2-0 after 19 secs of the second half. Unfortunately we couldn't put it away. I think, and please correct me if I'm wrong, this was the incident where GNW shot straight at the keeper from 6 yards when it was easier to score and amazingly got a second chance from the rebound but it hit something (maybe their left-back on the arm?) and deflected onto the bar and to safety. Watford continued to play extremely well in patches, but having said that Wycombe didn't look at all dangerous: GT said that this Wycombe team could 'score for fun' in the match build-up...hmmm.

A spate of dangerous, old-style Watford corners lead to Palmer hitting the bar, AGAIN, with a header. It seemed that we would never get the cushion that we deserved. Then on 62 mins the ball was played forward to Lee, who, in showing his awareness, backed off from the defensive line (or maybe more accurately wasn't ever going to get the ball and was just chasing up!) and decided to shoot first time. I, for one, was thinking, "No, don't shoot! Don't waste it! Control and pass! That will never go in!". By the time I had finished thinking, the ball screamed in off the bar (AGAIN) and there was a momentary silence from this end of the ground: it's gone in, it's gone in!!!!!

Melvang went off to be replaced by Gibbs and this coincided with Wycombe's best spell of the match. They exerted some pressure, but I thought we defended comfortably without being convincing: Palmer did well but at times during the match he was caught out of position a few times and this can often lead to others in the defensive ranks being pulled away. From a deep cross from the right, a Wycombe man sent a looping header that blobbed (I can't say 'crashed' because it was so slow!) onto the bar with Chamberlain groping. After a 70 mins a ball in the area saw Page and a Wycombe man tussle for possession. Page hit the ball onto the Wycombe player and I think Page expected it to go over the by-line, but the Wycombe man didn't give up and managed to drag the ball back to Read, who slid between Page and Chamberlain to score. 2-1 and somehow they were back in it. From the kick-off, the ball was played to Rosenthal who put GNW through to surely's dragged it wide....Bloody hell....GNW does brilliantly to get into goalscoring positions but today he had Devon White's boots on.

Wycombe huffed and puffed for the remainder of the game but they didn't have any worthwhile chances: it was left to Watford to counter attack with Gibbs trying to emulate Lee but produced the expected result and Hyde shooting inches wide a couple of minutes from time. The Ref had an excellent game (there were hardly any fouls in the first half!) and only played 50 secs of injury time to seal our win. Elton looked particularly pleased at full-time: I hope that is a boost for him.

Although 2-1 may look a close score line, it in fact should have been 4-1. I think it says a lot for Watford at the moment if can we play well in patches and still create so many chances: I fully expect a team to visit the Vic this year and be absolutely stuffed 5, 6 or 7-0. Sunday was a good team effort. My man-of-the-match would have gone to GNW if he could shoot, but instead it was a toss up between Hyde and Kennedy. It is interesting that Hyde only received 2/5 from BSaD: maybe it's the standard he has set himself. I like the look of Hyde: dangerous, composed, a worker and always in support. Lee did well and seemed blend with GNW, but I know and have seen him play a lot better. Rosenthal had one of his quieter days, but never failed to impress me with his enthusiasm and his ability to provide options for front players. Johnson was largely anonymous, meaning that he mopped up at both ends of the pitch and not that he played poorly. My vote goes to Kennedy because of his work-rate in getting back and forward and his ability to whip in a dangerous cross. It's frightening to think that Bazeley and Slater are in the squad as well! The defense was good, but was caught out of position on occasions and Chamberlain was spectating at times.

This Watford side has the aura of the old Taylor sides: if you score, we'll score more! It looks like the good old days could be back: it hasn't taken me so long to get out of Watford since the middle 80's!

Awesome moments
Report by Paul Goldsmith

There are lies, damn lies, and statistics - Watford 2 Wycombe 1 is one such unjust statistic, the only truth in this scoreline is that Watford won - and how.

Apart from the two goals, the underside of Wycombe's bar was rattled no fewer than four times, and the ball cleared off the line on more than one occasion. Wycombe's goal was of no more value than consolation, the pressure they applied at the end fuelled by their disbelief at still being in the game.

Watford could rue the fact that their finishing was far from ruthless, but they could also point to the fact that over the past few years creating even half the number of clear cut chances they had would have been cause for celebration.

But let us start at the beginning. The game was preceded by a quite awesome moment when Elton John walked up the stairs to the directors box and the entire stadium rose to meet him. I emphasise entire, because perhaps one of the most moving sights was seeing every single Wycombe fan on their feet joining in the adulation of our chairman. The ovation continued for over three minutes, and surely would have continued for more had the teams not come out at that time. The atmosphere was electric, and yet the one minute silence was so impeccably observed that the only sound one could hear was a distant steward attempting to close the turnstile in the North Stand as it was completely full.

Watford started with an unchanged team, with Rosenthal behind the strikers Lee and Noel-Williams. They immediately began a forty-five minute camp out in Wycombe's half. Kennedy and Melvang looking especially threatening down their respective wings, and it was Wycombe's inability to clear Kennedy's sixth minute cross that led to Micah Hyde slotting the ball home for a one goal lead. Elton led the home crowd in its unabated eruption of joy.

One had the feeling for the next 40 minutes that it wasn't a case of if Watford would add to their lead, but when. Both Hyde and Lee hit the bar, while the impressive Taylor in Wycombe's goal was forced to pull off some notable saves, particularly from Kennedy rasping shot as he cut in from the right. Wycombe, the 2nd division's top scorers, and handily placed in third at the start of play, only threatened weakly. But the home defensive trio, consisting of the dominant, and surely Premiership bound Page, along with converted midfielders Palmer and Mooney dealt with all danger efficiently, with Chamberlain looking sufficiently comfortable behind them in goal.

Meanwhile, Richard Johnson had another one of those games when he goes unnoticed, but not through paucity of performance, rather quality. He cleaned up many a developing attack, passed accurately, and, although he never got a chance to again showcase his near-legendary shooting power, the Watford fans seem to finally be coming around to Johnson's value to their team.

The young Aussie's main value is as a defensive bulwark, allowing the more attacking pair of midfielders Rosenthal and Hyde to prompt and cajole the team towards Wycombe's goal without worrying too much about defensive responsibilities. Both very different in style, Hyde likes to receive the ball and immediately look for a pass, but is prepared to run with the ball if needed. He is also a fine exponent of the late run into the penalty area, a characteristic reminiscent of David Platt in his prime, and one which looks likely to bring the former Cambridge player quite a few more goals.

Rosenthal is more prepared to take on defences with the ball at his feet. He receives the ball often on the half-way line, and tends to set off, head down, towards the opposition's goal. This can cause problems, as he often looks up too late to spot where his team-mates are running, as often seemed to happen with Kennedy, but it can also cause great danger and panic amongst opposition defenders, as it did at the start of the second half, when Noel-Williams was put through on his own in the Wycombe penalty area by an incisive ball from the Israeli. The seventeen year-old tried to compose himself, but his shot was saved by Taylor, and his rebound effort cannoned off the underside of the bar. Noel-Williams will be especially disappointed with his finishing in this game, but he is becoming a real nuisance to every defence he meets. I should think it will arrive at the stage soon when opposition defenders fight to decide who doesn't have to mark him.

That brings us to Jason Lee. The former Nottingham Forest striker doesn't seem to be fully match fit. But, like Rosenthal, is playing at a level where his experience and added skill level sets him apart. His flicks are accurate, his passes good, and he looks dangerous around the goal. Lee suffers from the same affliction Graham Taylor has had to contend with, the repeated and now unjustified hurling in his direction of populist tabloid inspired insults. He was a regular in a Premiership team, and it is to Watford's advantage that he only lost his confidence and not his ability. A small amount of Watford fans make donkey noises at him when he is near, but there is only one way to answer that , and that is on the field. Sure enough, that is what he did, a beautifully executed one-two with Rosenthal on the edge of the area, completed with an emphatic left foot shot which rasped into the net. Lee stood in front of the Vicarage Road end, willing the Watford fans to give him the applause he deserved, helped by Gifton Noel-Williams's "he's the man" promptings. It was a goal that would not have been out of place in the Premiership.

Carried on a wave of positive emotion, Watford continued to pour pressure towards the Wycombe goal. They looked to have gone three-nil up when Steve Palmer headed against the bar from a Peter Kennedy corner. But Wycombe, who should by now have been 6 goals down, were beginning to get their act together, and looked more threatening as the game entered its final quarter. Graham Taylor took Lars Melvang off and replaced him with the more defensively minded Nigel Gibbs, but that didn't stop Wycombe's Read scored a consolation goal, bundling home a cross in the 69th minute. This was followed by another probing run from Ronny Rosenthal, who played the ball through to Noel-Williams, who did most things right, but perhaps took himself out too wide, and placed a shot just wide of the far post.

Clint Easton was sent on for Rosenthal to shore up a tiring Watford midfield, but it seemed that it was quite a relief when the referee blew the final whistle.

It should have not been such a relief, Watford need to take their chances. But, as long as they keep on winning, it may not matter in the long run. For the people who have been watching Watford regularly over the past five years, and were forced to draw sustenance from watching teams containing the likes of Steve Butler, Roger Willis, and Jamie Moralee, this Watford team, when one adds the sidelined Stuart Slater, the soon to arrive Trinidadian winger Jerren Nixon, and the exciting young striker Wayne Andrews, really is something to write home about.

Elton John left his seat at the end of the game waving to his club's happy fans, surely hoping, like 12,000 others, that Watford will also be still standing at the top of the league come May.

This is Paul Goldsmith, for nobody in particular, in Watford.