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February 3rd 1969, FA Cup 4th Round Replay
Watford 0 Manchester United 2

by Paul Levene

Watford, at the time challenging for promotion from Division Three, had pulled off a remarkable result holding European Cup winners Manchester United to a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford in the fourth round of the FA Cup in the 1968-69 season.

The replay took place at Vicarage Road on the first Monday evening in February 1969 in front of a club record attendance of 34,099, with a game against Birmingham City in round five the reward for the winners. If Watford were to progress, however, they would have to make do without injured defender Brian Garvey. He was replaced by Tom Walley, moving from midfield to bolster the backline.

Although United enjoyed a promising start to the game, the Hornets were more than capable of competing with their illustrious visitors and both Terry Garbett and Dixie Hale had early chances to test Alex Stepney. Stewart Scullion also carved an opportunity to emulate his goal in the first match, but on this occasion his effort went over the bar.

Just when it seemed that United might be on the receiving end of another shock, Denis Law pounced to put his side ahead with half an hour gone. George Best set up the chance, combining with Brian Kidd, and eventually crossing for Law to rise and head the ball home at the far post.

After Matt Busby's side had take the lead, Watford continued to cause problems for the United defence and Rodney Green did have the ball in the back of the net but was penalised for his challenge on Stepney. Many present felt that it was a perfectly legitimate goal but history dictates that referee Handley was to disallow the effort.

Other chances to equalise came and went, but the best opportunity for the Hornets arrived with ten minutes left and fell to full-back Duncan Welbourne. Welbourne created the initial danger with his ball into the area and both Green and Barry Endean attempted to head goalwards. The United defence, joined by Bobby Charlton in order to relieve the pressure, only cleared the ball as far as Welbourne whose shot beat Stepney and agonisingly rattled against the bar.

Perhaps that last effort summed up Watford's luck on the night, as with 87 minutes on the clock that man Law appeared again to put the result beyond doubt. The canny Scot controlled a weak clearance from Johnny Williams before volleying past Mike Walker in the Watford goal and send United to the midlands in round five.

Watford: Walker, Welbourne, Williams, Hale, Eddy, Walley, Scullion, Garbett, Green, Endean, Owen Sub: Lees
United: Stepney, Fitzpatrick, Dunne, Crerand, James, Stiles, Morgan, Kidd, Charlton, Law, Best Sub: Sadler

- taken from Watford v Luton programme (29/10/96)