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March 29th 1969, Football League Division Three
Swindon Town 0 Watford 1

by Paul Levene

In Watford's bid for promotion from Division Three in the 1968-69 season the main rivals on the road to a higher grade of football were Swindon Town. The big promotion clash at the County Ground was due to take place on Saturday March 29 1969 with a 7:30 kickoff and the game was given additional spice, as two weeks earlier the Wiltshire side had created a huge upset at Wembley by beating Arsenal 3-1 to win the League Cup.

The Hornets' task was a formidable one, even more so as Swindon had not lost at home in the League all season, but they did go into the game as the top-of-the-table side albeit on goal average from the Robins. Watford had played a game less than Swindon and were two points ahead of third-placed Luton Town - also with a game in hand over the Hatters - so the importance of a win for Watford could be too highly emphasised.

The game captured the imagination of both the Wiltshire and Hertfordshire public, and as a result the games were locked over an hour before the kickoff with 28,898 in the County Ground and thousands more left outside unable to see the game.

The Hornets began their bid for a ninth away win of the season and could have had the ideal start when Barry Endean was brought down after 15 minutes in the box. Referee Mr Harry New of Portsmouth pointed to the spot, but Watford's normally reliable penalty-taker Keith Eddy had his effort saved by Peter Downsborough in the Swindon goal.

Watford's defence coped well with the threat of the home attack spearheaded by Don Rogers and Peter Noble (once a target of the Hornets), wile the midfield, admirably led by Dixie Hale, snuffed out most of the Swindon threat. Although Keith Eddy missed the early penalty, he was a class act at the back and when Swindon did create a real chance after 72 minutes, goalkeeper Mike Walker pulled off a brilliant save to keep out John Smith's effort.

With just four minutes left the Hornets gained the crucial advantage when Terry Garbett set up an attack with a pass out to Dixie Hale. The former Barrow and Workington midfielder crossed and Barry Endean, with a perfectly timed run, controlled the ball before shooting past the stranded Downsborough in the home goal. It was a thoroughly deserved win for the Hornets and at the end of the season could be considered the significant win on the way to securing the Division Three championship.

Swindon: Downsborough, Thomas, Trollope, Butler, Burrows, Harland, Dawson (Sub: Penman), Smart, Smith, Noble, Rogers

Watford: Walker, Welbourne, Williams, Eddy, Lees, Walley, Scullion, Hale, Garbett, Endean, Lewis Sub: Green
- taken from Watford v Sunderland programme (17/9/96)