Nationwide Division One
20th January 2001
City Wanchope(30), Helguson(o.g. 80)
City Nash, Pearce, Wiekens, Dunne, Wright-Phillips, Benarbia, Berkovic, Tiatto, Horlock, Wanchope, Goater – subs Huckerby(89), Jensen(82), Ritchie(unused), Weaver(unused), Killen(unused)
Watford Chamberlain, Galli, Vega, Cox, Doyley, Okon, Nielsen, Hyde, Glass, Smith, Pennant- subs Helguson(16), Noble(86), Noel-Williams(unused), Hand(unused), Baardsen(unused)
WANCHOPE GRABS THE EQUALISER
WHAT THE PRESS SAID
Someone should whisper in the ear of Vicarage Road’s animated ground announcer that there’s only room for one set of ‘Golden Boys’ in Division One this season, and they play in Laser Blue.
One can see why Watford would want to shift away from their timehonoured Hornets nickname, after all they are currently slightly lacking in the sting department, but it would take most of the reserves left in Fort Knox to return the Premiership lustre to Gianluca Vialli’s team. Not that they didn’t make City battle for the spoils in a game that deteriorated in quality as the night wore on. Indeed, the Golden Boys were perhaps a shade unfortunate that they didn’t pick up a point after the Blues had looked assured winners throughout a classy· first half display.
It took a crazy own goal from substitute Heidar Helguson to catapult Kevin, Keegan’s side to a fourth straight league win and three points clear of a dwindling pack at the top of the table.
But the Blues could, and should, have been out of sight in the first half when Shaun Goater twice and Paulo Wanchope might have added to their impressive totals and Watford scored a soft effort with their only shot in 45 minutes.
City’s big problem was that their magical midfield double act. Ali Benarbia and Eyal Berkovic, was swamped both literally and metaphorically in the incessant drizzle. Neither of them ever got into a rhythm and neither; for once, could find the kind of killer pass that has defences running scared. And, while it is almost sacrilege to criticise the dynamic duo, the fact that neither of them is quite as fast going back towards their own penalty area as they are with the ball at their feet heading the other way meant that Watford were able to dominate large chunks of the second period.
lt was then that the real heroes of the night emerged with Stuart Pearce, Richard Dunne and Carlo Nash all vying for medals of honour. It was the kind of bleak, roll up your sleeves and gnash your teeth night that Pearce even as he approaches 1,000 games, still relishes while big Dunne was simply carrying on where he had left off over the last dozen outings.
Nash, meanwhile, continues on his own upward curve. Three times in the second half he whipped saves right out of the top drawer.
Watford scored with their first shot in tho 26th minute. Helguson cut the ball back for Tommy Smith to score from tho edgo of the box. The lead barely lastod four minutes before Tiatto slung in a cross from the left, Goator noddod it down and Wanchope performed his well-practisod Inspoctor Gadget impression and stuck out his telescopic right leg to convort a volley. The second was incredibly scrappy and Keegan’s rnen didn’t look like scoring until the 80th minute when Helguson experionced soccer’s agony and ecstasy , Benarbia’s pass, aimed loosely at Goator fell into the Watford man’s path and he promptly side-footed it into the bottom corner.
FROM MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS BY CHRIS BAILEY AND PAUL HINCE