Main Menu
What's New
Championship review:
By Ian Lay
Entering the final furlong and there were a few worried Hornet fans out there. Okay, we knew that Grimsby were very unlikely to catch us but it looked as if the title was slipping away. Ironically enough, all that changed in a very topsy-turvy Wigan game. The first half was a nightmare. The conditions were tricky; it was very wet. Paul Robinson got booked early on and GT obviously thought he might get sent off, so he pulled the young defender off just to be safe. This didn't help initially as we were 3-0 down by half time and looking decidedly second best. But what happened in the second half turned our season around again. We didn't win, but it was the springboard for what was to be an exciting finish to the season.

Goals from Hyde and Foley brought us back into the game and, if it wasn't for a goal from Gifton near the end being disallowed, we would have come away with a point. It would have been undeserved because we should have been about 5-0 down at half time but you take what you can get. Except this time we didn't get anything.

But from here on, things started to get better. A stuttering win against Wrexham, thanks to a Jason Lee goal, started the ball rolling. And it was to be Lee's influence in the final games that was to prove decisive in winning the title.

Next came the biggie. Bristol City away. A defeat here and we could kiss the championship goodbye. A win or a draw and we were still in the hunt.

A bit of a makeshift line up resulted in us looking out of sorts for the first half. Bristol were on top and it was only excellent defending that kept them at bay. The second half was a completely different kettle of fish (where does that saying come from??!! I mean who would want to put a halibut in a kettle?).

GT tinkered with the formation and we started to come into the game. Kennedy created the first effort of the half after good work from Palmer down the left flank. Bristol City were still dangerous, clipping the top of the crossbar with Chamberlain stranded, but you felt that we had every chance of winning this game. And then the goal came. As always Ig provides the words to go with the moment:

"Just as the game needed a goal to finish this crescendo, it got one. In keeping with so much else, it was a lovely piece of direct, attacking football too. Bazeley fed Hazan with a splendidly simple pass, Hazan crossed for Kennedy, Kennedy turned to clip in a shot, it squirmed from the keeper's grasp and Lee followed in to score from about three inches. At that moment, all doubts, whether about this season or next, were erased. For perhaps the first time since the summer, it felt as if Watford were invincible. We went bonkers, we sang about being champions, we forgot about tomorrow and celebrated today."

Unfortunately the joy didn't last long, as City equalised four minutes later. But it didn't distract from the fact that we had witnessed an excellent game of football between the two best sides in the division. We were still in with a shout for the title and both sets of fans knew it was going to go to the wire.

Grimsby at home was one to forget instantly. We had the better chances and should have won. But in the end the game petered out to a very uninspiring 0-0 draw. The only thing that came out of it was that we basically needed to win our last two games if we stood a chance of sneeking past Bristol City at the top of the table.

Bournemouth at home will remain in the memory of many of those who were there for one very important reason - seeing Steve Palmer in goal. Okay, it was only for a few seconds but it was still very funny. Steve was trying to become the first player ever to wear every shirt from 1 to 14 in the same season. He had done all of them bar 1 and 9. So from the kick off Richard Johnson kicked the ball into touch and Chamberlain (who had started in the defence!!) quickly did a shirt swap with Palmer and normal service was restored.

This was also a cracking match. Though it didn't start that way. Bournemouth took the lead after fourteen minutes from a free kick, Stein leaving Chamberlain stranded after our defensive wall turned out to be not very defensive at all.

For the rest of the first half, it was all Watford and how we didn't equalise I don't know. How some people could boo at half time I don't know either. There are some really stupid people out there. Despite being 1-0 down, myself and many others around me had really enjoyed the first half and we knew that we would win the game.

And so it was to be, but not without a few scares. We came out after half time and did what you have to do when you are 1-0 down. We scored within the first two minutes. The words courtesy, as always, of your commander and chief, Ig:

"Johnson won the ball, took it on, drew a defender or two and found Bazeley in space. Dazzlin' Darren's crossing didn't let him down this time - he curled the ball invitingly into the box for Jason Lee to dump a header into the back of the net. Lovely goal."

We went barmy, but more was to come. In the 69th minute we took the lead.

"Eventually, it all paid off as Gifton made amends. Lee headed a cross powerfully down and Slater nipped in to poke the ball past the goalkeeper. It rolled oh-so-slowly onto the post and bounced out - Gifton reacted quickest to put the chance away. As goal celebrations go, it wasn't really Bazeley against Luton - but the party really started to go with a swing after that, even though the team decided to give us ten minutes of clouted clearances and daft defending to finish things off."

And so it came to pass......the championship was to go to the last game of the season. The equation was simple. We had to win and Bristol City had to draw or lose at Preston, though a draw would possibly be enough if City lost to Preston. Or if both teams won we needed to beat Fulham by about six goals.

So, not so simple an equation after all.

Best moments: The Bristol City and clinching an automatic promotion spot.

Worst moments: The first half at Wigan. Possibly the lowest point of the entire season.

Funniest moment: Seeing Steve Palmer warm up in goal before the Bournemouth game.