February was simply the month from hell. Well, okay, it wasn't that bad, but in comparison to the rest of the season this was the low point (with the possible exception of March).
It started badly, and didn't improve much. First off was Gillingham at home in front of the cameras. Live on TV... well, you can guess the result. We lost and continued our fairly dismal record with regard to games shown on the box. Gillingham was never going to be easy (we had done well to get a point at their place). They scored in the 21st minute and we really didn't have the intelligence to get back in the game. Though it could be argued that we deserved a goal or two, Gillingham should have sealed victory long before getting their second in the ninetieth minute. Chamberlain certainly produced heroics this day to keep the scoreline respectable. But respectable is often not good enough and on this occasion it certainly wasn't.
The 14th saw the return of Luton to Vicarage Road and with it the possibility of beating them twice in one season. Playing a lot better than we had been in previous weeks, it looked like the impossible dream was going to come true after Robinson had given us the lead in the 52nd minute. But, due to injuries and a bit of shuffling of personnel, we looked vulnerable at the back and Luton managed to get an equaliser in the 82nd minute. The goal was fortunate. A cross/shot which was going to be bothering no one was intercepted by Luton player Johnson with an outstretched boot and gave Chamberlain no chance.
Though it was a tad lucky, it was no more than Luton deserved as we failed yet again to finish a game off which was ours for the taking.
Rosenthal returned again from injury at York, but didn't looked match fit. He somehow managed to get the 'man of the match' award. Everyone was average or worse and it made for frustrating viewing.
We "gave" away a penalty in the 26th minute when Gabbiadini went flying in the box when no one touched him. I looked at the TV replays later in the week on a number of occasions and there was definitely no contact. But then what do expect from the cheating scumbag?
Though the penalty wasn't one, York deserved to be ahead. It was too much for Rupe, however, who was already very pissed by the time he had got into the ground. He just fell over laying face down on the terrace. A couple of stewards came over thinking that he was in some kind of trouble until Pete Fincham told them that he was just "disappointed" at Watford conceding a goal. Pete then decided that he should try to bring Rupe to his senses, so he rolled him onto his back and proceeded to drop chips covered in curry sauce over his face. Rupe was obviously hungry as he started eating them.
Half time came and went and we just didn't look like scoring. As we went into injury time many people were already leaving or had left and I must admit I was thinking of trundling off myself. But, hey, I remember Bolton a few years back and being 3-0 down with twenty minutes to go and still winning so I'm not a quitter.
Mine and everyone else's faith was rewarded in the sixth minute of time added on. Palmer (who had come on for the ineffective Slater at half time) found himself with a bit of space outside the box. He strode forward and sent a low shot into the bottom corner. I couldn't believe it. No one could believe it. We had played like utter cack and still managed to get a point. Sometimes you just know when your season is blessed.
Millwall away was next. A chauffer-driven ride with Rupe and his Dad to the game, a nice ground, a beer before the game and a better performance. But still no win. And still no likelihood of Rosenthal returning to form. He looked like a man who wasn't match fit and still carrying an injury. A game that could have gone either way and one we probably just shaved.
And so we ended the month with Bristol Rovers at home. This game seems really out of place. Sandwiched between the disappointing months of February and March, you kept on feeling that GT had kept this little gem in the back pocket from earlier in the season. A bit like playing your joker when you need that extra something.
This wasn't our most impressive performance by all means. But it was certainly one of the best games in terms of entertainment. With Rosenthal and Noel-Williams running riot and the others playing intelligently and with more commitment than of late, we went in at half time 2-0 up. But all that was to turn on its head in the second half. The third goal we didn't get (but should have) was going to come back to haunt us.
Bristol Rovers came out looking much more lively and had obviously had a rocket up them from their manager Ian Holloway. It was as if we were watching a completely different game. Rovers were on top and it came as no surprise that they pulled a goal back, and then drew level with eight minutes to go. What had started as a nice moral-boosting game for the Horns had turned into a nightmare. But cometh the hour, cometh Tommy Mooney charging forward to the rescue. How he scored I will never fully understand but again Ig provides the words to go with the moment:
"Receiving the ball just inside the area, Mooney just ploughed his way through the Rovers defence, digging his way out of tackles, fending off challenges, ignoring simpler lay-offs. Somehow, like the winner of an egg-and-spoon race through the Amazon jungle, he emerged from all this with the ball still at his feet. The angle was ridiculously tight, so he took the only option open to him - he just twatted it. We followed its path, expecting to see it whizz across the six yard box and out for a throw...but it hit the net and the Vicarage Road ended exploded. Mooney stood there, hand cupped around his ear, until he was swamped by players and fans. One of those moments that you never forget..."
So there you go, a moment of unexplainable unexplainedness in a game which was totally out of character with the month which had gone and the month to come.
Somebody pinch me.
Best moments: The equaliser at York (in fact, the whole day was a good laugh) and the Rovers game stick best in the memory. But they didn't have much competition in a poor month.
Worst moments: Where do I start? Gillingham takes the honours, I think. A truly forgettable game from a Watford point of view. Damn those cameras.
Funniest moment: Rupe lying on his back covered in chips and curry sauce.