Jenkins Hat-Trick Crowns Another Watford Fiesta
Daily Telegraph report by Donald Saunders
Ross Jenkins knocked Nottingham Forest out of the League Cup at Vicarage Road last night, helping himself to a hat-trick that put Watford into the quarter-finals for the second time in three seasons.
Jenkins, who cost Watford only a tiny fraction of the 2.5 million Forest have spent on strikers in the last two years, firmly ended the European champions' three-season domination of this once-despised domestic competition.
Twice in consecutive years Forest went home with the trophy. Last spring they made a record third successive appearance at Wembley - and, after going down to Wolves by the only goal, swore they would be back again this time.
Watford put paid to that dream with a victory that eventually was so easily accomplished that they must have wondered why they took so long to realise Forest were there for the taking.
Forest's knock-out equalled their heaviest defeats in 332 matches in all first-team competitions since Brian Clough became manager in January 1975. Their two previous biggest defeats in Clough's seven season reign were in the First Division - at Southampton and Derby last November and both by 4-1.
Watford fans have no doubt that Jenkins was the hero. Forest's supporters, in contrast, will be equally sure that Burns was the cause of their bitter disappointment.
Certainly the Scottish centre-back, who has done so much in recent seasons to lift Forest out of obscurity, was guilty of the crucial mistake that opened the floodgates.
In the 41st minute, Burns fouled Jenkins as they went for a cross that was clearly destined to be snapped up by Sutton.
Clive Thomas immediately pointed to the spot and Blissett eagerly hammered the penalty into the net to give Watford the lead and their confidence a timely boost.
From that moment this tie belonged to Watford. Within three minutes Jenkins had struck the first of his blows, driving the ball home after Jackett's fierce shot had been beaten out by Sutton.
Watford jumped further ahead seven minutes after the interval, with Jenkins completing a fine move between Ward and Blissett by calmly placing the ball into the net from close-range.
By then, Forest were in such disarray that none of us was surprised when the fourth goal arrived in the 61st minute, with Jenkins pouncing on yet another defensive error.
So Wallace's goal, in the 75th minute, was a somewhat pointless gesture by a team who knew they were certainly not going to play at Wembley next March.
Obviously Forest badly missed the skill, experience and calming influence of Shilton, who was ruled out by a heavy cold.
But young Sutton, his deputy, could not be blamed for this defeat. The plain fact is that Forest have been steadily falling apart all season - and Watford took the opportunity to complete their dismantling last night.
Brian Clough, holidaying in Majorca, would have been horrified to see some of the errors committed by his players, in midfield and at the back.
And he surely would have regretted that Birtles, recently sold to Manchester United, and Peter Ward, the replacement, who was ineligible, were not around to help up front.
But all this does not take any credit away from Watford. After a dreary first half-hour, they rose nobly to the big occasion. Blissett, Train and Rostron swept Forest aside in midfield and Poskett and Jenkins tore the European champions apart at the back.
Small wonder, then, that Second Division giant-killers trooped off on a lap on honour at the end - just like Cup-winnners.
Who knows? If they play with the purpose and confidence that carried them decisively to victory last night, they could well repeat that celebration at Wembley next spring.