HomeMatch Reports1999-2000 - Watford 2 Wigan Athletic 0

Worthington Cup Second Round - Tuesday 14th September 1999


Wigan Athletic
Wigan Athletic
Kick-off: 19:45
Venue: Vicarage Road
Referee: David Crick (Worcester Park, Surrey)
Attendance: 6,628

Report by: Dave Seddon - Wigan Evening Post

WIGAN saw their hopes of making further progress in the Worthington Cup severely dented, but the match was enough to cause Graham Taylor to contemplate retirement.
The former England boss watched his Watford side struggle to break down a determined Latics on the eve of his 55th birthday, and the manner in which he stalked the touchline at Vicarage Road last night suggests he'll be lucky to see his 56th!

So it was little wonder that he was thinking about a life of pipe and slippers in the after-match press conference.

"I'm 55 tomorrow and I always told my wife I would retire at that age." said the man once portrayed as a root vegetable in a tabloid newspaper.

"And I couldn't believe I hadn't retired after watching that display out there."

Did he not like that!

Taylor's moan came after Latics had threatened to shock their Premiership opponents.

They enjoyed the better of the play in the first half of an admittedly poor game, and only the width of the woodwork prevented them turning round at half-time one goal to the good.

But two pieces of high quality finishing in the second half saw the match swing the Hornets' way, although it needed a couple of top-drawer saves from veteran keeper Alec Chamberlain to prevent Latics grabbing a late away goal to carry into next week's second leg.

Both Taylor and his Latics counterpart John Benson refused to accept that the tie was over, but it looks a tall order for Benson's boys to turn it around, however encouraging last night's display was.

It wasn't quite the freeflowing attacking performances that we have witnessed in the opening weeks of the season, but that couldn't be expected against top flight opposition on their own patch could it?

Instead Latics dug in, battled for every ball and rattled Watford at every opportunity.

Benson changed his formation last night to try and counter the threat from the home side, switching to the 5-2-3 formation favoured last season instead of the 4-3-3 he has been using of late.

Skipper Carl Bradshaw returned for his first game of the campaign and slotted in between Arjan De Zeeuw and Stuart Balmer at the heart of the defence.

Scott Green and Darren Sheridan lined up in the wing-back slots with Ian Kilford and Michael O'Neill making up the centre of midfield.

Kevin Sharp also made a return to the squad as an unused substitute.

With only a 6,000 crowd inside the impressive Vicarage Road, there was a distinct lack of atmosphere as the game kicked off, and the early play did nothing to rouse the supporters from their slumbers.

Simon Haworth hit a shot well over the bar in the 10th minute, while Des Lyttle hammered a low drive well wide of the target at the other end.But in the

main, the first 20 minutes or so were played at too frantic a pace, and it just needed someone to put their foot on the ball to calm things down.

Eventually, Latics started knocking it around with some confidence, and created the best chance of the half with 29 minutes on the clock.

O'Neill picked Stuart Barlow out on the right wing with a well struck pass, and the striker skipped off towards the area.

His cross into the midfield found O'Neill who had continued his run into the area, but the Irishman's bullet header from six yards crashed back off the bar.

In first half injury time, Paul Robinson's cross was flicked inches wide of Roy Carroll's goal by Michel Ngonge as Watford finally started to move into gear.

So frustrated was Watford boss Taylor at half-time that he made a double substitution, bringing off Ngonge and Lyttle and replacing them with Clint Easton and Allan Smart.

And it paid off when they took the lead with their first shot on target of the whole match in the 58th minute.

Micah Hyde's corner from the left was headed clear out of the Latics' box but only as far to Peter Kennedy 25 yards out.

He squared the ball to EASTON who slammed a low left foot shot through the crowded penalty area and into the bottom corner of the net.

Latics responded with Sheridan hitting a free kick - awarded after Haworth had been up-ended - into the wall and Barlow headed the rebound over the bar.

But they fell 2-0 behind in the 71st minute, HYDE taking a pass from Easton before drilling a low shot from 20 yards past Carroll's despairing dive.

The goal prompted Benson to replace the tiring barlow with David Lee, and the winger's introduction breathed fresh life into Latics.

Andy Liddell had a shot from outside the box saved at the foot of the post by Chamberlain, and the keeper had to call on all his experience to make two outstanding saves in the closing stages.

With 11 minutes left, Sheridan's cross from the right hand side of the box fell to Ian Kilford and his full blooded first time volley was superbly parried away for a corner.

Then in the 82nd minute, a right wing cross from Lee picked out Liddell in the middle who connected with an acrobatic scissor kick.

The shot looked destined for the back of the net until Chamberlain stuck out a glove at full stretch to tip the ball over the bar.

Kilford was inches away from connecting with Lee's cross with four minutes left , while Haworth fired a shot wide of the near post soon afterwards.

Had one of those gone in, it could have made next week's clash at the JJB Stadium an extremely interesting occasion.

As it is, a giant killing act looks a tall order, but then again, stranger things have happened in football - just ask Graham Taylor.

  • Watford
  • Alec Chamberlain
  • Mark Williams
  • Robert Page
  • Paul Robinson
  • Steve Palmer
  • Des Lyttle 46
  • Micah Hyde
  • Peter Kennedy
  • Nick Wright 83
  • Michael Ngonge 46
  • Tommy Mooney
  • Chris Day
  • Clint Easton 46
  • Alexandre Bonnot
  • Johann Gudmundsson 83
  • Allan Smart 46
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