FA BARCLAYS PREMIERSHIP
SATURDAY 28TH OCTOBER, 2006
WATFORD 0 (0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0 (0)
Referee: - Uriah Rennie
Attendance: - 19,660
Watford (4-4-2):- Foster; Doyley, Demerit, Shittu, Stewart; Smith, Francis, Mahon (Capt.), Bouazza; Young, Henderson
Subs not used: - Lee; Powell, Mackay; Bangura, Priskin
Booked: - Demerit, Bouazza, Mahon
Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson; Chimbonda, Dawson, King (Capt.), Ekotto; Ghaly (sub Murphy, 67), Jenas, Huddlestone, Lennon; Berbatov, Keane (sub Defoe, 75)
Subs not used: - Cerny; Gardner; Davids
Booked: - Jenas
The fact that Watford celebrated dragging themselves out of the bottom three, with their sixth Premiership draw, and their third clean sheet of the season indicates that this was a more precious point to the hosts than that gained by the visitors, who kept their fourth consecutive clean sheet to maintain a 6 game unbeaten run. Both sides had two or three good chances, but this was a game that rarely excited, if at all, and where a draw was a justified result. Spurs have once again under-achieved against a promoted side, and ought to regard this result as two points lost.
Spurs made a number of changes from the side that played Milton Keynes, and only Tom Huddlestone and Hossam Ghaly survived as starters today. The presence of both Ghaly and Lennon in the midfield promised an attacking approach by Spurs, but unfortunately, with Ghaly operating on the right, Lennon was not allowed to play on his best side until Ghaly was replaced by Murphy in the second half. Spurs then failed to deliver the ball to Lennon sufficiently, and although Aaron had a couple of good chances in the first half, and several typical bursting runs and crosses, it was not enough to prise open the determined Watford defence.
Watford had clearly the better start, attacking the Rookery End, and Spurs had to defend several early corners. From the last of these corners, Paul Robinson held Danny Shittuís header. Spurs managed a corner after 4 minutes, taken by Jenas, which passed across the 6 yard area, and was just too far for Berbatov to make decent contact. Lennon battled away for the ball in the middle and sent Assou-Ekotto away on a run. Ekotto worked his way into the box, and should have had a pop at goal, but chose to cross, reaching none of his team-mates. Smith had an excellent close-range opportunity for Watford after 7 minutes, meeting Mahonís cross from the right, but skying the ball over the bar. I believe the offside flag was up anyway.
Lennon picked up Huddlestoneís pass, and skipped into the area, but was beaten by the advancing Foster, on loan from Manchester United. Foster was later announced as the Watford man of the match, which says something about the game really. This had been Lennonís second opportunity in the space of a couple of minutes. It was Lennon again, who forced perhaps the best save of the match from Foster after 34 minutes, when Keane and Ghaly set him up, from the right side of the pitch. Foster stretched to tip over Aaronís effort.
Watford enjoyed a little bit of pressure, with Shittu heading wide, before Spurs half-hearted clearance was returned to the danger zone and Francisís shot was held by Paul Robinson. Watford then had the ball in the net, through Ashley Young, but the pass to him by Bouazza was ruled offside. Just after the break Young took advantage when Dawson uncharacteristically failed to make a header 35 yards out. Young crossed the ball, but it passed without danger.
Spurs had perhaps their best chance when Ghaly chipped a ball over the defence for Robbie Keane, who was at a sharp angle, and crossed for Berbatov, whose effort was somehow cleared over the bar by the Watford defence. Keane did have a shot at goal soon after when he was through on the right side of the box, and Foster just got enough of a touch to force the ball out for a corner. Tommy Smith got a good cross past Ekotto, and a shot went just wide of Robinsonís post, before Robbie Keane again forced a good save from Foster, after Berbatov made a Robinson long ball into a pass Ė not for the first time today or this season!
Ghaly was replaced by Murphy, and Aaron Lennon reverted to his natural right side. Lennon had a chance after good work by Jenas, blocking the ball well in the middle before making the pass. Lennonís shot was deflected for a corner. Murphy threaded a good ball to Defoe, but the offside flag brought an end to that attack. There was some more worry for Paul Robinson as crosses from Smith and Bouazza needed him to be alert.
At last Lennon was brought into the game on the right, and he got a cross to the back post, where Berbatov headed wide. Ledley King had the best remaining chance, heading wide from a Jenas free kick, after Jermain Defoe had been fouled.
Watford will take justified encouragement from their recent performances, and look forward to entertaining Middlesbrough next week. As for Spurs, itís back to UEFA Cup business next Thursday against Club Brugge, before Chelsea at home next Sunday. Brugge beat Excelsior Mouscron 5-1 last night to go second in their league, so both these forthcoming fixtures will be formidable.
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