Football: Curcic spot on for Venables

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Crystal Palace 2

Tuttle 33, Curcic pen 75

Watford 2

Wright 23, Kennedy 26

Half-time:1-2 Attendance: 19,521

AS MANAGERS of England, Terry Venables and Graham Taylor had vastly different success rates. While the former, now in charge at Crystal Palace, enchanted fans most of the way to the semi-final of Euro 96, the latter, now manager of Watford, earned the nickname "Turnip" as England blundered at Euro 92 and failed to reach the 1994 World Cup.

Their current achievements at their respective clubs have diverged again, but not how you would expect, with Watford realistically aiming for promotion while Palace have spent most of this season in mid-table. But, for this afternoon at least, honours were even for Glenn Hoddle's two immediate predecessors in the England job.

Venables, who followed Taylor into the post in early 1994, did not have a chance to swap notes as Taylor is still recovering from a throat operation. Afterwards, Venables chose to downplay the significance of the game, which was the first time that previous England managers had found themselves in opposition at club level. He said only: "It's a bit of history, but we just both wanted three points."

Yet, despite engineering a comeback from two goals down, ever the perfectionist, he felt afterwards that they had created enough chances to win, despite Watford starting the game second in Division One and unbeaten in seven games. As it was, he showed he has not lost his touch, bringing on second- half substitute Sasa Curcic to earn Palace's equaliser.

But Venables had good reason to fear that Palace's unbeaten home run, which goes back to early September, would end when two Watford goals in three minutes gave the Hornets what looked like an unassailable lead. First Nick Wright jumped unmarked to head home from 10 yards after Allan Smart's cross and they doubled their lead when Peter Kennedy sneaked in at the far post to tap in a Smart flick-on.

Palace, however, refused to cave in and responded with a goal after 34 minutes when Nicky Rizzo swung in a free-kick and David Tuttle headed in, via a Watford boot. Rizzo made way for Curcic and the Yugoslav midfielder made a difference straight away, causing problems for Watford's defence as they sat back.

After only 15 minutes on the pitch, Curcic levelled as he dribbled into the penalty area and was brought down by Darren Bazeley. Curcic slotted the spot-kick low to Alec Chamberlain's left, leading to a result which appeared to leave both teams, if not their managers, perfectly happy.

Comments