Football: Howe halts Watford's charge

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The Independent Online
Watford 0 Swindon Town 1

SWINDON MOVED further away from the Nationwide First Division relegation zone at Vicarage Road last night, while Watford's hopes of a play-off place took a knock in front of the live Sky TV cameras.

Swindon ended a poor first half, almost devoid of noteworthy incident, with the only goal of the game. Bobby Howe collected a headed clearance from Richard Johnson following a Swindon corner and fired in his first goal for the club from 25 yards into the far corner of Alec Chamberlain's net.

Watford seldom troubled Frank Talia in the first half, but manager Graham Taylor made two half-time substitutions which enabled his side to carry the game to Swindon. But Watford were unable to find the equaliser. The nearest they came was when Nick Wright was afforded the only clear-cut chance of the night, but despite two attempts to put it in the net after Talia was stranded, he allowed Brian Borrows to clear off the line.

Wright was unlucky later when he turned on a deflected pass from Tony Daley and fired past the goalkeeper, but the ball struck the post and bounced out. Watford continued to press but Swindon defended with determination and were good value for their victory.

The Swindon manager, Jimmy Quinn, saluted his players afterwards for working hard for the surprise victory which is a setback to Watford's play-off aspirations.

Quinn said: "I thought we played very well in the first half, and in the second half it was a case of defending well, which is what we hadn't been doing in three or four games.

"But all credit to the lads, they worked really hard in training this week on the defensive side and it showed in the second half."

Quinn admitted that his men had been fortunate on a couple of occasions, saying: "We went to sleep a couple of times, they hit the post twice, but overall we looked pretty comfortable. You do need that [luck], and particularly when you're away from home and you do get caught under a lot of pressure but the lads coped with it wel.

"You've got to be as comfortable defending as you are attacking and the lads played terrifically."

Swindon climbed to 14th in the First Division table, and Quinn admitted: "It's lovely to get three points, and in this game you live from one game to the next, so we'll be able to enjoy that until Wednesday."

Watford's Graham Taylor refused to blame the TV bogey for the defeat. "I know we've failed to win six of our last seven matches in front of the cameras but I don't read too much into that," he said. "Maybe we are being a bit crafty and throwing people off the scent."

Watford: Chamberlain, Bazeley, Kennedy (Daley, h-t), Page, Palmer, Robinson, Wright, Smith (Hazen, h-t), Smart, Johnson, Easton (Mooney, 69).

Swindon Town: Talia, Robinson (Kerslake, h-t), Reeves, Leitch, Taylor, Borrows, Howe (Collins, 90), Ndah; Onuora, Hay, Gooden. Substitute not used: Walters.

Referee: K Lynch (Kirk Hammerton).

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