Football: Hughes torpedoes Watford

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West Bromwich Albion 4 Watford 1

WEST BROM'S Lee Hughes showed some of his trademark brilliance to bag a brace of goals which helped sink Watford and take his personal tally for the season to 12.

Hughes, currently the target of a string of Premiership clubs including Middlesbrough and Leicester, was at his dangerous best as Albion convincingly moved back into the Division One top 10.

Kevin Kilbane and Fabian De Freitas were the other Albion marksmen on the score sheet, with Peter Kennedy grabbing Watford's only moment of glory with a penalty.

Albion, who were in the more determined mood, opened their account in the 16th minute when Sean Flynn's throw-in on the right was flicked on by Shaun Murphy for the Republic of Ireland winger Kilbane to shoot past Alec Chamberlain.

But Watford levelled the score in the 32nd minute after Jason van Blerk pulled down Kennedy. The Watford defender took the kick himself, drilling it to the right of goalkeeper Alan Miller.

But Albion regained the lead before the break. Kilbane's shot struck De Freitas and it ran to Hughes, who made no mistake with a right-footed shot past Chamberlain.

Hughes then turned goal-maker as he caught the Watford defence flat-footed with a well-placed pass to send the unmarked De Freitas breaking for goal. The Dutchman out-paced Richard Johnson before dribbling his way round Chamberlain to side-foot the ball into the back of the empty net.

The unstoppable Hughes then made it 4-1 with his 11th league goal in the 84th minute when he latched on to a header from Andy McDermott coolly to slide his shot past the helpless Chamberlain.

Watford, unbeaten in their previous four games, were always second best and they never looked capable of achieving the victory that would have taken them up to second spot in the table.

Goals: Kilbane (1-0) 16; Kennedy pen (1-1) 32; Hughes (2-1) 37; De Freitas (3-1) 72; Hughes (4-1) 84.

West Bromwich Albion: Miller, McDermott, Van Blerk, Flynn, Murphy, Carbon, Quinn, Bortolazzi (Maresca, 84), De Freitas (Angel, 88), Hughes, Kilbane. Substitute not used: Burgess.

Watford: Chamberlain, Gibbs, Kennedy, Palmer, Millen, Mooney, Smart, Hyde (Robinson, 77), Hazan (Bazeley, 82), Johnson, Wright (Noel-Williams, 82).

Booking: West Bromwich: McDermott.

Referee: C. Foy (St Helens).

Attendance: 11,840.

n John Aldridge, the Tranmere Rovers manager, has confirmed he is to stay in charge at Prenton Park..

The former Liverpool striker came close to resigning early last week, with Rovers rooted to the bottom of the table and the club facing financial problems.

But, after Saturday's 2-2 draw at Birmingham Aldridge revealed he is happy to stay with the club after talks with the board of directors. He now feels that the future is bright for Tranmere.

He said: "I am determined to stay, more so than ever. I have really been lifted by the board Hopefully, we can overcome the financial difficulties."

Doncaster Belles denied the defending Premier League champions their first win of the season with a 2-1 victory at Everton - their second defeat from three matches. Croydon also won today 3-0 over their hosts Liverpool FC Ladies.