Football: Lame Newcastle beaten by Furlong

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The Independent Online
Watford . . . . . .1

Newcastle United. .0

NEWCASTLE UNITED arrived at Vicarage Road last night with every expectation of taking full advantage of Watford's wayward form to further their Premier League ambitions. Instead, the First Division leaders were beaten by the competence of 36-year- old goalkeeper Keith Waugh and the poaching of Paul Furlong.

Kevin Keegan's expensive side had taken Notts County to the cleaners on Saturday, but a repetition of the four goals they scored at home was superbly resisted by Waugh. The third- choice keeper, playing his first senior game for 14 months, steadfastly denied Newcastle, whose embarrassment at failing to master a team who had lost their previous four League games, was lessened only by West Ham's defeat at Oxford.

With nine games to go, Newcastle still lead the Hammers by five points, and in all truth should have had more in the bag last night. Theirs was the thoughtful football and Andy Cole, their recent pounds 1.75m signing from Bristol City, the focal point, but it came to nothing against the Waugh-lord of Watford.

Waugh's two saves in quick succession early in the second half were outstanding. First, a mistake gave Lee Clark a simple side-foot pass to set up David Kelly. The goal gaped, but Waugh filled it, blocking Kelly's shot from 12 yards with his body. He was next just as impressive when he pushed over a thumping shot from Cole.

The passing came from Newcastle, and the pressure too, although the midfielder Roger Willis managed to employ Pavel Srnicek by getting his head to a lofted free-kick. Willis made contact on the edge of the area, but still forced the Newcastle keeper to step smartly to his right.

The keeper's defiance stirred his team-mates into plundering their first home League win since 9 January. The winner came in the 58th minute. Gary Porter's free-kick was headed back by David Holdsworth; Ken Charlery got a toe-poke in the goalmouth melee which Furlong ended with a thrash into the net for his 22nd goal of the season. Keegan had some words to say about the 'bobbly pitch,' but he was far from despondent. 'We can see the winning post,' he said, 'but we still have to get there.'

The Watford keeper certainly earned his dough, and all credit to his team. Keegan had to face the fact that this was a classic case of the fall guys not playing to the script. There was even time for a goal-line clearance from full-back Barry Ashby in the dying seconds, but the night belonged to Waugh.

Watford: Waugh; Soloman, Ashby, Dublin, Holdsworth, Lavin, Hessenthaler, Willis (Bazeley, 79), Furlong, Charlery, Porter. Substitute not used: Dyer.

Newcastle United: Srnicek; Venison, Beresford, Bracewell, Scott, Howey, Lee, Cole, Kelly, Clark, Sellars (Robinson, 73). Substitute not used: Kilcline.

Referee: R Gifford (Llanbradach).