Football: Mooney shows value


WATFORD TOOK another step towards a place in the Nationwide First Division play-offs last night, while Cambridge United ensured a move up to the Second Division, both thanks to away wins.

Tommy Mooney scored both Watford's goals in a 2-1 victory at Port Vale, their sixth consecutive success. It was a miserable night for Vale, who were pitched back into the relegation scrap and lost their midfielder, Stewart Talbot, with a broken leg.

In a bad-tempered match, Mooney scored his fifth goal in five games to put Watford ahead in the 24th minute after Paul Robinson got the better of Talbot to pull the ball back.

The Watford fans had barely finished celebrating when Vale were awarded a penalty after Steve Palmer appeared to throw a punch at Alan Lee. The referee, George Cain, consulted a linesman before booking Palmer. Tommy Widdrington equalised from the spot.

But Vale's revival was cut short two minutes later when a shuddering challenge by Robinson left Talbot with a compound fracture of the tibia and fibula in his right leg. There were angry exchanges between players on both sides before the Vale midfielder was carried off.

The match was settled on the hour when Mooney gathered a long clearance from the Watford goalkeeper, Alec Chamberlain, to score after Paul Musselwhite had parried his first effort.

John Taylor came on as a substitute to clinch automatic promotion for Cambridge United with two late goals in a 2-0 victory at Rochdale that took them top of the Third Division.

Taylor, Cambridge's all-time leading scorer, converted an 83rd-minute penalty with his first touch and added a header two minutes from time for his 19th goal of the season.

At the other end of the table, a Peter Beardsley goal gave Hartlepool United a 1-0 victory over Leyton Orient that all but saved his side from relegation to the Conference.

In the Second Division, Wigan and Stoke enhanced their chances of reaching the play-offs with victories while Bournemouth lost 2-1 at Colchester, their fifth game without a win. Bournemouth still occupy the final play- off berth but Wigan, who won 3-1 at home to Lincoln, are only four points behind them with three games in hand. Stoke are six points behind Bournemouth with one match in hand after their 2-1 win at the bottom club, Macclesfield.

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