Football: Old score settled with draw

Wolves 0 Watford 0 Attendance: 23,408
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The Independent Online
IN HIS previous job as Wolves' manager, Graham Taylor never managed to beat Watford, where he now presides. Yesterday he was back at Molineux for the first time since his unhappy spell there ended three years ago, hoping that Wolves' unsuccessful run against the Hertfordsire club would continue for at least another game.

His wish, at least in the sense of avoiding defeat, was granted. And, given the paternal feelings for his old employers to which he confessed after the game, it was probably the right, as well as the most just, result. Taylor admitted that he still looks out for Wolves' results and he even touted the club as contenders for the play-offs, despite this goalless draw that left them 11th in the First Division.

One legacy of Taylor's 18-month period in charge of Wolves was his signing of Robbie Keane, the outstanding performer in this particular game. Taylor was modesty itself in underplaying his role in bringing the then 14-year- old striker to the club four years ago. But he could also afford to be smug as he pointed out with glee how his players nullified the threat posed by one of the division's most dangerous centre-forwards.

The ever-willing Keane was never far away from the action as he was forced to perform the duties of two men. Although he was partnered by new signing Havard Flo, Wolves' manager Colin Lee acknowledged the Norwegian's rustiness as he has just joined from the German Bundesliga, where they are enjoying their winter break. Havard, the older brother of Chelsea's Tore, must himself have wondered why the English game does not treat itself to a break when he ran out at the start of the second half to a blast of snow full in the face.

Yet it was the visitors who came closest to opening the scoring early on in the first half when after 10 minutes Peter Kennedy moved to the top of the penalty box and drove in a curling shot that Mike Stowell did well to punch out. He produced an eq ually alert save after 66 minutes when he palmed away Nick Wright's goal-bound and deflected cross.

Thereafter the defences held sway and both sides were reduced to long- range efforts, with Keane no exception. Seven minutes after the break, he shot from 20 yards out and forced Alec Chamberlain to push the ball round his post. He had earlier crossed from the byline only to see an unmarked Carl Robinson volley over. Keane, called "a very clever player" afterwards by his manager, will need to live up to this accolade next week. His team play Arsenal in the Cup.