Football: Watford draw blank at the neighbours
Tuesday 28 January 1997
The M1 derby - as some choose to characterise this meeting of Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire - produced predictably heavy traffic last night before ending in equally predictable gridlock.
Watford, after all, are the draw specialists of the Second Division and their 14th in 26 League games leaves them on the fringes of the play-off zone. Luton, drained by recent exertions, remain second.
Watford arrived unbeaten in their past 20 games, while Luton had lost only three in their last 26. This, however, was Luton's fourth game in nine days - as a result of their enforced three-week lay-off - and they had had only two days to recover from a physically and mentally sapping 6-2 defeat in their FA Cup replay at Bolton.
For all the enthusiastic exhortations of the crowd, neither side was able to to attain any coherence. In the circumstances, the hundred or so red and yellow balloons released by the visiting fans formed something of a conversation piece as they turned Watford's left flank into an effective exclusion zone.
On the occasions when Luton's wide midfielder Des Linton managed to negotiate the bobbling hazards and cross the ball, Luton's left-back Mitchell Thomas proved dangerously capable of outjumping Watford's defence.
By and large, however, Watford's defenders performed capably, with 18- year-old Darren Ward composed and positive on his debut. At the other end, there were flickers of hope for Watford as Devon White twice broke clear of the home side's offside trap, but the Luton keeper Ian Feuer was alert to the danger.
Watford's forward prospects were diminished after 35 minutes, however, when their Republic of Ireland player David Connolly had to be replaced by Wayne Andrews.
It was not until the 56th minute that the first clear chance of the match occurred, as Graham Alexander's lay-back offered his captain, Steve Davis, a sight of goal but the defender skewed his shot wide.
Luton, nevertheless, appeared encouraged. After 62 minutes, Paul Showler's cross- cum-shot from the left troubled Miller in the Watford goal. The keeper had to react again two minutes later when Tony Thorpe, for once shrugging off Ward's attention, produced a shot on the turn which Miller did well to turn away.
Ward soon made up for that blemish, however. After the Luton substitute David Oldfield had burst past two players to set up Linton, Watford's young defender somehow managed to deflect a power drive over the bar.
Luton Town (4-4-2): Feuer; James, Davis, M Johnson, Thomas; Linton, Alexander, Hughes, Showler; Marshall (Oldfield, 61), Thorpe. Substitutes not used: Grant, Patterson.
Watford (4-4-2): Miller; Bazeley, Ward, Page, Gibbs; Slater, Palmer, R Johnson, Armstrong; White, Connolly (Andrews, 35). Substitutes not used: Easton, Noel-Williams.
Referee: M Pierce (Portsmouth).
Latest in Sport
Daniel Sturridge injury: Alongside Luis Suarez, how the Liverpool SAS may FAIL to become the most lethal partnership in Premier League history
Arsenal: Four remaining fixtures - will they beat Everton to the final Champions League place?
Lukas Podolski future: Double for Arsenal won't see misfit get a new contract
Barcelona 1 Real Madrid 2 match report: Gareth Bale scores wonder goal to claim Copa del Rey for Real
Luis Suarez: Could Liverpool cash in on their star striker if they won the Premier League this season?
- 1 Poveglia: 'World's most haunted island' up for sale...is anyone brave enough to buy it?
- 2 Babies cry at night to stop mothers procreating, scientists claim
- 3 24 people applied for the 'world's toughest job', here are their interviews
- 4 Andre Johnson: Wu-Tang Clan-discovered rapper severed his penis and jumped from LA building
- 5 Mrs Doubtfire 2: Robin Williams set to star in sequel to 1993 comedy
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
US Navy christens huge $3 billion destroyer ship USS Zumwalt that appears as a fishing boat on enemy radar
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
Nigel Farage on Have I Got News For You: Ukip leader ridiculed over expenses and party 'fruitcakes'
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...
£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...