Football: Watford find grandstand finish

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Watford . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

Middlesbrough . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

THOUGH the international legacy of Graham Taylor may not last much beyond this week, it survives at Vicarage Road where Watford eventually managed to celebrate the opening of a smart new grandstand and Middlesbrough missed their chance to go second in the First Division.

The football Watford play does not always equate with the 'family club' ideal begun by Taylor. Six of their players have been sent off this season and yesterday it may have been the fear of reprimands that inhibited them for so long.

The influence of Middlesbrough's Craig Hignett could have been decisive had his finishing been better. As it was, he directed his best opening of the first half into the side-netting while Watford proffered no enterprise whatsoever. A minute after half-time they would have suffered the consequences had not Simon Sheppard importantly dived across goal to deflect a neat shot on the turn from John Hendrie.

At least that woke the game. Watford's Paul Furlong clouted a shot against the post and Lee Nogan was only denied a clear, straight run when brought down by Chris Morris who, extraordinarily, was not even cautioned.

The sight of a possible goal encouraged Watford to stretch the Middlesbrough defence, mainly through Nogan's greater adventure. His shooting also brightened the day, one drive in particular swerving from 18 yards only a shade wide before Furlong smashed in a massive left-foot drive after the increasingly influential Gary Porter had ingeniously raised a long pass through the centre.

Though Middlesbrough responded with a header from Hignett rebounding off the post, Watford's midfield improvement and Porter's distribution determined the outcome. Porter's second shrewd, long pass out of defence after 84 minutes left Bruce Dyer on a long run past another ungainly tackle by Morris and finishing with a fine shot in.

Watford (4-3-3): Sheppard; Dublin, Holdsworth, Ashby, Levin; Hessenthaler, Porter, Soloman; Dyer (Johnson, 89), Furlong, Nogan. Substitutes not used: Inglethorpe, Wilkerson.

Middlesbrough (4-4-2): Pears; Morris, Mohan, Whyte, Liburd; Hignett, Stamp, Mustoe, Moore; Wilkinson, Hendrie. Substitutes not used: Fleming, Cavanagh, Collett (gk).

Referee: P Vanes (Warley).