Football: Wolves flaunt Taylor legacy

Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 Watford 0
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The Independent Online
THE WATFORD manager, Graham Taylor, achieved some sort of revenge over his old club but grinding out this goalless draw in the Black Country, which the snow at the start of the second half turned into distinctly bleak country instead, was cold comfort for most .

However, as his side had lost 2-0 to Wolves at Vicarage Road in August, Taylor was not slow to point up how his Hornets had improved in the intervening months. Charitably, Taylor did not start highlighting where Wolves have gone wrong since that game, as they have slipped to 11th in the First Division, while Watford are on the fringes of the play-offs in seventh.

Taylor managed Wolves for a largely unhappy 18 months from March 1994, as he carried over to Molineux the stigma of failing to take England to the World Cup that summer. And although he failed to get Wolves promoted, his legacy, unknown at the time of his departure, was to get Robbie Keane to sign his first contract at the age of 14. Keane, a Republic of Ireland international but no relation of his compatriot and Manchester United namesake Roy, was the focal point of virtually every meaningful move by his side. With 14 goals to his name this season, despite nearly two months out injured, Wolves' hopes of reaching the play-offs lie with him.

Taylor was extremely modest afterwards about his part in signing and nurturing Keane, admitting only that he, on the advice of others, ensured the prodigy joined the club. But despite the praise being lavished on Keane, there is no evidence it is distracting him from his work, as he dropped deep to pick up the ball and time after time ran out to the flanks to chase passes hit over the top of Watford's solid defence.

Keane's selflessness nearly paid off just before the break when his cross found Carl Robinson but the unmarked midfielder volleyed over the crossbar. Then, seven minutes into the second half, Keane hit a low shot from 20 yards that was pushed around the post.

Although Watford do not possess a striker of Keane's quality, they nearly returned south with the reverse of that August scoreline, as Watford forced Wolves' goalkeeper Mike Stowell into two smart saves. The first, after 10 minutes, when Peter Kennedy hit a curling shot to Stowell's near post and then with 67 minutes gone, Nick Wright's cross was deflected and goalbound but the keeper palmed it away to safety.

Wolverhampton Wanderers: (4-4-2): Stowell; Atkins, Muscat, Richards, Curle; Gilkes, Robinson, Osborn, Gomez (Corica, 70); Keane, Flo. Substitutes not used: Simpson, Connolly.

Watford (4-4-2): Chamberlain; Bazeley, Page, Palmer, Iroha; Kennedy, Hyde, Easton, Wright (Daley, 87); Smart (Mooney, 82), Gifton-Williams. Substitute not used: Bonnot.

Referee: Brian Coddington (Sheffield) Bookings: Wolves: Muscat, Robinson; Watford: Smart.

Man of the match: Keane.

Attendance: 23,408.