It was a night of contrasting fortunes for the FA Cup finalists. As Manchester United were winning their game, Millwall, their opposition in next month's showdown at Cardiff, continued their poor run of League form here last night.
It is has clearly been bad for the Lions' health to reach their first Cup final because, since beating Sunderland in their semi-final at the beginning of April, Dennis Wise's side have failed to win in any of their last five games.
These last League games for Millwall are not about simply deciding who will make the starting line-up at the Millennium Stadium because the London club still have the play-offs in their sights. However, Wise himself was unable to inspire his team to victory at the New Den against a Watford side who themselves needed points to be certain of avoiding relegation.
Wise's assistant manager, Ray Wilkins, confirmed the impression that the Cup final is on his players' minds when he said: "The players are being careful about getting walloped. The guys are finding it difficult to come to terms with having reached the final. But I was still disappointed how we succumbed in this game.''
Millwall started off by far the brighter side against visitors who appeared to be going through the motions. The Hornets' manager, Ray Lewington, said: "We were scared of our shadows and were an absolute disaster in the first half.''
Three chances fell Millwall's way within six minutes in the first half but they took only one of them and that poor return left Watford a way back into this game. With 16 minutes gone Peter Sweeney swung a free-kick out to Nick Chadwick at the far post and his header was met firmly by Danny Dichio, who was six yards out. Two minutes later Millwall could have doubled their lead but Chadwick headed over when he was eight yards out. Soon after that Paul Ifill went on a dribble into the box only to put his shot low past the post.
Watford were a transformed side in the second half as Lewington said: "We showed we can play.'' Seven minutes after the interval Lee Cook's cross was headed by Paul Devlin and Bruce Dyer stuck a leg out for the equaliser.
The impetus was now with the visitors and 19 minutes later Cook did all the work himself and let fly from 20 yards to secure Watford's third win in four games.
Millwall (4-4-2): Marshall; Ryan, Lawrence, Ward, Livermore; Ifill (McCammon, 70), Wise, Cahill (Elliott, 70), Sweeney (Cogan, 81); Dichio, Chadwick. Substitutes not used: Gueret (gk), Harris.
Watford (4-4-2): Chamberlain; Mayo, Dyche, Gayle, Baird; Cook (Ardley, 79), Hyde, Mahon, Devlin; Bouazza (Fitzgerald, 89), Dyer. Substitutes not used: Pidgeley (gk), Doyley, Vernazza.
Referee: A Kaye (West Yorkshire).Reuse content