Wily Wooter inspires Watford

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WAtford ground out a lead against their fellow promotion challengers Birmingham at Vicarage Road yesterday before playing with some style and flair and finishing up comfortable winners. Allan Nielsen and Neil Cox scored the second-half goals that maintain Watford's unbeaten record in the League this season.

WAtford ground out a lead against their fellow promotion challengers Birmingham at Vicarage Road yesterday before playing with some style and flair and finishing up comfortable winners. Allan Nielsen and Neil Cox scored the second-half goals that maintain Watford's unbeaten record in the League this season.

Graham Taylor, the Watford manager, was pleased with his team's performance but warned the supporters that the season ahead holds many more difficult challenges. "There is an air of expectancy because we have done so well that they just turn up watch us score goals and win games," he said. "Birmingham made it very difficult and other teams will as well. These are the games that are important to win."

Indeed. And especially if you do not play particularly well. In the first half, which was a tepid affair, Watford were often second best but managed to go in at the break level. In fact, Watford could have taken the lead after 14 minutes but Gifton Noel-Williams headed wide from Nordin Wooter's centre.

Birmingham then had a couple of half-chances but Geoff Horsfield failed to convert Stan Lazaridis's pass. Moments later Horsfield repayed the compliment with a low cross for Lazaridis but Alec Chamberlain, in the home goal, blocked. Early in the second half, Chamberlain again produced a fine save from Bryan Hughes' deflected shot.

At the other end Ian Bennett, in Birmingham's goal, had been largely a spectator but was given a rude awakening when Watford took the lead on 57 minutes. Heidar Helguson chested down a half-cleared corner, shot goalwards and Nielsen guided the ball in from eight yards.

Watford, their confidence enhanced, then stepped up a gear, Helguson 'scoring' only for it to be disallowed for offside. However, they were not to be denied and the points were safe on 75 minutes when the impressive Wooter made a fine jinking run down the right before picking out at the far post an unmarked Cox, who headed home.

Goals: Nielsen (58) 1-0; Cox (76) 2-0.

Watford: Chamberlain, Cox, Robinson, Page, Palmer, Mooney, Wooter, Noel-Williams, Helguson, Ward, Nielsen. Substitutes not used: Ngongé, Day (gk), Gibbs, Easton, Foley.

Birmingham City: Bennett; Eaden (Marcelo, 80), Grainger, Holdsworth, Horsfield, Hughes, Lazaridis (Ndlovu, 80), Gill, M Johnson, Burchill (A Johnson, 62), Sonner. Substitutes not used: Poole (gk), Robinson.

Referee: S Baines (Chesterfield).

Booking: Birmingham: Holdsworth.

Man of the match: Wooter (Watford).

Attendance: 12,355.

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