Watford suffer sinking feeling

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The Independent Online

As if the festive season fixtures pile-up did not create enough problems for clubs at the wrong end of the Premiership, Watford yesterday found theirs exacerbated by a downpour at Vicarage Road that caused their match against Wigan to be abandoned 12 minutes into the second half. The score, at the time when driving, heavy rain and a waterlogged pitch rendered conditions too dangerous to continue, was 1-1.

Watford, playing with enthusiasm and vim, had dominated the opening minutes, but wasted their best chances. Ashley Young missed from two yards after only six minutes and then hit a post with a swerving free-kick from 20 yards a few minutes later. The pitch, already shimmering with water, was at best tricky and at worst treacherous at that stage.

Wigan went ahead after 23 minutes when Kevin Kilbane crossed from the left and Emile Heskey, in space on the left side of the penalty area, swivelled and shot left-footed across and beyond Ben Foster from 15 yards. It was a reminder of the days when he played regularly for England.

Heskey fired in another drive from outside the area that was well saved by Foster before Adrian Boothroyd's men levelled after 44 minutes. Jordan Stewart crossed from the left and Tamas Priskin headed the ball downwards at the near post where it slithered through the arms of Chris Kirkland.

The watching England goalkeeping coach Ray Clemence could hardly have been impressed with what was, even in such difficult conditions, a basic error. Afterwards, as the rain intensified and flooded the pitch, making it almost impossible for the ball to roll, the frolic turned to farce as players slithered and slid on the puddle-covered surface before the fourth official, Graham Poll, having consulted both managers, spoke to referee Steve Tanner.

The end was inevitable.

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