Watford 0 Leeds United 0

Hulse despair after double woodwork

Nick Callow
Sunday 02 October 2005 00:00

But they clearly are in the results business too these days because Watford and Leeds fans stayed behind in numbers to enthusiastically cheer their players off the pitch. That probably says more about both clubs being happy just to be in existence than with the match for, either way, this was not one for the neutrals, should such a football spectator exist.

Watford and Leeds are supposed to represent two of the brighter teams in the Championship and have been widely tipped as potential play-off candidates so maybe that is why they all appeared so content. The draw and a point-a-piece means they remain in the top six.

Leeds' Kevin Blackwell, however, was clearly the happier of the two managers. He had a few lame excuses and largely blamed the pitch for the poor quality of football, but stated: "When you come to a team fifth in the table you don't want to do anything outrageous. We're satisfied not being beaten."

How different a view from his Watford counterpart, Adrian Boothroyd, a former Leeds coaching colleague, who said: "I think Leeds were happy, but I'm disappointed with the result. I like to play attacking, entertaining football and send people home with a smile on their face. You can make all sorts of excuses about the pitch, players having viruses and funny-coloured shirts, but we played to win."

Watford were just the better of two extremely poor teams early on as Leeds fullback Gary Kelly twice had to head over his own bar to clear crosses from the right. There was little else happening, though, and wayward shots from Watford's Jordan Stewart and then Leeds' Robbie Blake were met by ironic cheers from all corners of the ground.

Blake was also involved in the game's only genuine goalmouth incident, which came midway through the first half. He tried to get past Malky Mackay in the Watford area and referee Brian Curson must have missed Mackay's clearance with a hand as he allowed play to continue with Rob Hulse having the goal at his mercy.

The Leeds striker, who hit a first-half 12-minute hat-trick at Derby last week, turned away to join supporters in celebration at what he thought was yet another goal only for the ball to hit a post and roll on to the other before Watford defender, Lloyd Doyley, hacked clear off the line.

Blackwell called it "a freak of nature" and tried to inject some life into his attack by sending on Northern Ireland international striker David Healy nine minutes into the second half. But Watford were the better team in most areas of a bumpy pitch now and despite a late half-chance for another Leeds substitute, Danny Pugh, this game drifted inevitably to the first ever goalless draw between the two sides.

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