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Bradford survive

Pre-season tour
Gallen signs
Hornets sting Town
Owls shot down
Gray returns
Wijnhard crashes out
Worthington woe
Ayre departs
First home point
Bye Bye Brucie
New manager announced
Fans show anger
9 points to safety
First home win
Ndlovu at first sight
Town leap to safety
Macari wins award
More cup woe
Ndlovu joins Blades
Jamie jumps ship
Town hit rock bottom again
Morris' McApline move
Prodigal son returns
Biggest win
QPR doomed
Nearly there
The bitter end

Chapter Three

Here we go, here we go…!

Saturday 12th August.

Played 1 lost 1. Maybe my closed season pessimism is justified as we slipped to a 2-1 defeat against Graham Taylor's Watford. Admittedly they were a Premiership side last season but they finished bottom of the pile and it is almost 12 months since they last enjoyed success on their travels. All three goals were scored by Watford as they gifted us an own goal to put us into a deserved 16th minute lead.

Kevin Gallen was given his full debut for Town playing up front alongside Clyde Wijnhard with Martin Smith given a role wide on the left but apart from this the side was very much the same as the one that finished so miserably last season. After a few minutes settling down, Town looked very bright in the early stages launching a number of excellent attacks that caused the visitors defence a number of problems. Jamie Vincent's well-placed free kick was punched clear by Baardsen in the 4th minute as Gallen and Smith lurked to capitalise on any mistake and Dean Gorré flashed a volley just over the bar on the quarter hour mark.

Town took a worthy lead on 16 minutes when Watford's Steve Palmer who appeared to be under little real pressure from Clyde Wijnhard at the far post nodded in a Martin Smith cross from the left. It seemed as though it would only be a matter of time before Town added to their lead with a goal scored by someone in a blue and white shirt, and Kevin Gallen looked pretty sharp and held the ball up quite intelligently at times.

Unfortunately, Clyde Wijnhard had one of those games where his shooting efforts were more threatening to the fans behind the goal than the back of the net, although he did have a good scoring opportunity blocked by the legs of Baardsen shortly after the goal. Town should have doubled the lead shortly before the half hour mark when Kevin Gallen was unlucky to hit the post and not the back of the Watford net, and some of Town's play at this stage of the game was a bright as the August sunshine bathing the McAlpine.

As the first half developed there was the inevitable feeling that our 1-0 lead was not going to be enough, and sure enough Watford equalised just before half time. Having had their first worthwhile attack only a few minutes earlier, a Neil Cox shot from left side of the penalty area seemed to deceive the diving Nico Vaesen and appeared to bounce of his chest into the back of the net. With the end of the half imminent, it was a shame they couldn't hold on long enough to allow them to regroup during the interval.

The second half started with Watford on top as Town still looked shell shocked following the injury time equaliser and the Hornets scored a second within a couple of minutes of the restart. Michel Ngonge who had a loan spell with Town at the back end of last season (mainly in the treatment room) came on as a second half substitute and had an almost immediate impact, threading the ball through to the advancing Tommy Smith who slid the ball under Nico Vaesen to finally wake up their 2˝ thousand or so supporters. Once again Town's defensive frailties looked as though they might cost them dear as the hangover from last season looked to be continuing into this campaign.

Once again Wijnhard had an opportunity to punish the visitors but his 53rd minute shot was wayward (once again) and then Smith failed with his attempted lob over Espen Baardsen. Town gradually came back into the game but Bruce seemed reluctant to change things around until he finally brought on Chris Hay in the 70th minute for the luckless Clyde Wijnhard. Hay took up a position wide left where he remained largely anonymous leaving Martin Smith to ply his trade in his more traditional central attacking role, but for all they huffed and puffed they couldn't find an equaliser. As Town sought to restore parity, Simon Baldry was brought on to replace the ineffective Kenny Irons in the 83rd minute followed 2 minutes later by Ben Thornley for the tiring Kevin Gallen.

There were two late chances to salvage a point from the game, but Jamie Vincent hoisted his effort high over the bar and then Chris Hay had a fierce shot deflected over when it seemed to be goal bound. I would be hard pressed to find a man of the match, but Chris Holland definitely wouldn't be my choice as it took me until about 10-15 minutes had passed to notice that he was playing. I think my choice would have to be Kevin Gallen who got through a lot of hard work up front without troubling the visitors keeper too much, although for nowt we shouldn't expect Alan Shearer.

Despite the bright start, it became evident that the longer the game went on we were desperately short of attacking ideas and I still feel that Delroy Facey should get a game as he has an ability to troubling defences with his aggressive running. A target man must be a priority on the signings front, but with the money situation being as it is purported to be there seems little chance of this happening. We will have to be more effective next week against another relegated Premiership side, Sheffield Wednesday or we will be in danger of trailing the leaders by six points.

TOWN 1 (Palmer 16 o.g)

Watford 2 (Cox 44; Smith 47)

Position in table - 18th

Town - Vaesen; Jenkins; Vincent; Armstrong; Lucketti; Holland; Gorré; Irons (Baldry 83); Smith; Wijnhard (Hay 70); Gallen (Thornley 85). Subs not used - Margetson; Edwards

Watford - Baardsen; Cox; Robinson; Page; Palmer; Mooney; Wooter; Smith (Gibbs 87); Ward; Perpetuini (Ngonge 46); Nielsen; Subs not used -Chamberlain; Easton; Foley.

Referee - P Richards. Attendance 13,018



All words and thoughts by Chris except where stated.

A big thank you to Machala for putting up with me doing this and Ian for his support and my Mum for her proof reading.

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