This Is CheshireHornets find target twice but Town secure double (From This Is Cheshire)

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Archive - Saturday, 14 December 2002

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Hornets find target twice but Town secure double

A SPIRITED second-half showing from Watford saw them score only the eighth and ninth goals away from home this season, but it was still not enough to prevent Ipswich Town completing the double over the Hornets with a 4-2 victory at Portman Road on Saturday, December 14.

Having trailed 2-0 at the interval, goals from Tommy Smith and Neil Cox reduced the deficit to 2-1 and 3-2 respectively, but the Hornets were ultimately undone by their defensive frailties as the Tractor Boys added to their 2-0 victory at Vicarage Road last month.

Ray Lewington, in a bid to end Watford's poor away form and a run of four defeats in five matches, made two changes to the side that was beaten by Derby County. The fit again Allan Nielsen replaced Jamie Hand, who dropped out of the 16, while Stephen Glass replaced Lloyd Doyley, who was on the bench, along with the recalled Paolo Vernazza. Neal Ardley moved back into defence to replace Doyley, while Jermaine Pennant switched to the right flank.

Joe Royle made four changes to the side that drew 1-1 with Brighton & Hove Albion in mid-week. Andy Marshall replaced injured on-loan keeper Paul Gerrard, Tommy Miller came in for another casualty, John McGreal, while the Ipswich manager completely switched his forward line Richard Naylor and Pablo Counago taking the places of Alun Armstrong and Darren Bent.

Ipswich's problems with scoring were highlighted by the fact they had three strikers, including Marcus Bent who played in Ipswich Reserves' 1-0 defeat at Vicarage Road on Wednesday, and one attacking midfielder filling their outfield player contingent on the bench.

The home side had the better of the first five minutes without seriously threatening, but Watford had a promising opening when Pennant's low cross from the right was left by Heidar Helguson for Nielsen, but the Dane chose to hit it first time when he had time to take a touch and fired well over.

Stephen Glass also shot well wide from distance shortly after, while at the other end Jamie Clapham fired wide from the left side of the area after being played through by Counago.

Watford missed a great chance to take the lead after 15 minutes when Pennant laid the ball back to the supporting Ardley, and his right-sided cross was met by the unmarked Nielsen eight yards out, but the Dane's header lacked power and Marshall was able to get across and parry.

However, the visitors were nearly caught out five minutes later when a Watford attack broke down and Jim Magilton broke forward 40 yards before finding Counago on the right, and his cross was turned golwards by Tommy Miller, but Cox cleared.

A minute later, Marcus Gayle's poor attempt to cut out a through ball fell short of Alec Chamberlain, and Naylor hooked the ball goalwards from right of the six-yard box but Ardley was able to clear.

However, Watford never really cleared their lines, and when the ball was thrown in from the left after 22 minutes, Clapham slipped a pass across to Miller, who had time to pick his spot before rifling an unstoppable 25-yard plus rising drive past the helpless Chamberlain to give Ipswich a 1-0 lead.

It could have got even worse for the Hornets inside a minute when Hermann Hreidarsson was played in on the edge of the area by Counago, but Chamberlain did very well to block with his legs, and then save Hreidarsson's weakly hit follow up after Miller's scuffed shot had fallen to him in the area.

Ardley went close with a 25-yard curling free-kick on 28 minutes after Helguson had been pulled back on the edge of the area, but six minutes later Chamberlain had to be alert to save a snap-shot from Miller after good Ipswich work on the right.

Helguson hooked over after Micah Hyde had retrieved an over-hit Pennant cross from the right, but six minutes from half-time Watford shot themselves in the foot.

With bodies up-field from an attacking free-kick, Ardley was dispossessed by Counago on the left, level with the Ipswich area, and he spread the ball across to Naylor. Cox initially stood off, allowing to Naylor to run at him, and then Hyde failed to get in a sufficiently strong challenge as Naylor broke through to the edge of the area, without being closed down, before slipping a low shot beyond Chamberlain to make it 2-0.

Within two minutes the Hornets had a great opportunity to reduce the deficit as they broke three on one with Smith leading the charge, but as Smith looked to supply the killer pass to either Pennant or Helguson the ball got stuck under his feet and the chance was lost.

But four minutes after the restart, Watford were back in the game. Gayle played the ball forward and Helguson won the header, and looked to break through. Although he was blocked off the ball, Uriah Rennie played the advantage as Smith ran through and calmly lifted the ball beyond Marshall to register the Hornets' first away goal in three matches.

Shortly after, Chamberlain had to react smartly to prevent Counago latching on to a loose ball in the area after Naylor's attempted reverse pass had deflected through off a couple of opposing players.

Helguson scuffed a reasonable opportunity wide of the near post after Nielsen's attempted shot from the edge of the area had lofted up, and Watford continued to apply the pressure with the home side looking rattled.

Ipswich made their first change after 63 minutes, bringing on Marcus Bent for Naylor, and within three minutes the change had worked. Hyde managed to get the ball off Clapham on the left side of the area, but it ran loose to Miller. His low drive was well saved by Chamberlain, but he couldn't hold on to the shot, leaving Counago with a routine follow up to make it 3-1 as the Hornets' appealed for offside.

Smith had a shot deflected behind two minutes later, and from Ardley's resulting corner Cox headed wide.

Pennant should have done better when he cut back inside after Jim Magilton's poor back header had fallen nicely for him, but he failed to work Marshall from the edge of the area.

With 74 minutes gone, Watford gave themselves another lifeline when an Ardley corner from the right was met by a thumping Cox header into the top corner to make it 3-2.

Vernazza then came on to replace Robinson, before Clapham fired a rasping drive over the top after cutting down the left.

Both sides made more changes with 13 minutes left, with Darren Bent coming on for Counago, while Dominic Foley replaced Pennant.

Gavin Mahon replaced Nielsen with seven minutes remaining as Watford went for broke, pushing Gayle up front, but the game was up with four minutes left. Thomas Gaardsoe launched a clearance forward, and an unsure Cox let the ball bounce on the edge of the area, giving Marcus Bent the chance to swivel and hook the ball into the far corner to score Ipswich's fourth.

Only a fine save from Chamberlain prevented Fabian Wilnis from netting a fifth in injury-time after the Tractor Boys had counter-attacked, while, at the other end, Helguson looped a header harmlessly into Marshall's arms from a long free-kick as the Hornets were left to contemplate another setback on their travels.

Watford: Chamberlain; Ardley, Cox, Gayle, Robinson; Pennant, Hyde, Glass, Nielsen; Smith, Helguson. Substitutes: Vernazza for Robinson after 74 mins; Foley for Pennant after 77 mins; Mahon for Nielsen after 83 mins; Doyley and Lee not used.

Ipswich Town: Marshall; Holland, Gaardsoe, Hreidarsson; Wilnis, Miller, Wright, Clapham; Magilton; Counago, Naylor. Substitutes: M. Bent for Naylor after 63 mins; D. Bent for Counago after 77 mins; Ambrose, Reuser and Pullen not used.

Bookings: Ardley for dissent after 76 mins.

Attendance: 22,985.

Referee: Uriah Rennie.

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