Watford (0) 0 Aston Villa (0) 1 FT

Watford (0) 0 Aston Villa (0) 1 FT

Delaney 68

Watford v Aston Villa 24/08/99 7.45

Watford                 (0) 0 Aston Villa             (0) 1 FT
                              Delaney 68

Aston Villa had goalkeeper David James to thank for keeping them on level terms in the FA Carling Premiership clash against Watford at Vicarage Road. The former Liverpool keeper produced a superb save from Michel Ngonge's goalbound header after 26 minutes in a rare highlight of an otherwise limp first half. John Gregory's side had the best of a poor opening period with Dion Dublin and Julian Joachim showing glimpses of their blossoming partnership that has already produced five goals this season. As early as the second minute Alan Wright's left-wing cross found Joachim assuming the role of provider with a neat flick that Dublin, at full stretch, just failed to connect with 12 yards out. Normal service was resumed minutes later with Dublin's flick on this time releasing Joachim whose first time left foot drive flew wide of Chris Day's right hand post. Watford manager Graham Taylor, facing his old club for the first time since leaving in 1990, fielded an unchanged side from the team that defeated Bradford here on Saturday. Villa made one change from the team that saw its unbeaten run ended by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, Paul Merson making his first start of the season in place of Alan Thompson in midfield. It was left to Lee Hendrie to make Villa tick in midfield however, the youngster at the heart of most of Villa's forward moves. Watford's biggest threat came from crosses, particularly from the left foot of Peter Kennedy or Clint Easton, and in predictable style they fashioned the best chance of the half from that area. On 26 minutes Kennedy's cross towards Tommy Mooney was cut out by Southgate but before the Villa defence had time to catch their breath Easton had whipped in a dangerous ball to the far post. Michel Ngonge found himself unmarked and his diving header seemed destined for the top corner until David James flung himself acrobatically to his left to claw the ball away for a corner. That seemed to spur Villa into action and they produced two good chances in the space of a minute just after the half hour. First Joachim forged himself a bit of space just inside the area but his shot, with the outside of the right foot, was straight at Day who saved comfortably. Seconds later it took a last ditch block to prevent the impressive Hendrie getting a shot on target after a delightful neat turn from the England international following Wright's pass. Villa survived a heart-stopping moment seconds before the interval when James dashed from his area only to be beaten to the ball by Ngonge, the keeper grateful to see Mooney only able to turn the cross
Watford: Day, Lyttle, Williams, Page, Robinson, Hyde (Bonnot, 77), Palmer, Easton (Foley, 77), Kennedy, Ngonge (Gudmundsson, 77), Mooney. Subs not used: Gibbs, Walker. Booked: Williams.
Aston Villa: James, Ehiogu, Southgate, Calderwood, Delaney, Taylor, Hendrie, Merson (Boateng, 80), Wright, Joachim, Dublin. Subs not used: Watson, Oakes, Ghrayib, Vassell. Booked: , Boateng.
Attendance: 19,161.
Referee: Steve Bennett (Orpington).



Martin Sivorn 1999.E-Mail Me