Writer: Chris Mitchell
Date:Sunday September 16 2007
With ten minutes remaining at Vicarage Road Southampton looked set to leave with three precious points, but Watford sub Darius Henderson`s scrambled late goals wrecked George Burley`s afternoon. The equaliser came out of nowhere, with Saints` Kelvin Davis barely tested since Nathan Dyer`s strike on seventy minutes. But Doyley scythed past Vignal and slid a perfect ball across the box where Henderson applied the finish into the empty net. The match seemed to be ebbing away into a hard-fought draw, but deep into stoppage time Henderson bundled home from six yards to send Watford top.
It was rough justice on the Saints who had matched Watford`s aggressive front-line with some stout defending from Thomas and Makin, denying the formidable Marlon King space to manoeuvre. When the Hornets had broken through, Kelvin Davis reacted superbly, making three or four impressive saves, most notably a brave block from Smith before flinging himself to his right to palm away Williamson`s firm strike.
Watford had been fairly comfortable in the opening exchanges, with Stern John and Rasiak failing to combine as Southampton struggled to create chances. The closest they had come to a goal was when Safri`s curling cross deflected off Danny Shittu and against the post. The central defender`s half got better, though, as he rose highest at the back post to head Watford into the lead late on in the half after good work from Tommy Smith. With time running out in the first period Southampton produced some of their best play to create an equaliser; the outstanding Nathan Dyer releasing Rasiak who toe-poked into the bottom corner.
Davis produced smart saves after the break, with Smith and King frustrated, but things got even better for the visitors with only twenty minutes remaining; Nathan Dyer turned into space and curled a wonderful shot past Mart Poom from outside the area. The travelling support were in good voice with the Sky cameras watching but they were silenced by Henderson`s timely double, meaning that it was the Hornets who had the last laugh as they finished the day top of the Championship.
The late collapse meant that Saints dropped from 4th to a disappointing 19th, but there is cause to be optimistic. With a little more luck they would have come away from Vicarage road with a win and St Mary`s could have been flooded with optimism. But as things stand, Southampton need to pick up maximum points from their next two home games against Colchester and Barnsley. This would get the season into gear, but after only five games it is clear that Burley isn`t far from the winning formula. Another defender is a must to bolster the defensive line, but if this is addressed, Southampton certainly have the necessary attacking flair to propel them up the league.
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Date:Sunday September 16 2007
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