We rolled our sleeves up and dug in

Last updated : 07 February 2002 By Tony Scholes

Incredibly not everyone thought we should have won but to be honest it is difficult to believe that anyone could see the result as anything but just.

However one of the division's most inept of managers Gianluca Vialli (oh how the Watford fans must have hoped that Graham Taylor would come out of retirement and return to Vicarage Road) didn't seem to see what was there in front of his eyes.

"That match sums up our season, we feel we are not getting what we deserve. It is a missed opportunity for another three points. We have got to get our confidence back and keep believing that the play-offs are still a possibility.

"Unfortunately we didn't take the chance to kill them off. I brought David Noble on with ten minutes to go because I knew a draw was not good enough. That made us vulnerable and left our defenders a bit uncovered.

"Jermaine Pennant and Lee Cook had excellent games, Cook was a real threat down the left flank. But we are still struggling with injuries and suspensions. We need the fans to support us and not get on a player's back because he misses a penalty."

Pennant was excellent was he? He started well and scored a good goal but that was about it from him and he was well shackled once we had moved Lee Briscoe to full back. Pennant is clearly not the brightest either when it comes to summing up a game. In an incredible after match interview he somehow thought that Watford were the better side, maybe he had been concussed.

Pennant said, "We should have won. We deserved much more than to lose 2-1, we should have won at least 3-0. I think if we'd scored the penalty the game would have been all over. But we missed it and showed them hope and they managed to get back into it. They fought hard at the end, I think some of our players were a bit tired. The result was a poor result, everybody's gutted."

"I was pleased to get my first goal in just my second game at home. I think my performance was strong and I gave more of a contribution to the game. My runs came out with end products - goals, crosses - so I'm just pleased with the performance but disappointed with the result. It's my first senior goal. I didn't really see it go in as I was on the floor. I'm actually right-footed so it's also nice to get my first goal with my left foot and hopefully they'll be many more with Watford and Arsenal. Hopefully on Sunday I'll get another one.

"It was a great performance by Lee Cook, he's a great player. It gives you a little breather and it works if you can switch it from one side to the other." We've just got to take this result on the chin and keep our heads up for the next game. Hopefully in our next game on Sunday we can get behind the gaffer, because he's had a hard time, he's been putting a lot in it, so hopefully on Sunday we'll get a victory."

And Lee Cook added, "The boys are gutted really. We felt we deserved the three points, and when they got that goal in the last minute we were devastated. From the team's point of view every player is gutted that we didn't get the three points."

Surely somebody must have seen it as it really happened and Stan thought we were well worth the three points although even he thought we weren't good enough in the first half.

"I thought we played extremely well in the second half because I felt in the first half we weren't at it. That is understandable with the run we have been on but we had a few words at half time and they did themselves and the club proud after that.

"We are now back in a top six position, we have won and that will build confidence. It was a big result and a big second half performance. We have had some setbacks but when all our players are fit we will be okay."

"There will be downs as well as ups but we rolled our sleeves up and dug in. It is never easy when you are on a bad run but after the second half display I felt we deserved the result.

"It was important to play well because we have a responsibility to the travelling supporters. We had a good following tonight, they were fantastic, they were behind us."

"Robbie Blake is still striving for fitness but he has had a good hour today and that will only do him good. In the second half some of our forward play was very good when we got to grips with the game.

"I left Ian Cox out and he came on and scored so maybe I got it right. And Brad Maylett showed terrific pace and produced a cross that got the deflection for the goal. It was great to see us break forward in the last minute and both Weller and Briscoe were up there in the six yard box, all credit to them."

Weller winner the bitterest pill for Watford

Paul Weaver at Vicarage Road (Guardian)

Watford's manager Gianluca Vialli called on his team to win this game, and a second home fixture against Grimsby on Sunday, to haul themselves back into the promotion frame. But the plea fell on deaf ears here last night, and Marcus Gayle's listening equipment must be of the cloth variety.

The former Rangers striker missed a penalty halfway through the second half which would have put his side 2-0 up. Then, in the 89th minute, he missed a straightforward header from Stephen Glass's corner which surely would have been the winner.

Instead, in the second minute of injury-time, Burnley's Paul Weller headed the decisive goal which lifted the club above Norwich and Crystal Palace and into fifth place in the First Division. Watford, booed off at the end by their fans, need a telescope to sight the leaders.

The Burnley manager Stan Ternent was not exaggerating when he said: "We deserved to win because of our second-half performance. I thought we played extremely well after the interval."

But a glum-looking Vialli said: "Everyone is gutted. Very disappointed. The play-off position is not looking good. We're not getting what we deserve. But we need a run of victories now."

Watford took the lead in the 23rd minute when Micah Hyde split the Burnley defence with a precise through-ball to Jermaine Pennant. Pennant, on loan from Arsenal, scored his first goal for the club with a curling shot just inside the left post.

Encouraged by this, the winger went close to scoring a second five minutes later when his drive from the edge of the area was saved by Marlon Beresford at full stretch.

This - and more Watford chances - was the pattern of the first half. But in the second Burnley began to offer a more real threat.

Watford, though, should have put the match beyond reasonable doubt when Ian Cox was penalised for grappling with Gifton Noel-Williams in the 67th minute. However, Gayle's gentle kick was saved with some ease by Beresford.

Burnley must have sensed this would be their night. Five minutes later Cox atoned for his mistake when he equalised after Lee Briscoe's rasping free-kick was only half stopped. Then the winner came when Brad Maylett surged down the right. His cross was almost deflected in by Wayne Brown before Weller stooped to nod home.

"I made changes that made us more vulnerable at the back," said a resigned looking Vialli. "I took a chance. But a draw was no good for us. We need to win games at this stage."

Beresford penalty save hurts Watford

By Mike Berry (Daily Telegraph)

BURNLEY, having plummeted from top spot to outside the play-off places in little more than a month, checked their decline with an injury-time victory at Vicarage Road last night.

Stan Ternent's men, whose 1-0 home win over Watford on Nov 13 launched a run of six straight victories that opened up a seven-point lead at the summit, came from behind to clinch their first win in six League games when Paul Weller headed in substitute Brad Maylett's deflected cross.

Gianluca Vialli, the Watford manager, described a week of two home games for his flagging side as make-or-break towards their promotion hopes, and they quickly signalled their intentions when Marcus Gayle's early long-ranger just cleared the Burnley crossbar.

Burnley, themselves facing a crucial time, responded well, but it was Watford who gained the initiative with a cleverly fashioned goal from their Arsenal loanee Jermaine Pennant on 23 minutes.

The finish matched the approached as Micah Hyde dissected the Burnley defence down the Watford right, and it left Pennant, Arsenal's teenage signing from Notts County, to cut inside two pursuers and arrow a left-foot drive beyond Marlon Beresford.

Minutes later Pennant, making only his fifth appearance for Watford, had Beresford at full stretch as he threatened down the middle, and Gayle then knocked back what appeared to be an inviting header on the far post.

Watford's aerial approach continued to have Burnley in trouble and two minutes from half-time Pennant's deep cross was headed over on the stretch by Gifton Noel-Williams.

Pennant, never far away from the action, had a low shot hacked away from inside the six-yard box as Watford maintained a lively tempo at the start of the second half.

They should have doubled their lead on 66 minutes when Arthur Gnohere needlessly manhandled Noel-Williams inside the box to concede a penalty. But Beresford guessed correctly to smother Gayle's low spot kick close to his left-hand post.

Six minutes later Burnley were level through substitute Ian Cox. Chamberlain reacted brilliantly to touch Lee Briscoe's free-kick on to a post, but Cox's reactions were even better as he rammed home the loose ball.

Burnley were now in the driving seat, and Glen Little, released by Blake, shot wide when one-on-one against Chamberlain.

The game had moved into injury time when Maylett's attack down the right ended with his cross deflecting over Chamberlain off a Watford tackle. It left Weller with the simplest of point-blank headers.

Wasteful Watford made to pay high price

By Russell Kempson (The Times)

GIANLUCA VIALLI'S desire to return to management in the top flight suffered another jolt at Vicarage Road last night when his Watford side threw away the chance of a much-needed victory. Twelve points adrift of a play-off place in the Nationwide League first division, their hopes of promotion appear slim at best.

Watford had not won in their previous six matches but had edged ahead of Burnley owing to a mixture of hard work and positive thinking. Vialli's shaven head in the glare of the floodlights might have been the only thing to sparkle in a wretched first half, but his players had shone in patches and it should have proved enough.

How wrong the neutrals and home fans were, the latter's cheers having turned to jeers by the end of the most calamitous of second halves. Marcus Gayle missed a penalty, Ian Cox equalised, Gayle missed a sitter and then Paul Weller nodded in the winner from one yard in the second minute of stoppage time. It was gruesome to watch.

"The play-offs are still a possibility, even if it does not look good," Vialli said. "I won't give up and I hope that my players don't, either. We just need to stretch a run of wins together. We're not getting what we should at the moment and maybe Lady Luck could help us a bit as well."

Jermaine Pennant enlivened an otherwise dour first period with the opening goal in the 24th minute. Micah Hyde sent him on his way and Pennant, on loan from Arsenal, curled a delightful left-foot shot beyond Marlon Beresford.

Gayle squandered the spot kick, after Cox had wrestled over Gifton Noel-Williams, with a firmly struck yet poorly directed effort that Beresford saved comfortably. Cox indulged in more legal activities at the other end, touching in the rebound after Lee Briscoe's fierce free kick had been tipped on to the crossbar by Alec Chamberlain, and Gayle then missed the sitter, a close-range header at the far post from Stephen Glass's corner.

A draw is no good to Watford — "we need wins, a lot of them", Vialli said — and in trying to reclaim the lead, they left themselves exposed at the back. Brad Maylett's cross deflected off Ramon Vega into the air and Paul Weller got Burnley out of a jam. A cue for a song, perhaps?

Watford bow to Weller's late strike

By Conrad Leach (Independent)

Burnley completed an impresssive comeback, sealing their first league victory in six games with only seconds remaining of this First Division game. With the match deep in injury time, the Burnley defender Lee Briscoe crossed from the byline and with the help of a deflection the ball bounced across the goal line to leave Paul Weller with the simplest of finishes.

However, Burnley's third league goal of the year would have counted for little if Watford had converted a penalty after 66 minutes, given after Arthur Gnohéré had felled Gifton Noel-Williams. Marcus Gayle stepped up it but underhit his kick and Marlon Beresford got down well to his left.

Six minutes later and Ian Cox, who had only been on the pitch for 10 minutes, pulled Burnley level. A Briscoe free-kick rebounded off a post and the defender was there to ram home from short range.

Jermaine Pennant had scored his first goal since joining the Hornets on loan from Arsenal to give his side the lead at the interval. The midfielder latched on to a perfectly weighted pass inside the Burnley left-back Graham Branch and moved the ball on to his left foot to unleash a curling shot inside Beresford's right-hand post.

That gave Watford a timely boost as until then it had been the visitors, who, with more of the possession, had appeared more likely to score, especially given the return of one of their leading scorers, Glen Little, from injury. But Little looked rusty after his recent absence, lending the Burnley team a goal-shy look. Since topping the First Division at Christmas, the Clarets have been on an alarming slide, dropping to outside the play-off zone.

After conceding that early effort, the Burnley manager Stan Ternent wasted little time in trying to give his side more of an attacking edge, replacing Branch with Robbie Blake.

Ternent rang the changes before kick-off as well, dropping the captain Cox to the bench, not that Noel-Williams minded who marked him as he hit a ferocious 20-yard shot that dipped over Beresford's bar after only four minutes.

Although Pennant's goal had put Watford in front, it was Lee Cook, his team-mate on the opposite flank, who caught the eye. The teenager, just back from a knee injury, showed the flair and verve to worry the Clarets' defence, reminding them they were ready to be picked apart by a pair of 19-year-olds.

The Watford manager, Gianluca Vialli, who because of a minor injury crisis in midfield partly had his hand forced, still chose Cook ahead of the more experienced Stephen Glass in that position.