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Watford Preview

By: Stephen Bateman
Date: 02/11/2000

Town fans get the chance to assess just how far their team has progressed when they face league leaders Watford at Vicarage Road on Saturday. Watford, who are unbeaten in the league this season, will go into the game as favourites, yet all may not be quite as it seems.


The Hornets are aiming to bounce straight back into the Premier League after last years relegation. Their impressive start to the season has seen them supplant Fulham at the top of the division and manager Graham Taylor is confident that Watford can make the grade once again this season without spending enormous amounts of money. Graham Taylor
Taylor: Confident

Taylor's men had the opportunity to test their resolve on Tuesday night when they faced Manchester United in the Worthington Cup. In spite of United putting out a side that was well below strength, Watford were outclassed by a team that passed them out of the game. Influential midfielder Micah Hyde, Watford's top scorer with six league goals this season was absent for that game, although it is hoped that he will return for Saturday's clash with the Mariners.

Watford's England under-21 left-back Paul Robinson was forced off injured and is rated doubtful for Saturday. Meanwhile, former Scunthorpe United defender Neil Cox looks to be establishing a regular place in the Hornet's starting line-up.

Watford (from): Chamberlain, Cox, Robinson, Gibbs, Page, Palmer, Ward, Nielsen, Hyde, Helguson, Wooter, Smith, Mooney, Noel-Williams, Day, Foley.

Grimsby Town

Lennie Lawrence's Blundell Park revolution is now firmly under way. It can be assumed that Lawrence came a very close second when October's Manager Of The Month was announced as being Saturday's counterpart Graham Taylor. The shrewd Grimsby manager will no doubt be relishing the opportunity of, to borrow Lennie's famous colloquial phrasing, 'putting one over' on the former England boss.

What can be stated with certainty is that Lawrence's tactical nous will be tested to the extreme. It remains to be seen whether or not Grimsby will go into the game with three strikers once again, although it would seem unlikely that Lawrence sees this game in the same light as the Mariners last away trip to Selhurst Park.

That game saw the first away win of the season for Grimsby with the in-form Bradley Allen securing the points. Should Lawrence choose to play with just two strikers on Saturday he will be faced with the problem of whether or not he ommits the impressive Allen, leading scorer Steve Livingstone, or fans favourite David Nielsen.

Danny Coyne
Coyne: In-Form
Mariners goalkeeper Danny Coyne will be looking to continue his outstanding form and will attempt to keep a third consecutive clean sheet on Saturday afternoon.

Kevin Donovan is expected to replace the injured Danny Butterfield on the right side of Grimsby's midfield and he will be looking to show the same kind of form that he demonstrated in the 2-0 win against West Brom on Sunday.

Former trialist Neil Murray has now signed for the club and will be travelling with the squad to Watford. The Scot will probably start the game on the bench.

Grimsby Town (from): Coyne, McDermott, Butterfield, Raven, Handyside, Groves, Gallimore, Donovan, Coldicott, Campbell, D Smith, Allen, Livingstone, Nielsen, Croudson, Clare, Jeffrey, Burnett, Murray.


If this fixture had been played a month ago, Mariners fans would have had little expectation of their side coming away from Vicarage Road anything other than empty handed. However, recent results have shown that the black-and-white's have little to fear against any team in this division. Over the last five games Grimsby have actually amassed more points than Watford and their confidence will be at a peak as they go into this game.

Although there is no disgrace in losing to Manchester United reserves, Watford will be a little shaken by the way that they were swept aside on Tuesday night. The Hornet's goal-less draw at home to Gillingham also demonstrates the fact that the Mariners are quite capable of coming away from Vicarage Road with a positive result.

Grimsby's Kevin Donovan may well hold the key to this game. Man United starlet Luke Chadwick wreaked havoc down Watford's left flank during the mid-week game and the injury to left-sided full-back Robinson should provide Donovan with the incentive to shine once again.

Grimsby's main area of concern must be in defending set-pieces. Graham Taylor is renowned for honing dead-ball skills and the Mariners have been afflicted by an inability to defend such situations on several occasions. Makeshift central defender Paul Groves may well be the weak-link in the current Grimsby side and it would be no surprise if manager Lennie Lawrence draughts Paul Raven into the side in order to address this problem.

For the first time since laces were removed from footballs, Grimsby will score from a corner.

Watford 2-2 Grimsby.


Our counterparts at the Watford Rivals site have provided a guide to pubs and restaurants in the vacinity of Vicarage Road which can be found here

Real Audio

Commentary of the game for those unable to go can be found here

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