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Watford 3-3 Fulham - Cottagers fightback

last updated Monday 02nd October 2006, 11:01 PM

Watford lost their nerve in the final 20 minutes to throw away what should have been a comfortable victory against Fulham as they drew 3-3 at Vicarage Road.

Brian McBride
Brian McBride started
Fulham fightback

Goals from Marlon King and Ashley Young had Watford cruising to their first Barclays Premiership win of the season, but they could not hang on and allowed Fulham to score three goals in 15 minutes through substitute Brian McBride, Heidar Helguson and a bizarre own-goal from Damien Francis.

Young's second goal in the 89th minute meant Watford rescued a point, but manager Adrian Boothroyd will have been concerned by the lack of steel his team showed late on.

Fulham recalled former Watford favourite Helguson to their starting XI for Monday night's clash, while the home side were unchanged.

Watford came close to taking the lead with the first cohesive move of the match in the 13th minute.

Young released Tommy Smith on the right, and when the winger's cross was touched back to the edge of the penalty area by Francis, Hameur Bouazza struck a left-foot shot that Antti Niemi could only parry before Ian Pearce touched the ball behind for a corner.

But Fulham should have gone in front in the 17th minute when Papa Bouba Diop sent Moritz Volz clear down the left.

Hornets goalkeeper Ben Foster slipped as he came out to close the angle, but Volz could not take advantage and shot wide of the left post.

King then shook off Pearce and sent a fierce low shot just wide of Niemi's right post.

In the 23rd minute, King gave Watford the lead by beating the offside trap before controlling Young's brilliant lofted past and steering the ball beyond Niemi from eight yards.

Watford tried to make the most of the psychological lift the goal had given them, and they went close twice more shortly afterwards.


First Gavin Mahon hit a dipping effort from 25 yards that dropped just over the bar following King's quick free-kick, and in the 28th minute Bouazza tricked his way across the edge of the penalty area and unleashed an angled effort that slid just wide of the left post.

Before that, Boothroyd had delighted the home fans with an exaggerated celebration after referee Mike Riley had given his team a free-kick inside their own half.

But Fulham showed they could still be a threat in the 30th minute, when they came desperately close to equalising.

Mahon was booked for a foul on Volz 30 yards from goal, and Franck Queudrue's curling free-kick missed Foster's right post by a tiny margin.

Match Stats Watford Fulham
Goals 3 3
Possession 49% 51%
Goal attempts 9 10
On Target 4 3
Corners 3 2
Off-sides 6 10
Fouls 24 12
Yellows 1 3
Reds 0 0
source: Soccernet

Fulham boss Chris Coleman sent his team out early for the second half - but it did not have the desired effect as Watford doubled their advantage 15 seconds after the re-start.

Mahon collected King's lay-off before slipping the ball wide to Bouazza, who had escaped the attentions of Liam Rosenior.

The Frenchman's low left-wing cross was perfectly weighted for Young to slide in at the far post and supply the finishing touch.

In the 59th minute, Coleman sent on McBride for the ineffective Collins John - and the decision almost paid instant dividends.

The veteran American's clever reverse pass found Helguson, whose powerfully-struck shot was too close to Foster, and the on-loan Manchester United goalkeeper was able to make a smart save.

Fulham had the ball in the net when Queudrue's long throw-in bounced through the penalty area and beyond Foster but, even if the ball had touched a player, the goal would have been ruled out for a foul by McBride on the home keeper.

Fulham looked to be beaten, but they suddenly found a way back into the match in the 71st minute.

Malky Mackay could only head Routledge's right-wing cross directly above himself, and when the ball dropped McBride reacted the quickest and volleyed crisply beyond Foster from 10 yards.

Watford were dropping far too deep - and they were punished when Helguson equalised against his former club.

Niemi's long free-kick was nodded on by Diop for Tomasz Radzinski, who hooked the ball back across goal for the unmarked Helguson to head in from three yards.

Fulham then seized the lead in bizarre fashion when Mackay and substitute Matthew Spring failed to clear a high ball, and Francis then did the unthinkable by thrashing the ball into his own net.

But Watford were not finished and Young grabbed his second of the game with a fine volley from 15 yards after more uncertain defending.

Foster, DeMerit, Shittu, Mackay, Stewart, Young,Mahon, Francis (Henderson 89), Bouazza, King, Smith (Spring 76).
Subs Not Used: Lee, Doyley, Jarrett.

Booked: Mahon.

Goals: King 23, Young 46, 89.

Niemi, Rosenior, Knight, Pearce, Queudrue,Volz (Radzinski 62), Diop, Brown, Bocanegra (Routledge 53),Helguson, John (McBride 59).
Subs Not Used: Lastuvka, Claus Jensen.

Booked: Helguson (51, f), Pearce (66, ub), Radzinski (73, d)

McBride 71 (Cross by Wayne Routledge, goal by Brian McBride right-footed, into bottom-left of goal from centre of penalty area 12 yards out).
Assist (header) by Heidar Helguson from centre of penalty area.),

Helguson 83 (Headed goal by Heidar Helguson in high centre of goal from right side of six-yard box (6 yards).
Assist (cross) by Tomasz Radzinski from left side of penalty area.),

Francis 87 og (Own goal by Damien Francis right-footed into bottom-left of goal from own half, 6 yards out.
Assist (header) by Heidar Helguson from centre of penalty area.).

Att: 17,982

Ref: M Riley (W Yorkshire).

Source Soccernet
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