Wed, Oct 04, 2006 - Page 18 News List

Watford turn three points into just one

NEWBOYS The Hornets looked set to notch their first win and climb out of the relegation zone, but threw away a 2-0 lead to eventually draw 3-3 with Fulham

AFP , WATFORD, ENGLAND

Premiership newboys Watford saw their hopes of a first win of the season slip away on Monday as they threw away a 2-0 lead to draw 3-3 with Fulham.

Marlon King and Ashley Young had given the Hornets a 2-0 lead only for US international Brian McBride and Heidar Helguson -- who used to play for Watford scoring 63 goals in five seasons -- to bring the visitors level.

Fulham actually took the lead five minutes from time through a Damien Francis own goal, but Watford salvaged a point as Young scored his second of the match -- the draw leaves them second from bottom with four points after seven matches.

It left Watford manager Adrian Boothroyd rather deflated.

"We're that keen to get it [a win] that that we get on the back foot rather than on the front foot," he said.

"At 2-0 up, we had a great start to the second half and I would fully expect us to go and win that game comfortably ... But full credit to Fulham for coming back -- and full credit to us for coming back. But I am disappointed," Boothroyd said.

Fulham boss Chris Coleman praised the character his players had shown in fighting back.

"I'm sure both sets of players are disappointed, but our character after the break was great," the Welshman said.

"We clawed our way back into it and for long periods there was only us in it. It's difficult coming here, they play long balls and we did well to stand up to it. I thought we were fantastic and the boys who came on did really well," Coleman added.

Watford took the lead in the 23rd minute as King prodded home past Antii Niemi from close range having been set up by Ashley Young.

Fulham had little to offer in attack and it was no surprise when the hosts doubled their lead through Young, who scored from close range after fine work by Hameur Bouazza.

Almost the first time that Watford's highly-rated 'keeper Ben Foster had to make a save was on the hour mark from Icelandic striker Heidar Helguson, who had only on Monday received a vote of confidence from Coleman.

The lively Bouazza, who had a fierce shot parried by Niemi in the first-half, then went close with a header which drifted past Niemi's post.

However the visitors did at last get themselves on the scoresheet with 20 minutes remaining as McBride shot past Foster having taken the knockdown by Helguson from Wayne Routledge's cross.

Helguson completed their fightback as he headed home eight minutes from time from Tomasz Radzinski's cross.

Three minutes later they were ahead as Francis put into his own net -- trying to clear a Helguson header -- from a corner by French defender Frank Quedrue but Watford had their own reply.

Young was the hero again as his smart volley two minutes from time gave Niemi no chance and allowed the hosts at least to save their honor if not the three points they looked to have earned earlier in the match.

Transfer probe narrowed down

An inquiry into alleged irregular transfer payments in English soccer has been extended by two months, the former top policeman leading it said on Monday as he revealed he was now focusing on 39 deals at eight clubs.

Former Metropolitan Police commissioner Lord John Stevens told a central London news conference that his team had whittled down the number of deals being probed from 362 to 39 at eight clubs.

The seven-month inquiry remained a "work in progress," he said, but pledged the end result would be "thorough, detailed and robust."

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