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The BBC's Steve Wilson
"The entertainment was of the non-stop variety"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 28 December, 1999, 17:28 GMT
Hornets triumph in rollercoaster clash

Xavier Gravelaine Two goals from Xavier Gravelaine sealed the win


Watford 3-2 Southampton

Watford secured their first win in 15 matches in a thrilling clash against Southampton at Vicarage Road.

Watford, who had not won since beating Chelsea on September 18, started superbly.


Match facts
17 mins: David Perpetuini grabs the opener
31 mins: Xavier Gravelaine adds a second
61 mins: Luis Boa Morte pulls one back
63 mins: Kevin Davies equalises
65 mins: Xavier Gravelaine grabs the win with his second
David Perpetuini and Xavier Gravelaine put the home side 2-0 up in the opening period as the Hornets looked to be sailing towards victory.

But Southampton struck back with two goals in three minutes from Luis Boa Morte and Kevin Davies, before Gravelaine sealed the win in the 65th minute.

Alec Chamberlain had produced two top class saves in the fifth minute to stop struggling Watford slipping behind.

First Kevin Davies, who scored his first goal since returning to Saints from Blackburn on Boxing Day, rose well to power a header at goal from a Francis Benali cross in the fifth minute.


Davies Kevin Davies grabbed the equaliser
Chamberlain reacted sharply to turn it over the bar and was in action seconds later, saving as Dean Richards latched onto the corner from Matt Le Tissier.

Perpetuini struck in the 18th minute, however, to give the Hornets a scent of their first victory since mid-September.

Neil Cox's right-wing cross fell kindly for the young midfielder as Southampton tried to clear and he smashed it crisply past Paul Jones and into the net.

Mark Hughes clipped the bar with a back-post header two minutes later but Watford were able to extend their lead after a sweeping move in the 32nd minute.

Michel Ngonge and Micah Hyde linked up in midfield and Hyde threaded a pass through the Saints back-four into the path of Gravelaine.

The Frenchman, back after a three-match ban, picked it up and checked inside two Saints defender before unleashing a fierce shot to bring his first goal since moving from Paris St Germain last month.

Saints fight back

Saints pressed forward after the restart but the best chances continued to fall to the home side on the counter-attack.

Ngonge met a Perpetuini cross early in the second half, but his back-post header cannoned wide off Richards.

It was the visitors who found the net, however, to wipe out the Hornets' lead with two goals in as many minutes.

Davies caused the problems on the Saints right. He battled beyond Robert Page and dragged a low cross into the goalmouth. The ball evaded Hughes but rolled on to Luis Boa Morte and he struck a blistering shot into the top corner from 15 yards.

Boa Morte's goal came in the 61st minute and one minute later Davies had walloped home the equaliser.

In a rollercoaster game, Gravelaine pounced for his second in the 66th minute.

Saints could only clear a right-wing cross as far as the Frenchman on the edge of the penalty area.

He did not seem to connect cleanly with his volley but it found its way past Jones.

The Watford fans can breathe a sigh of relief at last.

Teams:

Watford: Chamberlain, Cox, Palmer, Page, Robinson, Gudmundsson, Hyde, Johnson, Perpetuini, Ngonge, Gravelaine. Subs: Day, Gibbs, Smith, Foley, Miller.

Southampton: Jones, Tessem, Lundekvam, Richards, Benali, Boa Morte, Soltvedt, Hughes, Dodd, Davies, Le Tissier. Subs: Moss, Ripley, Beattie, Bridge, Kachloul.

Referee: M Riley (Leeds)

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