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The BBC's Steve Wilson
"A point gained by Derby, but it should have been three"
 real 28k

Saturday, 8 April, 2000, 16:12 GMT 17:12 UK
Rams limp towards safety

Watford's Neil Cox and Jacob Laursen of Derby
Watford 0-0 Derby

Derby missed a penalty but the result still leaves them a point closer to Premiership survival, and one place higher than they were before the kick-off.

Watford must have dismissed all realistic hopes of staying in the top flight some time ago.

But the Rams look set to escape thanks mainly to the failings of others, with Bradford and Wimbledon both losing while Derby struggled at Vicarage Road.

Bradford are now six points adrift of the Rams, while the Dons dropped below them due to this result.
Key moments
Poor first period sees ball in crowd more often than danger area
66: Helguson comes on and hits the woodwork
71: Schnoor misses penalty
The crucial moment of this match came when Stefan Schnoor missed from the spot 19 minutes from the end.

His kick was saved by Alec Chamberlain after Darryl Powell had been brought down just inside the area.

Aftewards Derby boss Jim Smith revealed that there had been a mix-up about who took the kick.

"It was a poor penalty and it summed up the game," he admitted.

"It was our first of the season and we weren't sure who was taking it.

"Branko Strupar should've taken it and I haven't seen him miss. I told him he was on penalties as he was going out but there was a misunderstanding.

The level of the game was poor but we've gained four points on Bradford and Wimbledon this week and that's obviously important

Jim Smith
"Branko is such a nice man that when he saw Craig Burley and Stefan Schnoor fighting over it, he said Stefan could have it."

The kick was a rare moment of excitement in a game which saw two struggling sides show just why they have had problems this season.

Watford boss Graham Taylor handed defender Darren Ward his first Premiership start, but Derby's Jim Smith named the same side that beat Leicester 3-0 last weekend.

There were early chances for both sides, with Branko Strupar firing over for the visitors and Watford's in-form striker Allan Smart shooting wide.

But in general the first-half was forgettable, and the second not much better until the 66th-minute introduction of Watford's Icelandic striker Heidar Helguson.

There are one or two ways of going down. We can go down short on spirit and low on morale or we can show that we care about the support that we have out there

Graham Taylor
Smart made way for the big Scandinavian, who hit the post with virtually his first touch, rising high in the penalty area to get a head to Micah Hyde's deep free-kick.

Robert Page then abruptly halted the charge of Powell with a mistimed tackle on the edge of the Watford penalty area, but Chamberlain saved low to his left from Schnoor.

Three points would have taken Derby eight points clear, and Powell diverted a cross from sub Malcolm Christie wide before the end.

Strupar was also a foot too high with a spectacular bicycle kick.

It was another rare moment of excitement on a drab day.


Watford: Chamberlain, Page, Palmer, Ward, Cox, Hyde, R. Johnson, Easton, Perpetuini, Smart, Smith. Subs: Day, Gibbs, Gudmundsson, Bonnot, Helguson.

Derby: Poom, Laursen, Carbonari, Schnoor, Delap, Burley, Powell, Kinkladze, Johnson, Sturridge, Strupar. Subs: Oakes, Dorigo, Christie, Elliott, Murray.

Referee: S Bennett (Orpington)

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Links to other FA Carling Premiership stories are at the foot of the page.