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The BBC's Alan Biggs
"It was the Watford fans who brought the samba style off the pitch"
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Saturday, 6 May, 2000, 16:53 GMT 17:53 UK
Brave Hornets fight on
Stockdale's goal provided the only action of the first-half
Middlesbrough 1-1 Watford

Watford fought back bravely to claim a share of the points against Middlesbrough on Saturday.

Despite already being relegated, a spirited display earned them a richly-deserved draw at the Riverside Stadium.

. Outplayed and out-hustled by mid-table Middlesbrough in the first half, Graham Taylor's rock-bottom bravehearts stormed out in the second period and will be disappointed not to have won.

Roared on by their noisy and colourful followers, they should have won it in the last 10 minutes when first Hreidar Helguson's shot clattered against Mark Schwarzer's legs and seconds later Tommy Smith was inches away from the winner.

Middlesbrough, also had their fair share of chances, however.

In the first 10 minutes of the second half, Argentinian teenager Carlos Marinelli brought two brilliant saves out of visiting keeper Chris Day, Hamilton Ricard shot wide when it seemed easier to score having skated through the Watford defence, and Juninho fired over from eight yards.

Still, their most golden chance to salvage a win came with five minutes to go when Marinelli's shot from the corner of the six-yard box beat Day but hit the post and Steve Palmer cleared off the line.

Micah Hyde, too, could have won it for Watford after a mistake by Schwarzer. It was all a far cry from a tepid first half which was lit only by a 27th-minute goal by Stockdale - his first for the club.

The 20-year old pounced on a woeful David Perpetuini back pass and squeezed his shot under Schwarzer.

Watford 'demoralised'

Then Watford looked demoralised, giving away too many free-kicks in dangerous positions and keeping Boro at bay only thanks to a sterling performance at the back from their captain Robert Page.

Juninho, who could have been playing his last home game for Boro, fired over early from a 25-yard free-kick and Robbie Mustoe brought a top-notch save out of Day just two minutes after Stockdale had found the net.

Their fans' frustration spilled onto the pitch with Ricard booked for dissent and Watford should have taken full advantage with their stirring second-half display.

Boro, too, pressed in injury time as the game swung from end to end, with teenager Marinelli - on at half time for another young striker, Andy Campbell - posing problems with his pace.

But a defeat would have been little short of a travesty for Taylor's men, who have performed so bravely and brightly in the face of adversity all season long.


Middlesbrough: Schwarzer, Stockdale, Festa, Vickers, Cooper, Fleming, Mustoe, Ince, Juninho, Ricard, Campbell. Subs: Beresford, Maddison, Gavin, Marinelli, Kilgannon.

Watford: Day, Page, Ward, Robinson, Cox, Palmer, Hyde, Perpetuini, Helguson, Smith, Foley. Subs: Chamberlain, Mooney, Wooter, Gibbs, Bonnot.

Referee: P Jones (Loughborough)

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