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BBC Five Live's Simon Hill
reports from Vicarage Road
 real 14k

Graham Taylor, Watford manager
"A very good result for us"
 real 14k

Trevor Francis, Birmingham manager
"We had enough possession to have got more out of the game"
 real 14k

Sunday, 1 October, 2000, 16:20 GMT 17:20 UK
Watford 2-0 Birmingham
Heidar Helguson battles for possession with Birmingham's Danny Sonner
Watford maintained the pressure on leaders Fulham by comfortably beating Birmingham at Vicarage Road.

Midfielder Alan Nielsen and defender Neil Cox scored the second-half goals that moved Watford to within two points of the West London side at the top of the table.

The Hornets were actually disappointed not to win by a wider margin, as Helguson had a seemingly good goal disallowed.

Birmingham were the better side in the first half and competed well throughout, but lacked creativity and sharpness up front.

Space was at a premium before the interval and there were few chances.

Wooter was lively for Watford, and after 14 minutes he put in a good cross from the right that Noel-Williams disappointingly hit over.

Opportunistic goal

The tall striker missed another good chance minutes later when he shot high over the crossbar from inside the box.

Birmingham were creating chances of their own. Hughes cleverly improvised a back-heel shot following a niucely worked free kick, that went marginally wide.

Gifton Noel-Williams tangles with David Holdsworth
And near half-time Lazaridis made a strong run and squared the ball into the area, but Mark Burchill, Birmingham's loan signing from Celtic, was beaten to the ball by a Watford defender.

With so few chances in the game, it was always going to be the sharper team in front of goal that prevailed, and so it proved.

After 58 minutes Watford's Nielsen showed good instinct inside the six-yard box to misdirect a shot from Helguson into the goal.

Moments after the restart Lazaridis surged into the Watford area and went down under a challenge from Cox, but the referee refused the Australian's penalty appeals.

With only a quarter of an hour to go Watford doubled their advantage. Wooter, who was a threat throughout, sent in a brilliant cross after a surging run down the right wing and Cox headed into an unguarded net.

Watford: Chamberlain, Cox, Robinson, Page, Palmer, Mooney, Wooter, Noel-Williams, Helguson, Ward, Nielsen.
Subs: Ngonge, Day, Gibbs, Easton, Foley.

Birmingham: Bennett, Eaden, Grainger, Holdsworth, Horsfield, Hughes, Lazaridis, Gill, M. Johnson, Burchill, Sonner.
Subs: Marcelo, Poole, Robinson, A. Johnson, Ndlovu.

Referee: S Baines (Chesterfield).

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