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Sunday, 10 February, 2002, 16:11 GMT
Watford 2-0 Grimsby
Gifton Noel-Williams
Noel-Williams scored Watford's bizarre second
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A controversial goal and a double sending off marred Watford's win against relegation-threatened Grimsby at Vicarage Road.

Paul Robinson had given the dominant home side a deserved lead after 35 minutes but Watford's second arrived in bizarre fashion.

Almost immediately into the second-half, the offside rule regarding whether or not a player is interfering with play worked in favour of Gianluca Vialli's side.

  Key incidents
27 mins: Robert Taylor forced off for Grimsby
35: Robinson converts Cook's corner and Watford lead
45: Grimsby are agonisingly denied the chance of an equaliser
46: Noel-Williams scores Watford's controversial second
51: Pennant and Gallimore sent-off

Striker Gifton Noel-Williams was allowed to run clear and fire home after the Grimsby defence had stopped playing believing off-side had been given.

The referee's assistant had raised his flag but the referee had not blown his whistle to stop play and the goal stood.

In the aftermath, Jermaine Pennant, on loan from Arsenal to Watford, and Tony Gallimore clashed and were red carded.

The home side had chances to extend their lead as they continued to dominate against a battling Grimsby.

Missed chances

But the controversial incidents and result only increased Grimsby's woes as they remain second-from-bottom of the First Division.

A taster of their afternoon came when Robert Taylor was forced off injured after 27 minutes.

Grimsby's misery was only compounded in first-half injury-time after Robinson had powered in Lee Cook's corner.

Watford boss Gianluca Vialli and his assistant Ray Wilkins
Vialli and Wilkins watch Watford win

Stuart Campbell's pull back seemed set to reach at least one of his three Grimsby team-mates waiting in six-yard box.

But keeper Alec Chamberlain's touch saw the ball evade the visitors' trio as they searched for a confidence-boosting equaliser.

Watford continued to dominate when 10 against 10, but Vialli's side lacked the prowess their manager showed in front of goal during his playing career.

Noel-Williams and Tommy Smith were guilty of missing the home side's best chances, but Watford eased to a win which improves their play-off challenge.

Watford: Chamberlain, Blondeau, Galli, Brown, Robinson, Pennant, Okon, Hyde, Cook, Gayle, Noel-Williams. Subs: Baardsen, Nielsen, Glass, McNamee, Smith.

Grimsby: Coyne, McDermott, Groves, Raven, Gallimore, Pouton, Willems, Burnett, Campbell, Taylor, Boulding. Subs: David Smith, Butterfield, Croudson, Allen, Jevons.

Referee: M Brandwood (Lichfield).

BBC Sport's Andy Barwell
"Watford got their first win of the year"
Links to more Eng Div 1 stories are at the foot of the page.


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