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Saturday, 6 April, 2002, 16:40 GMT 17:40 UK
Watford 0-3 Sheff Utd
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Sheffield United heaped misery on Watford boss Gianluca Vialli with a convincing victory at Vicarage Road.

Neil Warnock's side have found their best form too late in the campaign to have any impact on the Nationwide First Division play-offs, but it was the ideal response to the charges dished out by the FA following the infamous "Battle of Bramall Lane".

Quality strikes from Jean-Phillipe Javary, Michael Tonge and Steve Lovell hardly flattered an inspired Blades outfit.

Frenchman Javary fired the visitors into a 13th-minute lead, highly-rated youngster Tonge made it 2-0 three minutes from the break and Lovell applied the perfect finish with a blistering volley just after the hour in this mid-table tussle.

It was the perfect riposte from the Yorkshiremen as Warnock's side hit the headlines again on Friday for all the wrong reasons.

United were cleared by the FA of attempting to force the abandoned match against West Brom on 16 March to be called off prematurely, but the club have still been charged on six counts relating to the match.

Vialli left disappointed at Vicarage Road
But Warnock's players have since thrived in the face of adversity and, after soaking up Watford's early pressure, they drew first blood.

Peter Ndlovu sent over an inch-perfect cross from the right and Javary finished left-footed from close range.

Watford hit back immediately with Patrick Blondeau's stinging 25-yard volley being well held by United keeper Wilko de Vogt before the visitors went close to extending their lead.

The lively Ndlovu had time and space to send in a left-footed curler from the edge of the area that Watford keeper Alec Chamberlain did well to save.

In a see-saw encounter Phil Jagielka went close for the Blades with a trademark effort from the edge of the area, Watford's Danny Webber warmed tested de Vogt from 25 yards and Ndlovu saw another long-range volley flash wide of Chamberlain's post.

The Blades struck again just before half-time when 18-year-old midfielder Tonge latched onto Robert Page's cross, sending his right-foot shot low into the bottom right corner.

Watford boss Gianluca Vialli then cursed his luck again as he was forced to send on Gavin Mahon for Lloyd Doyley, who appeared to have suffered a nasty injury.

In a tactical switch Vialli replaced Gary Fisken and Lee Cook with Heidar Helguson and Anthony McNamee respectively, but it was United who continued to press after the break.

Lovell flashed a volley wide from 18 yards and then Watford roused themselves in a bid to get back into the match.

De Vogt clung on to another 20-yarder from Webber and also Helguson's header from 18 yards, and just after the hour Tommy Smith headed inches over the crossbar.

But the Blades snuffed out any rising hope the Hornets fans had, killing the game in the 63rd minute when Lovell lashed a stunning right-foot volley into the roof of the net from the edge of the penalty area to make it 3-0.

Watford's Neil Cox powered a header from another McNamee corner against the woodwork and both Paul Okon and Webber went close from long range, but this was Warnock's day.


Watford: Chamberlain, Blondeau, Cox, Mahon, Robinson, Fisken, Okon, Hyde, Cook, Smith, Webber. Subs: Baardsen, Helguson, McNamee, Doyley, Hand.

Sheff Utd: de Vogt, Doane, Page, Murphy, Ullathorne, Tonge, Javary, Jagielka, Ndlovu, D'Jaffo, Lovell. Subs: Tracey, Nicholson, Montgomery, Smith, Cryan.

Referee: B Curson (Walsall)

Links to more Eng Div 1 stories are at the foot of the page.

 

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