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Thursday, 13 February, 2003, 00:31 GMT
Watford edge past Norwich
Norwich striker David Nielsen runs clear of the Watford defence
David Neilsen presses with a dangerous run for Norwich
Watford 2-1 Norwich

Heidar Helguson steered Watford back into play-off contention as Norwich's travel sickness continued at Vicarage Road.

The Icelandic midfielder kept a cool head to crash home an injury-time winner that extended Norwich's poor form on the road.

The Canaries have not won away since September but looked to have at least secured a point after Neil Cox's own goal had cancelled out Allan Nielsen's opener on the stroke of half time.

Vicarage Road goals
45 mins: Allan Nielsen drills home the opner in first-half stoppage time
53 mins: Russel's cross is turned into his own net by Neil Cox
90 mins: Heidur Helgusson heads a dramatic late winner

Norwich also saw another disappointing run extended as they have now failed to score a first-half goal in their last 10 attempts.

Nigel Worthington's side had chances to put that record to bed as they started brightly at Vicarage Road.

But the unmarked Mark Rivers headed wide on eight minutes and, seconds later, Watford keeper Alec Chamberlain saved bravely at the feet of Darrel Russell.

Phil Mulryne went even closer when his header from a Russell cross smacked against a post on 42 minutes and David Nielsen then had a goal disallowed after running back from an offside position.

But it was Watford, who had looked lively going forward, that sparked a frustrating game into life two minutes into first-half stoppage time.

Norwich's David Nielsen and Marcus Gayle of Watford clash at Vicarage Road
David Nielsen holds off Watford's Marcus Gayle

Jermaine Pennant ended a dangerous run with an inviting low cross and Micah Hyde touched the ball on for Nielsen to lash home through a crowded goalmouth.

But if Norwich felt hard done by at trailing at the break, they were grateful for a gift of an equaliser just eight minutes into the second half.

Russel again supplied dangerous ammunition from the right and, though both Iwan Roberts and Nielsen missed the cross, the flight of the ball deceived Cox enough to force the Watford captain into a clumsy own goal.

A draw would have been enough to edge Norwich up to fourth place but they looked nervous as they attempted to protect their potential point.

I thought we would go on to win the game

Norwich boss Nigel Worthington

Rivers was fortunate to escape conceding a penalty when he appeared to handle Nielsen's cross midway through the second half.

And goalkeeper Robert Green stood his ground to save Helguson's low shot after Norwich's tightly-packed defence had yawned wide open.

But the home side continued to press hard for a winner in the closing stages, with Helguson and substitute Tommy Smith both going close.

And the cavalry charge finally paid dividends in stoppage time as Helgusson, who had just received treatment for a head injury, headed home his ninth goal of the season from substitute McNamee's corner.


Watford: Chamberlain, Ardley, Cox, Gayle, Robinson, Pennant, Vernazza, Hyde, Nielsen, Noel-Williams, Helguson. Subs: Tommy Smith, Brown, Mahon, McNamee, Lee.

Norwich: Green, Kenton, Mackay, Fleming, Russell, Drury, Rivers, Holt, Nielsen, Mulryne, Roberts. Subs: Abbey, Llewellyn, Briggs, Henderson, Crichton.

Referee: A Wiley (Staffordshire)

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Watford boss Ray Lewington
"We competed from the first minute to the last"

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