Watford survived the first-half dismissal of goalkeeper Alec Chamberlain to
claim an unlikely but deserved victory over Crewe.
Chamberlain was sent off with just 19 minutes gone after handling the ball
outside his area, and Ray Lewington was forced to throw young Chelsea goalkeeper
Lenny Pidgeley into the fray.
But the 19-year-old - on a month's loan at Vicarage Road - responded
immediately with a brilliant save from Steve Foster, and fellow loanee Danny
Webber pounced on a mistake by David Vaughan after half-time to give Watford
their second win of the season.
Watford suffered a serious setback with the dismissal of Chamberlain.
The veteran goalkeeper ran out of his box to clear the ball but was struck on
the hand, and the referee consulted his linesman before showing Chamberlain a
The sending off forced Lewington to replace striker Bruce Dyer with Pidgeley, and Neil Sorvel steered a shot wide from a good position as Crewe pressed
Watford could have snatched the lead on the stroke of half-time when
Webber headed Paul Robinson's cross wide from a wonderful position.
Neil Ardley had the only chance of a quiet spell after half-time with a free-kick
which failed to trouble Ince, and the Hornets silenced Gresty Road by deservedly
taking the lead with 61 minutes gone.
Vaughan was caught in possession by Hand, and Webber raced on to a perfect
pass before beating Clayton Ince with a strike from the edge of the box.
Crewe attempted to salvage a result in the dying stages but Richard Walker
headed wide from six yards out as Watford held on.
Crewe: Ince, Wright, Walker, Foster, McCready, Lunt, Sorvel,
Cochrane, Vaughan, Jones, Ashton. Subs: Bankole, Rix, Varney,
Watford: Chamberlain, Robinson, Cox, Gayle, Kelly, Ardley,
Vernazza, Mahon, Dyer, Webber, Fitzgerald. Subs: Dyche, Hand,
Ifil, Cook, Pidgeley.
Referee: F Stretton (Nottinghamshire).