Vicarage Road Stadium
Football League Championship
NEWCASTLE UNITED 2
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Kick off 3pm
Craig Hope reports from Vicarage Road ...
NEWCASTLE United survived a late scare to claim their first away victory since before Christmas and move six points clear at the top of the Championship.
The Magpies were made to sweat during the final three minutes of injury-time as substitute Will Hoskins sparked hope of an unlikely comeback when he smashed home from close range after a deflected shot had ran kindly into his path.
United had taken the lead in the fourth minute when a combination of Kevin Nolan and Andy Carroll helped to turn Danny Guthrie's free-kick onto the head of Fabricio Coloccini who nodded into the bottom corner from just three yards out.
Carroll then doubled the advantage five minutes after the break when he rose at the near post to head Danny Guthrie's corner beyond Scott Loach.
Hoskins late strike renewed Hornets hope but the visitors held on to claim a deserved three points.
SECOND-HALF UPDATES (click refresh for latest)
Full-time: Watford 1 United 2
90+3min - United are hanging on but just seconds remain.
90+1min - WATFORD GOAL (1-2): A deflected shot cannons into the path of Will Hoskins and the Watford sub is left with the simplest of tasks in blasting home from close range.
89min - Fabrice Pancrate enters the fray with Danny Guthrie making way.
83min - United are just playing this one out and are in firm control.
79min - Watford are commiting bodies forward - there's a chance United could nick another on the break.
75min - A hopeful chant of "This pitch is unplayable" rings out from the home fans.
74min - Nile Ranger replaces Leon Best.
72min - A swirling rain is now lashing down here at Vicarage Road.
66min - West Brom have equalised at home to Derby, Forest are trailing by a goal to nil to Leicester City.
63min - Williamson slides to snuff out the danger at the expense of a corner from Danny Graham's near-post cross. Harley's swirling flag-kick causes problems but, when the ball drops, Danny Guthrie doesn't need a second invitation in swiping clear.
61min - Steve Harper does well to claw away Don Cowie's centre with yellow shirts arriving at speed in a bid to turn on goal.
60min - Derby are winning at West Brom meaning United are currently nine points clear of The Baggies.
54min - Steve Harper thumps a clearance downfield and, when the ball carries into the Watford danger zone, Scott Loach is forced to abandon the comfort of his six-yard area to come and claim from the heads of Carroll and Best who had given chase to the long punt.
50min - NEWCASTLE GOAL (0-2): United again strike early in the half as, from Danny Guthrie's in-swinging corner, Andy Carroll towers at the near post to plant a firm header into the back of the Hornets net for his 11th of the season.
48min - Alan Smith is booked for a stiff challenge which leaves Henri Lansbury in a heap.
47min - Watford come hurtling out of the blocks but an early corner is dealt with by the head of Mike Williamson.
There's no changes at the break for either side as Watford restart play.
Half-time: Watford 0 United 1
45+2min - Watford win the game's first corner but Cowie's high delivery drifts away for a goal-kick.
There will be three minutes added time.
44min - And no sooner is Anthony Bates' yellow card back in his pocket than it is out once more; this time flashed in the direction of Henri Lansbury after a late clip inside the United half.
43min - Jon Harley becomes the fourth man to see yellow when he slides to topple Leon Best on the left wing.
39min - The pitch, which is also used by Rugby Union side Saracens, is really starting to cut up in the centre of the field.
35min - Jonas Gutierrez carries forward from halfway and surveys his options; the best of which is the front-running Leon Best. The Argentine tries to locate the dash of his team-mate but the pass is intercepted by DeMerit and Watford clear.
30min - Those earlier showers have now made way for bright sunshine here in Hertfordshire with half of the pitch now illuminated by a low, winter sun.
26min - United have Danny Simpson to thank for preserving their lead as he reads the unfolding danger to cover and head clear Danny Graham's right-wing centre which had been headed for the brow of the unmarked Helguson just six yards from goal.
25min - Former Watford defender Mike Williamson quickly follows Best into the referee's notebook for a shove on Heidar Helguson.
23min - Leon Best is booked when his studs connect with the shin of Jay DeMerit midway inside the Watford half.
17min - Heidar Helguson lets his frustrations get the better of him as he chops Coloccini by the right-hand corner-flag and duly enters the book.
13min - Gutierrez is causing the home side problems down the left flank and again he is left in a heap on the heavy turf after a challenge from Eustace. van Aanholt lifts high into the area but it is the gloves of Scott Loach which claim on the penalty spot.
7min - There's a smattering of rain beginning to fall on what could become a bog of a playing surface.
4min - NEWCASTLE GOAL (0-1): Jonas Gutierrez is upended by Adrian Mariappa on the left-hand touchline and United have a free-kick. Danny Guthrie whips into the area and, following a trio of headers, the visitors take the lead; Kevin Nolan's flick turned back across goal by Andy Carroll for Fabricio Coloccini to nod into the bottom corner from just three yards out for his second of the season.
3min - Jon Harley stings the palms of Steve Harper with a thunderous strike from 20 yards, the Toon stopper patting up in the air before gathering.
30secs - The hosts are soon on the offensive and Don Cowie, storming onto Danny Graham's pullback, curls high and wide of Steve Harper's goal from just inside the area - there's a strong wind here inside Vicarage Road and that effort certainly caught the breeze as it drifted into the stand behind the goal.
It is the visitors who get us started defending the end where the 2,500 travelling fans are gathered.
Three stands of the ground are virtually full but the old East Stand, in which just the press and team dugouts are housed, is vacant due to ongoing building work. Watford and United emerge from the tunnel beneath us with the visitors kitted in black-and-white shirts, white shorts and white socks.
Nicky Butt returned to full training this week after a thigh layoff, but today's game comes too soon for the skipper.
Watford include two boyhood Newcastle fans; Cramlington-born Martin Taylor and Gateshead lad Danny Graham, while former Redheugh Boys Club striker Liam Henderson is named on the bench.
WFC: Scott Loach, Adrian Mariappa, Jay DeMerit (c), Martin Taylor, Lloyd Doyley, Don Cowie, Henri Lansbury, John Eustace, Jon Harley, Heidar Helguson, Danny Graham
Subs: Stephen McGinn, Ross Jenkins, Richard Lee, Will Hoskins, Liam Henderson, Michael Bryan, Lee Hodson
NUFC: Steve Harper, Danny Simpson, Fabricio Coloccini, Mike Williamson, Patrick van Aanholt, Danny Guthrie, Alan Smith (c), Kevin Nolan, Jonas Gutierrez, Leon Best, Andy Carroll
Subs: Tim Krul, Tamas Kadar, Fitz Hall, Ryan Taylor, Nile Ranger, Fabrice Pancrate, Ryan Donaldson
Attendance: 17, 120
Referee: Anthony Bates