Furlong goal and Waugh heroics slow Newcastle's charge to the Premier League
The Kevin Keegan revolution was well underway at St James’ Park. Newcastle were top of Division One and were already preparing for life in the Premier League.
Keegan had just signed Scott Sellars from Leeds and Andy Cole for a club record £1.75million. They were five points clear at the top of the table and looking to take another step towards the championship trophy. Watford were struggling in the league and had lost five in a row before Newcastle’s visit.
Keith Waugh, the 36-year-old reserve goalkeeper, came into the side because Perry Suckling had taken a knock. ‘I felt I was fit and would have played,’ says Suckling. ‘In truth, I got the hook. Keith played magnificently. It was a first-class goalkeeping display. At times, he kept us in it.’
It was Waugh’s night – the only time in seven appearances for Watford that he ended up on the winning side. That night he was inspired, keeping Newcastle at bay when they looked like opening the scoring.
Early in the second half, Waugh made two incredible saves in the space of two minutes. First he filled the goal and blocked David Kelly’s shot when Lee Clark had found him in space with just the keeper to beat. Then he pushed Cole’s firm, swerving effort over the bar.
Waugh’s heroics stirred the Hornets and they began to attack with more purpose. Furlong’s goal came when Gary Porter’s free-kick caused a melee in the penalty area. David Holdsworth headed it down, Ken Charlery poked it with his toe to Furlong and the striker smashed home his 22nd goal of the season.
Waugh kept the saves coming and Barry Ashby booted a Newcastle effort off the line in the last minute as Watford held on. Keegan took defeat relatively well, although he did moan about the bobbly pitch.
‘It was a great result,’ says Andy Hessenthaler. ‘We grafted for it but we were good value for the points. They had spent a lot of money on players, millions, and already the gap was opening between the haves and the have-nots.
‘After the game, I pulled up at the lights on my way home. I looked across and Kevin Keegan was sitting in the back seat of the car next to me. He had a chauffeur driving him but I was the one with a big grin on my face.’
Watford Waugh, Solomon, Ashby, Dublin, Holdsworth, Lavin, Hessenthaler, Willis (Bazeley 79), Furlong, Charlery, Porter
Manager Steve Perryman
Watford scorer Furlong 58
Why was this match chosen? Keegan's Newcastle were running away with the First Division title and relegation was once again lurking over the Hornets' shoulder. Going into this match, Watford had lost four in a row so this victory came out of nowhere.
How do I feel about this game's inclusion now? It fits into the category of brilliant, unexpected midweek wins when the hope shone as brightly as the floodlights.