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Football: Aldo's men lost in a war zone; WATFORD 2 TRANMERE 1.

THE BATTLE of Vicarage Road claimed two Watford casualties but Tranmere manager John Aldridge dismissed it all as "handbags at ten paces".

Richard Johnson and Allan Smart saw red for Watford, who cancelled out David Kelly's opener to deny Rovers any reward from the bloody battle- ground.

Aldridge said: "I thought the people of Watford were supposed to be a quiet bunch.

"Johnson's second challenge was a vicious foul so he deserved to go. That just sparked the war of Vicarage Road. Everyone got involved in silly things - punching and stamping all over the place.

"But most of it was handbags at ten paces."

When Kelly slipped the ball past Watford keeper Alec Chamberlain to punish Paul Robinson's wayward header, it was all that Rovers deserved after having the best of a dull first half.

But Tranmere held on to their lead for only 13 minutes, Peter Kennedy lashing the ball past John Achterberg to level the scores.

But the game only really burst into life with 10 minutes to go, Johnson seeing red for two bookable offences - the second a nasty challenge on Kenny Irons.

Four minutes later, Watford were awarded a penalty when Tranmere keeper Achterberg lashed out at Watford striker Smart following a Hornets corner.

Achterberg seemed to have redeemed himself by saving Kennedy's spot kick. But the Dutch stopper could do nothing to prevent Zaire striker Michel Ngonge scoring from the rebound.

Smart saw red for a scuffle with Achterberg just after the penalty.

STAR MAN: Kenny Irons.

Worked tirelessly in the Rovers midfield and caused Watford trouble at set pieces.

WATFORD: Chamberlain 7, Bazeley 6, Kennedy 7, Page 6, Palmer 6, Robinson 6, Smart 6, Hyde 6 (Mooney 7), Whittingham 5 (Bonnot 6), Johnson 6, Gudmundsson 5 (Ngonge 6).

TRANMERE: Achterberg 7, Allen 7, Thompson 6, McGreal 6, Challinor 7, IRONS 8, Mahon 7, Santos 7, Kelly 7, Taylor 6 (Williams 6), Hill 6.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Winterburn, Sarah
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 4, 1999
Words:319
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