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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Big Match Preview

Watford vs. Scunthorpe United
Saturday October 23, 15:00, Vicarage Road

Two of the Championship's smaller outfits currently enjoying differing fortunes meet in the Home Counties this weekend as high-flying Watford entertain Scunthorpe.

While the Hornets go into the game sitting in 3rd, their visitors from Lincolnshire sit just three points above the drop zone in 18th.

When considering the resources and budget at Scunny however, a similar finishing position come the end of the campaign would represent a huge success for the division's minnows.

It would arguably be an even greater achievement than last season's survival, too, after the Iron lost hugely influential manager Nigel Adkins to Southampton last month.

His replacement was first team coach Ian Baraclough who, although part of Adkins's staff, is stepping up into his first ever managerial role.

It's tough to imagine a greater baptism of fire, but the 39-year-old has responded well to the task so far - with two wins, two draws, and three defeats from his seven games.

That's included a thumping 4-0 victory at Sheffield United and Tuesday evening's 3-2 comeback win at Preston. They also secured three points on the road on the opening day at Reading.

United will be confident, therefore, that they can come back from the trip down south with something to show for their efforts.

Key to their hopes will be attacking pair Chris Dagnall and Martyn Woolford - both of whom were on the scoresheet at Deepdale in midweek.

Ian Baraclough is charged with keeping Scunthorpe up this season

They'll be facing a stern test at the other end of the pitch however, with the Hornets the Championship's top scorers. They've notched up 25 goals in their 12 games to date.

Top scorer David Graham has already bagged eight goals. He and Marvin Sordell - just one behind on seven - will be a real threat for the home side on Saturday.

Despite their fine form in front of goal, Malky Mackay's side have a patchy record at Vicarage Road so far, with two wins, two defeats, and two draws from their half a dozen home games.

They returned to winning ways in Tuesday's 2-1 win over Ipswich. They've also seen off Middlesbrough at home, but Leeds and Swansea have both left with maximum spoils from their trips to Hertfordshire.

Like his opposite number this weekend, Mackay is a young manager in just his second full season in charge at Watford. He will be keen to address his side's home failings to ensure they remain competitive.

However, after a difficult second half of last season, he will be optimistic that he has a squad capable of avoiding being involved towards the wrong end again.

It's fair to say, too, that most pundits would have expected these two teams to be struggling towards the foot of the division, but both sides are confounding the critics to date.

This promises to be a hard-fought encounter between two hard-working sides, but Watford's greater striking power may just edge it in their favour on the day.

Nobes' Prediction: Watford 2 Scunthorpe United 1

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