Goalscorers: Tommy Mooney 14
Liverpool FC: Sander Westerveld, Jamie Carragher, Vegard Heggem (Rigobert Song 81), Sami Hyypia, Dominic Matteo, Steven Gerrard (David Thompson 57), Jamie Redknapp, Vladimir Smicer (Karl-Heinz Riedle 62), Patrik Berger, Titi Camara, Robbie Fowler
Watford: Chris Day, Des Lyttle, Robert Page, Steve Palmer, Paul Robinson, Mark Williams, Peter Kennedy, Micah Hyde, Richard Johnson (Clint Easton 52), Tommy Mooney, Michel Ngonge (Dominic Foley 69)
Referee: Alan Wilkie, Attendance: 44,174
Watford were in their debut Premier League season and Graham Taylor’s side were given little chance of surviving by many punters in pre-season. The Hornets arrived at Anfield in August 1999 for their third match at this level without a point recorded so far. However, they stunned Merseyside with a fabulous performance and a remarkable victory which was one of the high points of their campaign.
Watford had lost their first two matches to Wimbledon and Sunderland. In both games, they’d competed well but lacked the cutting instinct to hurt their opponents. However, they made the better start with their players handling the occasion of playing at Anfield very well. Richard Johnson was the first to come close inside the first 10 minutes, with his shot stinging the palms of Liverpool’s new goalkeeper recruit, Sander Westerveld.
Four minutes later, the visitors were infront. It was a scrappy goal and a very bad one for Liverpool to concede but no-one connected with Watford was complaining. A free-kick by Peter Kennedy was played into the Liverpool penalty area towards Tommy Mooney who didn’t connect properly. However, the chance wasn’t over. Jamie Carragher slipped and two Watford attackers slid in successfully at the same time to rob Dominic Matteo. The ball fell perfectly to Mooney and he simply couldn’t miss from six-yards out. The Kop had been stunned. However, with still 76 minutes left to play, surely Gerard Houllier’s side would find a way back into the match.
There was a swift response from the Reds. Titi Camara’s driving run down the left-hand side created an opportunity for Steven Gerrard. However, the youngster fired over the crossbar. Patrik Berger came closer with his swerving free-kick, ensuring fine reactions from goalkeeper Chris Day.
However in the second half, Liverpool’s attack looked very blunt and in fact, it was the Hornets who looked more likely to add to their total. As torrential rain gave way to bright sunshine, Mooney escaped some slack marking again but was denied by the feet of Westerveld. His block fell straight to Micah Hyde, whose ambitious lob was cleared off his own goal-line by Rigobert Song. Mooney and Mark Williams squandered further opportunities to increase the lead but the one goal was enough for Taylor to claim his first victory at Liverpool FC’s home in his 22nd year as a professional manager.
Liverpool did improve and finished fourth, whilst Watford beat Chelsea a month later but were relegated well before the season’s end. However, the travelling supporters back to Hertfordshire will always remember the club’s first Premier League visit to Merseyside.