Arch-poacher Paul Wilkinson scored 56 goals for the Hornets at an average of one in every two-and-a-bit games and plenty of them were winners. Indeed, only 18 players have scored more league goals for the Hornets than the Lincolnshire-born centre forward. But the man signed from Nottingham Forest ranks the one he got at Oxford, tonight's opponents, to complete the great escape from relegation in 1991 as one of the most significant of his three-and-a-bit years at Vicarage Road.
The Golden Boys were staring down the barrel at relegation from then Division Two (now the Championship) after losing their first six home league games of the season and picking up just 10 points from their first 17 games. But they somehow managed to just about keep in touch and then hit a purple patch, winning six and drawing two of a nine-game spell.
That mini-revival put them in a position where their fate was in their own hands heading to Oxford in the penultimate game of the season. The home side were guaranteed a top-half finish and a tough nut to crack in their own backyard, but the Hornets dug deep to pull off a famous 1-0 win that sealed safety with one game to spare and spark joyous scenes in the away end at the Manor Ground.
“It was a great day,” said Wilkinson, now 55. “It was such a relief to get that result as we didn't have the best of seasons and we were on a slippery slope. But we'd been on a little bit of a run and had a bit of confidence that we could get a result.”