Wealdstone 1-3 Watford
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Wednesday’s annual friendly between Wealdstone and local neighbours Watford saw manager Gordon Bartlett make 11 changes from Mondays defeat to Dag & Red, with the likes of Beagle, Locke, Ngoyi and Forbes, as well as new signings Burnell and Douglas coming into the side. The Watford side was made up mainly of reserve and academy players, after the first team played at Stevenage the night before.
The first half started with a bang, the home fans almost seeing a Wealdstone goal inside the first minute, when summer acquisition Danny Burnell smashed a shot against the bar from 20 yards out after breaking from the Watford midfield. This early excitement subsided straight away however, and the game entered into a midfield battle, both teams struggling to find space, and the Wealdstone defence using the offside trap to good effect. Kieron Forbes was impressing for the home side, his direct running caused Watford full back Archer all sorts of problems. Around the 20 minutes mark however, Watford started to up the tempo, and after first year scholar Tommie Hoban flashed a header wide for the Hornets, they soon took the lead. Young left back Oliver Archer was given too much space to run with the ball from the half way line, and with no one closing down, rifled a dipping left foot drive underneath the dive of Beagle, who despite getting a hand to it, failed to stop the ball finding the far corner. The Stones’ response was immediate, ex-hornet Kieron Forbes showing his blistering pace by breaking clear of the Watford defence, only to fire his shot over Jack Bonham’s goal. Wealdstone were putting together some good moves after the opening Watford goal and should have taken the lead on the half hour mark. Left back Louis Lavers put in an inch perfect cross from the left on to the head of striker Ngoyi, and after his header was somehow kept out by Bonham, the ball fell to striker Jon Douglas who should have scored from 5 yards out.
Lavers put another good ball in minutes later after a short corner, but Sean Cronin failed to connect properly with the ball at the back post. Wealdstone were made to rue their missed chances five minutes later. Watford winger Sean Murray, who celebrated signing his first professional contract this week, put in a good cross for striker Gavin Massey who did brilliantly to control and fire an unstoppable shot past Stones keeper Beagle and into the top of the net. This goal sparked an exciting five minutes that lead to two further goals before the interval. The first was a quick response from the men in blue. A scuffed shot by Logie found its way perfectly to Greg Ngoyi, who after finding himself alone in the area, collected the ball and fired it past the Watford keeper, to make it two in two for the striker. From the kick off, Watford went straight down the other end, and scored the goal of the game when Liam Henderson hit an unstoppable 25 yard drive that sailed over Beagle in the Wealdstone goal. The Ref blew soon after to bring to a close a half that certainly got better as it went on.
The second half was a much tighter affair with plenty of substitutions and very few clear cut chances. Long range efforts from Hornet midfielders Murray and Severin went wide as well as a speculative shot from Kieron Forbes half way through the second period. Both teams’ defences were on top in this half, both sets of strikers failing to find any room behind the oppositions back four. Stones keeper Beagle wasn’t called into action until the 70th minute, making an impressive save to keep out Matthew Whichelow’s powerful shot from the centre of the area, doing well after being largely inactive for most of the half. The Stones brought on young midfielder George Fierstone earlier in the half and he looked lively, putting in some good touches and after 80 minutes he set Ojukwu through, only for the fellow substitute to drag his shot wide of the goal. Fierstone was again involved when he tried an audacious volley from outside the area on the 90 minute mark that just sailed over, and this proved to be the last action of the match.
The game was another good work out for the Stones who couldn’t have done much more to stop three quality strikes from the Hornets. New signings Douglas and Burnell both impressed as well as midfielder Kieron Forbes, whose surging runs from midfield were a trouble for the Watford backline throughout the game. Wealdstone continue their preparations for the new season away to Aylesbury this Saturday, 3pm kick off.
WEALDSTONE: Beagle (Mcweeney 72); Junior Osbourne, Locke (Clarke 58); Cronin, Lavers (Sekora 68); Forbes, Brooks, Logie (Fierstone 61); Ngoyi (Jamie Osbourne 61); Douglas (Ojukwu 68); Burnell. Subs not used: A Massey.
WATFORD XI: Bonham, Hoban, Aldred, Oshodi, Archer, Murray (Isaac 85); Jenkins, Severin, Whichelow, Henderson, Massey (Smith 85). Subs not used: Bond (gk), Bevans, Assombalonga
GOALS: WEALDSTONE; Ngoyi (45). WATFORD XI; Archer (25), Massey (43), Henderson (45).
By Dan Goldstone