Wealdstone 0 – 3 Watford
0 - 3
The coming season looks bright for Wealdstone on the evidence of this prestigious opening friendly match performance against Championship side Watford boasting virtually their full first team. A fitting compliment from visiting manager Malky McKay who had promised a strong squad for Gordon Bartlett’s testimonial and the crowd were not disappointed.
Bartlett was being rewarded for 14 years in charge of the Stones and was presented with a crystal decanter prior to kick off by Wealdstone’s current Chairman Howard Krais and the two previous Chairmen, Nick Symmons and Paul Rumens.
Stones featured most of the squad that ended last season so well although Lee Chappell and Carl Martin were both not available. As expected, both sides used all of their substitutes in the second half; several of the home substitutes caught the eye – notably Ross Lafette up front and Jamie Osborne also a front player.
Wealdstone looked to be in competitive mood from the off and were never going to be roll over easily for their lofty opponents featuring new signings defender Jure Travner who looked class and striker Danny Graham.
Forbes and Gray were uncompromising with some early challenges and this appeared to unsettle the Hornets at times who were perhaps not expecting such physicality.
The first moment of note came on ten minutes when Tamas Priskin beat James Gray inside the box and was brought down and perhaps surprisingly the referee was not interested in any appeals for a spot kick
Watford were in control although Stones pressed the ball consistently well in the midfield. The first chance fell to Graham, whose half volley went wide of the near post after Jon Harley’s knock down. The opener for Hornets came after 17 minutes. Trialist Claudio Beauvue chipped the ball into the box and after Priskin’s header was well saved by Luke Woods, Stones defenders failed to clear the ball, and Danny Graham bundled home.
Wealdstone had a couple of half-chances midway through the half in a good spell for them. First, the pumped up Kieron Forbes’ corner was just tipped away from the on-coming attackers by Richard Lee and then the hardworking Greg Ngoyi headed wide from a Ben Alexander cross.
Hornet’s Claudio Beauvue was the most impressive player of the first half and his influence on the game increased as the half wore on.
Alan Massey, James Gray and Marvin McCoy for Stones were outstanding at the back playing with energy and full commitment.
Beauvue then played his part in Watford’s second goal as he slipped Lloyd Doyley in and the full back crossed for Jon Harley. Harley’s header went wide but the ref blew for a trip by Marvin McCoy and Tamas Priskin sent Luke Woods the wrong way from the spot.
Priskin almost grabbed his second goal moments later when he smashed a shot against the post from 20 yards out.
As the half came to a close, there was another penalty appeal when after Beauvue’s cross, John Eustace was brought down trying to reach the second ball, but the official dismissed the appeals.
The second period began in more open style and Stones found greater time and space kicking down the slope. Ben Alexander did well with a strike from 25 yards that moved enough in the air to force Richard Lee to palm away.
Wealdstone had the Hornets under some pressure when the excellent Alan Massey beat Lee to a cross, although Mike Williamson was able to clear.
Stones’ brought on substitute striker big Ross Lafeite who should have taken advantage of Adrian Mariappa’s mistake when he ran through alone, however he momentarily lost control and couldn’t get a shot away.
Watford used all their subs except for their Academy keeper replacement and the first contribution from youngster Kurtney Brooks was to block a goal bound header off the line from Marvin McCoy for Stones best chance to pull a goal back.
Nathan Ellington made an appearance from the Hornets bench and his first effort was to drag a shot wide.
Ellington forced Woods into a superb double save from close range before he scored his first goal for Watford since April 2008.
Luke Woods then made his first error of the entire match with a poor kick and Ellington, who was signed from West Bromwich Albion for £3.25m, showed good composure to thump the ball home with his left foot.
Stones had done themselves proud against a very strong Watford side and can now look forward to the clash with Leeds United on Tuesday evening (21 July) at The Vale.
Wealdstone: Woods, McCoy, Jones (Locke 70), Gray, Massey, Quaye (Ashe 62), Forbes, O’Leary , Alexander (Lafeite 55), Ngoyi (Osborne 62), Spendlove (Lewis 81). Subs: Thomas.
Watford: Lee; Doyley (Hodson 45), Williamson (Oshodi 71), Mariappa, Travner (Bryan 45); Beauvue (Sordell 80), Severin (Brooks 75), Eustace (Kiernan 75), Harley; Graham (Henderson 60), Priskin (Ellington 60). Subs: Irving