Wealdstone 1-3 Watford
1 - 3
Wealdstone put in a spirited performance on Tuesday night against a full strength Watford side, and whilst they eventually went down 3-1, there are plenty of positives to be drawn from the match as manager Gordon Bartlett continues his preparations for the start of the season on the 20th August.
Playing in front of a healthy crowd of just under 1000 on a perfect playing surface, it was Watford who had the first effort of note five minutes in when Ross Jenkins let fly from distance, however luckily for Wealdstone it took a heavy deflection on its way goalwards and was easily gathered by Jonathan North.
Both sides were knocking the ball around at pace early on, and a swift passing move for Watford created an opening on 15 minutes when a succession of passes resulted in Chris Iwelumo getting in front of his marker and firing wide.
North was then forced to make his first save of the game five minutes later, saving smartly from Troy Deeney’s close range effort, before a quick breakaway saw Richard Jolly fire over from distance when he spotted Scott Loach off his line.
David Hicks was next to try his luck from distance for Stones, with the tenacious midfielder winning possession in midfield before hitting a low drive from 25 yards which was saved by Loach.
Watford then took the lead on 33 minutes. Stones were caught out in midfield, and Mark Yeates was able to pick up the ball and run unchallenged into the box where he slotted past North into the bottom corner.
Yeates then nearly turned provider two minutes later, showing great skill to get past James Hammond before pulling the ball back to Deeney whose effort was deflected wide.
Watford were now piling on the pressure, and North had to be at his best to deny Iwelumo five minutes before half time. The ball was only half cleared to the edge of the box where the Scotland striker let fly with powerful volley which North expertly palmed away.
Iwelumo did fare better on the stroke of half time though when he put his side two up. Lee Hodson put in a low cross from the right which was deflected into the path of Iwelumo, who made no mistake drilling home from close range.
The second half began with Watford nearly adding a third, and once again it was only the brilliance of North which denied them when Iwelumo bore down on goal, only to see his effort well blocked by North.
North was beaten one minute later though, however he was saved by the woodwork when Yeates let fly with a superb effort from 25 yards which crashed off the bar. Stones could then only half clear the loose ball which fell to Marvin Sordell whose effort was beaten away by North.
Despite the early pressure Stones didn’t let their heads drop and a neat passing move between Peter Dean and Lee Chappell resulted in the latter sending over a low cross which Loach just managed to gather with Richard Jolly bearing down on him.
Stones then managed to pull one back on the hour mark when Alex Dyer did well to hold off his man before threading a superb through ball to Jolly who cooly slotted past former England under 21 goalkeeper Loach.
The goal seemed to give the home side a massive lift, and Loach had to be alert to beat away a powerful effort from Nikki Ahamed.
A mass substitution then occurred with Watford making no fewer than 9 changes.
The changes seemed to slow down the pace of the game, although a moment of brilliance from former Wealdstone loanee Marvin Sordell on 79 minutes saw Watford increase their lead. The striker showed why he is so highly rated, turning neatly on the edge of the box before firing low past North.
Sordell then came close to adding a fourth for his side three minutes from time, volleying just wide across the face of goal from an acute angle.
All in all both sides would have considered it a productive workout, and Wealdstone can now look forward to welcoming another League side to the Vale next Tuesday in the shape of Wycombe Wanderers, 7.45 kick off.
Wealdstone: North, Hammond (Conteh 72), Cronin, Locke, Chappell (c), Jordan (Wallace 56), Hicks (Lumsden 72), Dyer, Ahamed, Dean (Knight 72), Jolly (Beardsworth 80 (Beagle 90)).