Late rally denies a winning start

THREE Stevenage goals in the last five minutes of a competitive opening fixture of season 2017/18 denied Watford IFC a first-day win – and it was harsh on the hosts who led for most of the contest.

The Internet ‘Orns settled the quicker, thanks in part to a first-half lead courtesy of Mark O’Connor – but Boro replied within 15 minutes after a defensive lapse let in their striker to stroke home.

But Watford rallied, enjoying the lion’s share of possession, and went into the break 3-1 to the good thanks to two headed goals by skipper Ally Hill.

The first came direct from a far-post Stuart Sperinck flag-kick delivery and then, 10 minutes later, Sperinck was fed the ball after his own half-cleared corner and found Hill again with a deft outside-of-the-boot cross.

One of two debutants, Matt Mesiano, headed home for a fourth midway through the second 45 after a penalty box scramble saw the ball loop up kindly into his path. The other maiden appearance came from Mike Viney, who took the Man of the Match accolade for his sterling and rugged work down Watford’s right channel.

With the game never quite dead, it would nevertheless have been hard to foresee a three-goal comeback for the visitors.

Yet they took heart from making it 4-2 with five minutes left. And when they got a third with a minute on the watch, Watford’s set-piece vulnerability cost them in injury-time to force a case of shared spoils when the full-time whistle blew not even 60 seconds later.

Hornets: Neil Hall; Cleveland Brandy, Ally Hill (c), Ben Bateman, Matt Ainsley; Adam Gallichan, Stuart Holdham, Tom Davison, Connor Church; Mark O’Connor, Charlie Wood. Subs used: Mike Viney, Matt Mesiano, Stuart Sperinck, Max Walters, Richard Walker.

New badge revealed..

WIFC are delighted to reveal an updated club badge to celebrate the 20th birthday of the club…

The new badge..

Replacing the shield badge that’s been used for the last ten years, the design is intended as an evolution of past badges, with the familiar sliding tackle logo, first used in the 1980’s by Watford FC, still present and updated.

We will soon launch a range of t-shirts, shorts and other sporting goods with the new badge, available for all players past and present to order.

WIFC – the first games…

Early May 1997… Tony Blair had just been elected Prime Minister, Princess Diana started knocking around with Dodi Fayed, Channel 5 was launched, Radiohead were about to release their seminal ‘OK Computer’ album while no one, ever, had heard of Kasabian, Brexit, Cheryl Cole, Troy Deeney or WIFC. On one count, that was all about to change.

A year previously, a message was sent to the Watford mailing list, still in it’s own infancy, from a team representing QPR. They had taken part in a tournament called EuroNET ‘96, which was held in Nottingham. Graham Kelly, the then chief of the FA, was publicly sceptical about the ability of English football supporters to behave themselves during the Euro96, so through the use of Email lists and other internet based discussion groups, EuroNET had been organised to prove him wrong.

A game against QPR was organised by a Watford fan called Andy Barnard. Among those who volunteered to play were Aidy Spender and Simon Devon.  The game was due to be played at Wormwood Scrubs around Christmas time, but the weather intervened and the game was called off. Before it had even started, WIFC had died on the vine and the trail went dead until a few months later, when another message was sent to WML asking if Watford were interested in entering a team into EuroNET ‘97.

With Andy Barnard having moved to Tibilisi a new volunteer was required. Aidy was working and living in Essex during a year out from Uni, and he decided to take up the request.  “I basically just mailed saying I was up for trying to put a team together and seeing who else was interested” says a modest Spender. From that small acorn, a mighty oak began to grow and a game against Colchester was arranged with the help of Simon Devon, who sorted a pitch at Hatfield Uni, where he was a student.

Simon Devon’s calendar showing the dates that mattered..

Having suffered a postponement first time round, WIFC were now thwarted by the other bete noire of the amateur football team. “So we all met up and Colchester didn’t show” recalls Devon. “It was no real problem, as it at least meant we could meet each other and learn names this time! Among the people there that day were myself, Aidy, Mowen, Miles Jacobson, Julian Carrera, Paul Labbett, Jon Parry, ‘Dr’ Dave Perahia and Ian Lay.” Those players were to form the nucleus of the team that was entered into EuroNET ’97.

With the tournament looming, games were needed and at the third attempt, WIFC finally got off the ground with a visit to Arsenal on Saturday 18th May 1997. The game was played on an astroturf pitch in Caledonian Road, Holloway and ended in a 1-5 reverse against a side that had been together for a few years by then. Julian Carrera had the honour of scoring the first WIFC goal while the team included those already noted, and also saw the WIFC bow of Pete Fincham, despite a car crash on route the venue.

The first home game soon followed, as QPR travelled over to Hatfield on a windy day. Mowen scored a possibly wind-assisted 30 yarder, but QPR ran out 4-1 winners. WIFC finally notched a win against Fincham’s Sunday side, Headstone. Unfortunately, complete records weren’t kept at the time so the scorers in a 7-4 victory are lost in the addled memories of those involved. With preparations complete, the intrepid WIFC trailblazers set of for Middlesbrough, host of EuroNET ’97, in fine spirits.

The first team picture – WIFC’s trail blazers in the Rookery Stand before Euronet 97..

Changing Places glory for the Internet ‘Orns

WATFORD IFC collected their first silverware since 2013 at a sunny Stadium MK yesterday, with a tournament win in the MKDSA Changing Places Challenge Cup. The 5 team tournament, organised superbly by the MK Dons team, was held to raise funds for a Changing Places facility at the stadium, which will enable disabled people who cannot use standard accessible toilets, such as those with with profound and multiple learning disabilities, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, as well as older people, to enjoy matches at the stadium in comfort.

In the group stages of the 11 a side tournament, WIFC met Northampton first up.. with only 25 mins for each match the emphasis was on taking chances, but the Internet ‘Orns spurned a good number, including three woodwork strikes, before Tommy Twelves smashed home a winner with 2 mins to spare. The second game against the hosts was a more comfortable affair, with an early Twelves goal and a Stu Nicholls penalty securing a second win.

A stout defensive display saw a goal-less draw with Stevenage secured in the third game, with keeper Neil Hall in commanding form and while Twelves and Mark O’Connor both missed chances to make the final group game academic, the feeling in the camp was positive going into the last group game against Crawley needing a point to confirm a place in the final. WIFC duly took all three thanks to a fine 15th goal of the season from Mark O’Connor.

The final saw a re-match with Crawley, who had battled to the final with 11 men standing. Charlie Wood, back from 4 months travelling, opened the scoring with Twelves adding a second. All looked on course until Crawley finally punctured the Internet ‘Orns tournament clean sheet with 10 minutes to play, but any thoughts of a comeback were ended by Twelves straight from the re-start. With Crawley tiring and WIFC able to bring on fresh legs, O’Connor and Ben Kelly gave the scoreline a flattering hue with a goal apiece.

Stand-in manager Dave Messenger was delighted with the team spirit and effort shown throughout the day. “We defended brilliantly across the 125 minutes of football, and every member of the squad contributed to a memorable tournament win” enthused Messenger. “We were clinical in front of goal and kept the ball well all day. Best of all, the day was a huge success and it was great to see over £2000 raised for the MKDSA fund. We wish them all the very best with their future fund-raising for this important cause”

Squad: Neil Hall; Matt Ainsley, Ally Hill, John Sitkowski, David Sitkowski, Warren White, Stuart Nicholls (C), Matt Ball, Dave Messenger; Richard Murphy, Ben Kelly, Tom Davison, John Machin, Vince Machin, Charlie Wood; Tom Beck, Tommy Twelves, Mark O’Connor, Marc Duffy.

Results
Northampton
W 1-0
Twelves

MK Dons
W 2-0
Twelves, Nicholls (Pen)

Stevenage
D 0-0

Crawley
W 1-0
O’Connor

Crawley – Final
W 5-1
Wood, Twelves 2, O’Connor, Kelly

Hornets and Hammers share the spoils

A TYPICALLY pulsating encounter with old adversaries West Ham ended in a 3-3 draw for Watford IFC at a blustery Woodside, as Matt Ainsley marked his 44th birthday by skippering the Internet ‘Orns.

The Irons started much the brighter and deservedly took the game by the scruff of the neck with two goals inside the first 25 minutes. It left Watford facing an uphill task yet – spurred on by the combative central midfield duo of Derek Payne and James Jenkins – they weren’t about to accept their fate.

That said, it was the Hammers who gifted the Hornets a lifeline when an innocuous back-pass bobbled over the visiting keeper’s swipe and dribbled apologetically into the bottom corner of the West Ham net.

Just 2-1 down at half-time gave the hosts hope, but another sluggish start to a half cost Watford a third goal against and an uphill battle looked firmly on the cards – both mentally and literally, working their way up the Woodside slope.

But battle back they did, with player-manager Richard Walker combining to good effect up front with Mark O’Connor to push the Hammers back and earn some territorial advantage – and fellow subs Adam Gallichan and Lamar St-Cyr providing much-needed impetus.

The pressure told on 70 minutes when Walker curled a delightful strike up over the wall and inside the near post from a 20-yard free-kick.

The goal of the game came eight minutes later when Jenkins burst forward from midfield, exchanged a one-two with O’Connor, then stabbed the ball past the outrushing goalkeeper.

A couple of late opportunities could have sent the win either way but both sides shook hands on a hard-fought and worthy draw.

David Morren was in fine form at left-back, however he was pipped to the man-of-the-match award by Payne; the absence of the MoM Onesie denying him the chance to perform co-commentary duties at Vicarage Road in the XXL outfit.

Team: Tom Beck; Matt Ainsley (c), Stuart Holdham, Stuart Nicholls, Dave Morren; Ed Sterry, Derek Payne, James Jenkins, Max Walters; Lee Stiles, Joel Moody. Subs: Lamar St-Cyr, Phil McBride, Adam Gallichan, Mark O’Connor, Richard Walker.

Melson secures nervy win

THE Internet ‘Orns edged out their counterparts from Coventry by two goals to one after one of the most keenly-fought and enjoyable IFA matches for many a month.

City started much the brighter and would’ve punished Watford for their sloth had it not been for the first few of a string of outstanding saves from Hornets’ man-of-the-match, goalkeeper Kristian Melson.

Against the run of play at Woodside, the hosts were ahead thanks to an piece of skill from the unlikely source, Andy Myall. Finding himself in possession at the left-hand corner of the Sky Blues’ penalty area, he nutmegged his marker before curling a cross with the outside of his right foot to the far post where Adam Gallichan slid in to volley home his first goal for the club from close-range.

Benefiting from debutant Derek Payne’s influence in central midfield, Watford were the better side for the first 30 minutes of the second period, during which they doubled their advantage when player-manager Richard Walker floated an inch-perfect cross into the box for Dave Soloway to nudge home with his shin.

Payne’s fellow debutant Phil Myall had the chance to put the game out of sight but, after a great save saw Adam Gallichan’s volley pushed onto the crossbar, he could only nod a golden chance wide of the mark.

Coventry rallied gamely and pulled a goal back with eight minutes remaining – setting up a nervy rear-guard action from the Internet ‘Orns, capped in the game’s final minute when Melson plunged smartly at his near post to deny the Sky Blues an equaliser.

Team: Kristian Melson; Ed Sterry, Ben Bateman, Ally Hill (c), Matt Ainsley; Max Walters, Stuart Holdham, Derek Payne, Andy Myall; Dave Soloway, Phil Myall. Subs: Liam McGarry, Lee Stiles, Richard Walker.

2016/17

All of the results and scores from 2016/17 so far…

Date Comp Opposition Score Scorers
13-Aug-16 LGE1 Southampton A W 3-2 Wood, Murphy, Nicholls
27-Aug-16 LGE2 Cambridge H W 8-2 Nicholls 4, Kelly, Wood, J Sitkowski, D Sitkowski
03-Sep-16 LGE3 Stevenage A L 0-2
10-Sep-16 LGE4 West Ham A W 5-1 Murphy, O’Connor 2 (1 pen), Nicholls, Pegram
08-Oct-16 LGE5 AFC Wimbledon H W 4-0 O’Connor 2, Wood, Murphy
29-Oct-16 LGE6 Gllingham H L 2-5 O’Connor 2 (1pen)
12-Nov-16 LGE7 Millwall H W 5-3 O’Connor 4, Butterick
04-Feb-17 LGE8 MK Dons A D 3-3 Nicholls, O’Connor, Pegram
18-Feb-17 LGE9 Coventry H W 2-1 Gallichan, Soloway
25-Feb-17 LGE10 West Ham H D 3-3 OG, Walker, Jenkins
04-Mar-17 LGE11 MK Dons H D 1-1 Gallichan
11-Mar-17 LGE12 AFC Wimbledon A W 1-0 O’Connor
18-Mar-17 LGE13 Millwall A L 0-3
25-Mar-17 LGE14 Cambridge A L 1-2 Lohan
15-Apr-17 LGE15/IFACQF Gillingham H L 2-4 Kelly, Beck
29-Apr-17 LGE16 Leyton Orient A W 6-0 O’Connor 2, OG, Da Costa, Nicholls, Davison
14-May-17 MKDSACCC Northampton N W 1-0 Twelves
14-May-17 MKDSACCC MK Dons N W 2-0 Twelves, Nicholls (Pen)
14-May-17 MKDSACCC Stevenage N D 0-0
14-May-17 MKDSACCC Crawley N W 1-0 O’Connor
14-May-17 MKDSACCC Crawley N W 5-1 Wood, Twelves 2, O’Connor, Kelly

4 wins out of 5 for the Internet ‘Orns

AFTER a 4 week hiatus, WIFC continue their good start to the IFA season by recording a 4th win in 5 games on Saturday at Woodside against AFC Wimbledon. In what was a scrappy affair throughout, early chances were at a premium and it took around 30 minutes for the deadlock to be broken when Mark O’Connor scored following some penalty box pinball and a blocked Stuart Oldham shot. O’Connor soon made it 2 and 4 for the season when his powerful shot took a slight deflection past the visiting keeper.

Playing with the slope in the second period, WIFC started to control the game better and a 3rd goal was the least they deserved, Charlie Wood finishing after good work from Ben Pegram. The Internet ‘Orns saved the best for last when Richard Murphy celebrated the recent arrival of daughter Lila with his 3rd of the season after some intricate passing from Wood and the returning Joel Moody. There was still time for Kristian Melson to make two excellent late saves to earn his first clean sheet for the club and complete a comfortable home win.

Team. 4-4-2, R to L. Kristian Melson; Ed Sterry, Dan Butterick, Ben Bateman, Ben Pegram; Richard Murphy, Adam Gallichan, Stuart Holdham, Joel Moody; Charlie Wood, Mark O’Connor. Subs James Jenkins & Max Walters.

Double header delight for the Internet ‘Orns

WIFC set up a six point Saturday with a third straight league win over West Ham on a bright but windy Saturday morning in Hackney. The visitors went into this fixture knowing that West Ham would be looking to atone for last season’s results and started on the front foot. Having seen the majority of the ball in the opening stages, a couple of early spurned chances were soon forgotten when Richard Murphy opened the scoring through a cross come shot looped over the players inside the box and the keeper and nestled into the net.

Mark O’Connor, who scored 5 in the corresponding fixture last season, also started the game well and the Watford youngster soon doubled the advantage with a tidy finish from just inside the box, finishing low and hard away from the keeper. The home defence was then breached a third time, with Stuart Nicholls notching his 6th goal of the season from close range following a sloppy West Ham clearance from a corner.

The Internet ‘Orns made it 4 before half time when the West Ham defence again failed to contain O’Connor, who was upended inside the area. Last season’s leading scorer picked himself up to take the kick, which was confidently dispatched for his second of the game and season.

The second half saw the swapping of goalkeepers with Ally Hill going between the sticks for the second 45 against a strong wind and worsening conditions, following an unselfish but collected first half in goal from Steve Eustice. West Ham started the half strongly, as the visitors struggled to contain and manage a change in formation, which lead to a flurry of chances. Man of the match Hill was equal to the task and produced a string of impressive, albeit camera worthy saves.

West Ham eventually pulled one back with 25 minutes to play, which was no less than they deserved following a long ball that was not properly dealt with by the Watford defence and a calm finish through the legs of Hill. Any thought’s of a comeback were curtailed by WIFC’s 5th and final goal of the game, when Ben Pegram collected the ball 30 yards from goal and with a big assist from the wind deceived the keeper with a curling lob with 15 minutes to go.

So a 3rd win in 4 from the start of the season, and an ideal platform for forthcoming cup matches against Crawley and Preston.

Team. Steve Eustice; Ed Sterry, Ally Hill, Dan Butterick, Matt Ainsley; Ben Pegram, Stuart Holdham, Adam Gallichan, Stuart Nicholls, Richard Murphy; Mark O’Connor.  Subs: Charlie Wood, Phil McBride, Andrew Ibbott