Hammers hit for six of the best

WATFORD IFC produced an almost perfect all-round performance – certainly matching any of this season’s cup exploits – to put six unanswered goals past West Ham IFC in east London.

So often having had to play second fiddle to the Hammers’ fans team in recent seasons, the Hornets erased the memory of several painful trips to Flanders Field with a fully-deserved victory inspired by a lethal exhibition of finishing from five-goal Mark O’Connor.

But a gritty rear-guard action perfectly complemented the goalscoring exploits, shackling the usually potent West Ham forwards and minimising clear-cut chances given up.

A fairly even first half saw Rob Sterry miss two great chances before O’Connor profited from Hammers’ defensive indecision to round the keeper and slot home from the corner of the six-yard box.

And it was two on the stroke of half-time when, from a corner, the ball pinballed around at close-range before O’Connor poked home.

The hosts pinned Watford back for a 15-minute spell early into the second period, and player-manager Richard Walker was at his best in denying the Irons a route back into the game with a plunging low save from a headed-on long throw.

Preserving the two-goal lead meant a third Hornets’ goal would kill the game and it was Sterry – atoning for earlier misses – who was Johnny-on-the-spot in the box to provide it.

O’Connor swept home for his hat-trick before producing the best of his five finishes with a crisp half-volley from a near-impossible angle close to the byeline.

Such was Watford’s dominance, they had the ball in the West Ham area often enough as the game wound down to see a clearance hit O’Connor and rebound in for a sixth Hornets’ goal and a 16th goal of the season for the young striker.

There were stand-out performances all over the pitch – debutant Adam Gallichan impressed in central midfield  – but only one candidate for ‘Man of the Match’: hotshot Mark ‘Junior’ O’Connor with his nap hand.

Team: Walker, E Sterry, Bateman, Butterick, Nicholls, Pegram, Gallichan, Holdham, Murphy, Wood, O’Connor, R Sterry. Sub not used: Clarke.

Heroic Hornets Beat Saints To Reach Cup Semi-Final

WATFORD IFC reached the IFA National Cup semi-finals for only the third in the club’s history with a gutsy 3-1 triumph away to St Johnstone in Kinross.

The two teams prior to kick-off

The two teams prior to kick-off

Blustery and wet conditions greeted the Internet ‘Orns as they journeyed north after a night out in Edinburgh the previous evening.

After the first quarter of an hour, which saw both teams probing for a first key opening, the game broke into life when a long drop-kick from player-manager Richard Walker in goal cleared the Saints’ defenders’ heads and allowed Tommy Twelves to expertly lob home on the run.

The Watford forward scored another almost immediately – and this was all his own work. Having chased a ball into the left channel, options looked limited but Twelves set his sights on goal and let fly with a fizzing half-volley from a tight angle which ripped across the keeper and into the roof of the St Johnstone net.

But rather than having the luxury of preserving a two-goal lead in the second half, it was the protection of a one-goal advantage that became key after Watford let in a soft goal at a corner just before the break.

And it was all hands to the pump in the Hornets’ box with some remarkably determined defending from the likes of Cleveland Brandy, Matt Ainsley and player-coach Maurice Clarke during several spells of Saints’ pressure.

Walker was everywhere inside the six-yard box, collecting or punching cross after cross interspersed with a couple of fine reaction saves.

And this team display of defensive belligerence meant that a third Watford goal would likely kill the tie.

It came no more than 10 minutes from time. Tireless work from Lamar St-cyr,  paired up front later in the game with ‘Man of the Match’ Twelves, helped work an opening for Ben Pegram who slotted home with a low finish inside the near post.

The woodwork was tested at both ends as the sides traded late blows in search of that coveted last-four place, but it was the Internet ‘Orns who capped a superb trip north of the border to set up a semi-final tie against Rochdale.

Preston B or Livingston GS will play for the right to face the winners at the IFA National Cup Final.

Squad: Walker, Brandy, Ainsley, Clarke, Stone, Simmons, Pegram, Nicholls, Booth, Murphy, St-Cyr, Twelves. Sub not used: Beck.

On the march with Walker’s army

WIFC are making final preparations for their trip north of the border to face PSJ Saints, the St Johnstone fans team, in the quarter-finals of the IFA national cup tomorrow. It’s been 8 years since the Internet ‘Orns have visited Scotland, which has always been a hotbed of IFA football. As the intrepid group try to figure out how to get deodorant onto a plane, we bring you a rough guide on what to expect from the game and the travelling party..

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The Opposition
Long standing members of the IFA, PSJ currently sit halfway in the Scottish League table, though they have plenty of games in hand on the sides above them. While playing new teams is always a trip into the unknown, 7 wins from their 12 league games, a 12-4 win against Cambridge in round one and 24 goals so far this season for leading scorer Dale Walker suggest a tough task ahead for the Internet ‘Orns, in what is the first ever meeting between the sides.

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The Plan
Flying up on Friday afternoon, the squad will not quite be enjoying the same type of aircraft as the big boys but are sure to avail of the facilities at the airport, With a night out in Edinburgh planned, much depends on how the hangovers are for the match on Saturday morning.. just as one would expect on a WIFC trip away. Singing voices at the ready..

The Squad
A great mixture of newer players taking their first tentative steps onto a WIFC away trip and old slags to lead the way..

Matt Ainsley
Apps 213, Goals 12
Now firmly in the veteran category at 43. Will be at the centre of any night out fuck-wittery. Keep him away from sambuca and straws, and don’t take up his invites for a punching competition.
Tom Beck
Apps 66, Goals 1
Fixtures guru, fan of obscure bands and German football. Most likely to be found trying to steer his team-mates away from rough women.
Rob Booth
Apps 0
Debutant, having long been badgered to play by manager and best-mate Richard Walker. A company director, WFC Season ticket holder and all round good bloke who likes to avoid tackling these days.
Cleveland Brandy
Apps 6, Goals 1
One of 4 in their first full seasons with the club. Avid collector of nicknames, C-Dog will wear white socks on the night out and look uncannily like a young Trevor McDonald.
Richard Murphy
Apps 271, Goals 64
Ahhh Murphy, you crazy old goat… my brief here is to write a ‘what to expect’ sentence or two for all players. 13 years since his debut and I’m still utterly unable to predict. Apart from stepovers. And unicorn noises.
Stuart Nicholls
Apps 101, Goals 30
A massive disappointment to all who know him. Can play anywhere on the pitch with equal ineffectiveness. Great bloke, huge nose. Will dress appallingly for the night out.
Ben Pegram
Apps 35, Goals 10
Yes, Ben. Just the 10 goals. Another top bloke with terrible dress sense. Won’t pass the ball and will probably shoot instead, even if playing at full-back.
Lamar St-Cyr
Apps 6, Goals 2
2nd of the first season wonders. Much like his mentor Cleveland, highly likely to wear white socks on the night out. Quiet and quick
Brad Simmons
Apps 50, Goals 2
Sole representative of the 1881 in WIFC ranks, so will be expected to lead the singing. Teen-wolf lookalike, will reliably try and pull anything that moves. If he fell into a bucket of tits, he’d come out sucking his thumb.
Rob Stone
App 51, Goals 2
Injured all season but coming back just at the right time. Meeting us up there, so rumours of a bad case of bird may prove unfounded after all. Looks like Bale. Gareth, not Christian.
Tommy Twelves
Apps 3, Goals 1
Another of the first season boys. Best name in WIFC history. Wears a Watford shirt to work under his clothes and probably will on the night out. Terrible hair.
Charlie Wood
Apps 13, Goals 7
4th of the first seasoners. Has flown under the radar banter-wise, your reporter hopes to see that change this weekend. Lots of middle names.
Maurice Clarke – Player/Coach
Apps 63, Goals 3
Absolute legend and still a powerhouse on the pitch in his late 40s. Drunk Lemsip and Rum throughout recent trip to Sunderland. Will be the best dressed and best dancer on the night out, as always.
Richard Walker – Player/Manager
Apps 94, Goals 10
Gaffer. Shouty. Ebullient. Just some of the words to describe Rich. Will wear flat cap on night out and channel his inner Chas and Dave. Two more words – Music Man. Be ready!
Chris Davis – Transport Logistics Officer
Apps 16, Goals 3
Former manager, led WIFC to London Cup glory in 2013. Club treasurer and huge influence on the club. Will bore your tits off talking about some game v Dulwich in the dim and distant.
Dave Messenger – Media Officer
Apps 166, Goals 2
Non-player, walking a marathon on Tuesday (justgiving.com/david-messenger1) Arguably the most important figure in WIFC history. Undisputedly club’s best looking player ever. Modest. Will fall asleep in the nightclub or a curry.

 

Late equaliser extends unbeaten run

ON a cold and blustery morning in south west London, WIFC fought out a respectable 3-3 draw with AFC Wimbledon and extended their unbeaten run against the hosts A team to 13 games. A waterlogged pitch resulted in a last minute venue change, which saw the game played in the leafy London suburb of Barnes.
The strong wind and difficult pitched caused the Internet ‘Orns problems from the off, as the home side gradually took control of the first half. Despite being on the back foot, Watford defended will and protected stand in keeper Michael De Crescenzo from most of the direct action. Wimbledon used the conditions well and surprisingly proving to be a significant aerial threat. They caused problems from each of their numerous free kicks and corners, and it was of no surprise when they finally found the net late in the half.
Up until then the visitors, deployed a 3-5-2 formation, had found possession in the opposing half difficult. As we have seen before conceding a goal caused an immediate reaction, and the equaliser came within 5 minutes. A long throw from Ben Pegram caused havoc in the Dons penalty area, and Mark O’Connor was on the spot to drill home his 11th goal of the season.
Watford started the second well. Now on the front foot and closing down the opposition higher up the field, it was Wimbledon ‘s turn to struggle in possession. It took less than 10 minutes to take the lead as O’Connor picked the centre half’s pocket just over the halfway line and carried the ball to the edge of the box. In a two on one situation, he found his strike partner Joel Moody, who slipped it past the goalkeeper to put the golden boys in front.
In full control now, Watford threatened but were unable to add to the score. However concentration seemed to wander, and Wimbledon came back into the game. They equalised after their aerial dominance returned, netting from a rebound after heading against the bar. Then with 15 to go, they took the lead again following a mix up between De-Crescenzo and Ben Bateman, the latter getting the final touch to a low cross.
Going all out for and equaliser, Watford regained their previous dominance but could not find the net. With seconds to go, Pegram’s corner was knocked back into the 6 yard box by late substitute Moz Clarke, and touched home by Charlie Wood. There was only enough time to kick off before the final whistle went.
It was not one of our most fluent performances, but there was plenty of grit against good opponents. A draw was fair for both sides in the end and a return fixture later in the season would be an entertaining watch.
Team. 3-5-2, R to L
Mike De-Crescenzo; John Sitkowski, Ally Hill, Ben Bateman; Cleveland Brandy, Charlie Wood, Stuart Nicholls, Richard Murphy, Ben Pegram; Joel Moody, Mark O’Connor. Subs Dave Sitkowski, Moz Clarke.

Battling WIFC seal narrow win

A GRITTY second-half rearguard action from WIFC saw them hang onto a hard-earned lead to defeat doughty opposition in MK Dons 4-3 at Woodside – and, in doing so recorded their 9th win of the season.

Ross Connor had the hosts ahead inside a minute, stealing in between goalkeeper and centre-back to pinch possession and slot home his 4th goal of the season in efficient manner.
And it was 2-0 from the penalty spot some 20 minutes later when Joel Moody converted his first goal since returning from long-term injury, having picked himself up from being upended while trying to waltz past a handful of Dons’ challenges inside the box.
Richard Walker replaced the injured Jez Hinds in goal and was soon reaching for the ball from his own net after a breakaway reply from the Milton Keynes visitors halved WIFC’s advantage on the stroke of half-time.
Man-of-the-Match Charlie Wood, who received the stand-in prize of the Ayr United pennant in the absence of its Morecambe counterpart, was everywhere in central midfield for Watford – and it was from his 15-yard shot that Mark O’Connor pounced to stab home his 10th goal of an impressive debut season from the rebound, to make it 3-2 around 15 minutes into the second half.
That came after a Dons’ leveller with WIFC caught out by a hopeful free-kick forward. The flight of the ball evaded centre-half Paul Watt and left the visiting striker with a simple tap-in.
The Internet ‘Orns restored their two-goal cushion thanks to a fine free-kick delivery from wide which was powered home by the head (or possibly nose) of Dave Soloway for his 4th of the season.
But MK Dons weren’t done. And from something like the 20th long throw launched into the Watford box, most of which had been commandingly dealt with by Walker’s come-for-everything policy, the WIFC keeper could only palm out the latest missile to a grateful Dons’ goalscorer.
There were one or two further anxious moments for WIFC as late pressure was applied, but the Hornets hung tough for a win by the odd goal in seven.
Squad (all played): Hinds, Walker, Watt, Maloney, Stone, De Crescenzo, Clarke, Fellas, Butterick, Wood, Murphy, Moody, Soloway, Connor, O’Connor.
Goalscorers: Connor, Moody (pen), O’Connor, Soloway.

Scottish trip awaits for Internet ‘Orns

WIFC will undertake their first journey north of the border for 8 years in the Quarter Finals of the IFA Cup, having been drawn against St Johnstone. The tie, which will take place on Saturday 26th March, is the internet ‘Orns first appearance at this stage since 2011 and manager Richard Walker was delighted with the draw. ‘Travelling for a fixture like this is what the IFA is all about’ said Walker. ‘We’re already making plans and look forward to taking a full team north of the border’

WIFC’s last trip to Scotland saw a marathon journey to Aberdeen for an IFA Cup Quarter Final back in 2008. Goals from veteran trio Martin Owen, Chris Westcott and Martin Pollard weren’t enough to prevent a 3-5 reverse. Halifax were 4-1 winners in WIFC’s last outing at this stage, with Paul Withey scoring the solitary goal.

Availability details will be confirmed via the club’s Facebook group page in due course.

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The intrepid WIFC squad line-up before the 2008 IFA cup Quarter Final in Aberdeen

WIFC secure Cup Quarter-Final berth

Watford IFC booked their place in the Quarter Finals of the IFA national cup this Saturday with a comprehensive 4-0 win over KaisAyr at Parmiter’s School. The home side, recording their first win of the calendar year in the process, took advantage of some hesitant defending to lead one-nil at the break and then stuck manfully to their game plan to add three further goals in the second half.

The two teams line-up

The two teams line-up

Having travelled almost 300 miles on the Friday, before then sampling the local night life on arrival, KaisAyr started the game surprisingly well. Their energetic early approach twice testing the Watford backline but without getting shots away. The Internet ‘Orns soon settled down though and opened the scoring as Ally Hill flicked on a cross field box and, though he’ll tell you otherwise, turned to see a defender get the last touch.

Whilst the yellows pressed for a second, going close with a number of set pieces, KaisAyr fired a warning shot (quite literally) off the face of the crossbar. After breaking with pace their forward cut in and was unfortunate to see his fierce strike cannon back and out for safety.

After playing out the remainder of the first half, the home side continued to press early in the second and were soon rewarded. Daniel Butterick, playing at wing back for the day, crossed for Mark O’Connor to bundle home for 2-0, before Ally Hill slammed home for 3-0. Whilst neither goal was particularly pleasing on the eye they took the wind out of the Scottish visitors and effectively sealed the tie.

At this stage it would’ve been all too easy for the Internet ‘Orns to take their foot off the gas, but with the experienced Walker and Clarke at the back (aided magnificently by all those in yellow ahead of them) that wasn’t an issue. A fourth goal was added in stoppage time too as Ally Hill raced clear, rounded the keeper, and finished well for his second of the game. It confirmed Watford IFC’s passage into the quarter finals of the IFA Cup for the first time since 2011.

Huge credit should be given to KaisAyr who epitomise the ethos of the IFA. They travelled in good numbers, just as they did for a memorable quarter final in 2009, and were a pleasure to deal with throughout. We hope to re-pay their visit later in the season.

Team: Walker, J Sitkowski, Clarke, Hill, Pegram, Butterick, Murphy, Nicholls, Wood, Soloway, O’Connor.

Subs: Holdham, Ainsley (both used).

Year ends on a positive, despite narrow defeat in East London

DESPITE a performance rightly described as ‘heroic’ by manager Richard Walker, Watford IFC’s unbeaten run, standing at eight games since the beginning of September, was ended on the Saturday before Christmas with a 4-3 defeat by Millwall.

The Internet ‘Orns took to the iconic Hackney Marshes with a bare eleven in their 650th game in club history, though did welcome back all time leading goalscorer Rob Sterry for his first appearance of the season. The prolific forward, who now resides in Florida, slotted in at left midfield as he looked to add to his impressive 188 goal tally for the club.

Despite Millwall’s recent results, featuring seven goal hauls against the likes of Preston and Gillingham, it was the away side who would open the scoring. Charlie Wood, a regular scorer in his first full season for the club, dispatched a Mark O’Connor through ball for the first. As Millwall pressed for a first half equaliser they were picked off again – Rich Walker’s audacious free kick finding the top corner from a full 25 yards. It was the player manager’s second impressive strike in successive games. The yellows 2-0 lead at the break owed to a tremendous work rate throughout the squad, with all eleven contributing.

Millwall, perhaps unrewarded for their good build up play in the first half, snatched the initiative back shortly after half time. Their first was headed home after Tom Beck had tipped an initial effort on to the bar, and their second was finished well as Watford failed to clear their lines. It was a dominant fifteen minute spell by the hosts and one which prompted Walker to don the gloves and replace Beck in goal.

This change saw an instant return, to the surprise of many, as Beck promptly headed Watford back in front with his first for the club. The makeshift forward connecting with Wood’s long throw to make it 3-2.

Millwall wouldn’t lie down though and, by throwing men forward, grabbed their second equaliser of the match to make it 3-3. This spurred them on to a fourth, and ultimately decisive goal, late in the game. Despite their battling performance Watford allowed a lively forward too much room and he took his chance well, putting Millwall into the lead for the first time. Watford had late chances of their own with both Stu Nicholls and Ben Bateman testing the keeper, but they couldn’t find a way through.

Team: Beck, Ainsley, J.Sitkowski, Bateman, Nicholls, E.Sterry, Butterick, Walker, R.Sterry, Wood, O’Connor.

Goals: Wood, Walker, Beck.

300th win wrapped up in style

Report by Tom Beck

Watford IFC extended their unbeaten run to eight games, seven of which victories, with a convincing 6-1 away win at Hampton & Richmond IFC this Saturday. The win was also the club’s 300th in all competitions since formation in 1997

The Internet “Orns, fresh from a coveted ‘six point Saturday’ the previous weekend, kicked into strong winds in the first half but dealt admirably with the conditions to lead 1-0 at the break. The opening goal, which owed much to Ben Kelly’s persistence down the left, arrived on the half hour mark with Mark O’Connor slotting home from close range. The effort was the striker’s eight goal in his debut season for the club, pushing him clear in the scoring charts. The away side had chances to extend their lead before the break too, the most glaring of which falling to Ross Connor but the usually clinical striker couldn’t score when well placed.

The second half started in similar fashion and before long WIFC had added a second goal, a Hampton player getting the final touch as a ball was whipped across the six yard box. This was the start of a superb fifteen minute spell for the men in yellow in which they added two further goals. Ben Kelly’s deft touch from a cross field ball made it 3-0 and opened his scoring account for the club, player-manager Rich Walker then curled in the fourth directly from a corner.

The visitors flooded forward in search of further goals but, much to the annoyance of the excellent John Sitkowski at centre back, failed to notice Hampton’s industrious left winger on the break. He finished superbly from the edge of the area to reduce the arrears, notching the goal of the game in the process. The home side came close to a second shortly after, however captain Matt Williams found the side netting with the goal at his mercy. Watford heeded the warning though and removed any doubt about the result with further goals from Stu Nicholls, who tucked away a penalty after O’Connor was fouled in the box, and Ben Pegram’s late strike from an angle, taking his season tally to 4.

Team: Tom Beck; Matt Ainsley, David Sitkowski, John Sitkowski, Stuart Nicholls; Ben Pegram, Dan Butterick, Ben Kelly, Richard Murphy, Ross Connor, Mark O’Connor.

Subs (all used): Richard Walker, Stuart Holdham, Ben Bateman, Brad Simmons.

West Midlands double for Internet ‘Orns

WIFC extended their unbeaten run to 7 games with a six goal win against Walsall, on a cold West Midlands morning. Having taken one of the largest squads to an away game in a long time, all 16 players saw plenty of action. A ten minute spell in the first half effectively settled the outcome and completed the first half of a ‘six point Saturday’ win double thanks to the big boys win at Aston Villa.

Andy Myall was first onto the scoresheet when he collected a fine Richard Murphy pass and finished in style. The lead was doubled almost immediately when a half cleared corner was returned with interest by James Jenkins. Lamar St Cyr then burst in from the right wing to finish from an acute angle. Right on the break, WIFC added a 4th when Tom Smithson connected with Joel Moody’s corner and sent a thumping header into the top corner.

Any hopes of a Walsall comeback in the second half were quickly removed when Myall added a second, tapping home after a goalmouth scramble and Dave Soloway completed the scoring when teed up perfectly by Moody. Keeper Tom Beck then made a fine full length save to ensure his first clean sheet of the season. The whole defence contributed, none less than Matt Ainsley, who put in a man of the match performance as a makeshift centre half and the returning stalwart Paul Labbett.

Team. 4-4-2, R to L. Tom Beck; Cleveland Brandy, Matt Ainsley, Dan Butterick, Ben Pegram; Lamar St Cyr, Richard Murphy, James Jenkins, Andy Myall; Jeremy Hinds, Mark O’Connor. Subs Paul Labbett, Joel Moody, Ed Sterry, Dave Soloway, Tom Smithson.