WIFC’s first game of the season, a long distance trek to face IFA league champions Preston, ended in a 1-6 reverse for the Internet ‘Orns but the scoreline doesn’t do justice to the visitors. Having traveled with just 9 men, Preston loaned their striker, Des Wilson, to make an 11v10 game without subs or linesmen allowing WIFC to remain competitive.
Lining up in a 4-4-1 formation, with keeper Jez Hinds playing as a lone striker, WIFC were under pressure from the off. The whole team worked hard to keep the champions at bay, while always looking to keep the ball, which meant WIFC were able to fashion a few half-chances through Dave Soloway and Moz Clarke. However, the pressure took it’s toll and Preston opened the scoring just after the half hour, adding another before the break.
After a swap of loanees, with midfielder Jimmy Atkinson joining the visitors at the break, the second half followed the same pattern. Dogged defending and good use of the ball kept WIFC in the game and further half chances fell to debutant Paul Norgate and Soloway. But tired legs and Preston’s good use of the ball finally combined to see Preston rattle in four quickfire strikes. WIFC got some reward for their efforts in the closing minutes, when man of the match Scott Mathers powerfully headed a Norgate corner into the roof of the net.
Preston’s experienced midfield campaigner Steve Cowell offered praise to the visitors after the match. “There was nothing between the two teams for the first 30-35 mins for me” said Cowell. “But the big pitch and lack of numbers finally took their toll on the lads from Watford, but they never let their heads drop and always tried to play their way out of trouble”.
WIFC: Rich Walker; Dave Messenger, Martin Pollard, Scott Mathers, Phil McBride; Paul Norgate, Dave Soloway, Maurice Clarke, Des Wilson; Jeremy Hinds. Sub Jimmy Atkinson for Des Wilson (HT)
Pics kindly provided by Barry Potter from Northern Rose Photography