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.