A GOAL spree during a much-improved second-half performance put extra gloss on a victory at home to Northampton Town’s Claret Shoemakers IFC; 8-1 the final scoreline as Watford IFC extended their unbeaten start to the 2017/18 campaign.
The visitors to Woodside offered stiff resistance, scoring an equaliser on the counter-attack through Scott Cornelius to send the two sides into half-time level at one goal apiece. Stuart Holdham’s close-range finish off his thigh was all the Internet ‘Orns had to show for long spells of first-half possession, which wasn’t allied to much conviction in the Cobblers’ defensive third of the field.
But after interval urgings to move the ball quicker from player-manager Richard Walker, WIFC responded with a seven-goal salvo – using good passing interchanges to take the game away from Town. Ben Kelly’s industry in forward and midfield areas earned him a brace of goals, while Mark O’Connor will know he should have had more than just a solitary strike to show for some of the positions he found himself in.
Charlie Wood and Man-of-the-Match Richard Murphy grabbed a goal apiece and Adam Gallichan powered home a Walker corner delivery with his head. The manager then turned from provider to scorer with the goal of the game; an exquisite 20-yard chip into the very top corner of the Northampton net.
The morning saw welcome returns to action for the in-love (not with each other) duo of Rob Stone & Jez Hinds, while Paul Shelock was the stand-out performer in a defence which went largely untroubled during the second 45.
Team, 4-4-2: Jez Hinds; Phil McBride, Paul Shelock, Stuart Nicholls (c), Matt Ainsley; Matt Mesiano, Rob Stone, Stuart Holdham, Sol Tomlinson; Charlie Wood, Adam Gallichan. Subs used: Mark O’Connor, Ben Kelly, Richard Murphy, Dayle Littlejohn, Richard Walker.
WIFC would’ve been the happier of the two sides when full-time blew on the most rare of all IFA-related scorelines outside of Worldnet’s shorter matches; the always-unlikely goalless draw.
The two teams gather for a pre kick-off picture..
Hosting the Internet ‘Orns for the first time since the 2006/07 season, Athletico Pompey struck the Watford bar from range during the first 45 minutes but, that apart, although enjoying the majority of possession they were kept largely at arms’ length thanks to a strong defensive display led by Man-of-the-Match Kevin Affleck – in control from centre-half on his debut.
Debutant guest players Reece Gohil, Liam Martin and Chris Marsh in particular all performed admirably as part of what was something of a scratch visitor’s line-up which also included Sol Tomlinson making his maiden appearance for the club – so five new faces in total.
It took until mid-way through the second half for Watford to start to find their passing range and apply some limited pressure to the Portsmouth goal. The best chances of the game fell to Richard Murphy – who lifted the ball over the crossbar as well as the keeper from 15 yards – and Charlie Wood, who steered his header wide from a raking Stuart Nicholls’ set-piece delivery.
Player-manager Richard Walker was relatively busy in goal at the other end, springing to his right to deny Pompey at close-range before the young referee – who handled a good-natured game admirably – called time on the stalemate.
Drinks were taken in the AFC Portchester clubhouse with Portsmouth promising an invite to a summer tournament to be held at Fratton Park.
Team, 4-4-2, R to L; Richard Walker; Reece Gohil, Chris Marsh, Kevin Affleck, Matt Ainsley; Liam Martin, Stuart Nicholls (c), Sol Tomlinson, Cleveland Brandy; Richard Murphy, Charlie Wood. Subs used: Andy Myall, John Sitkowski.