Conditions and Cobblers beaten amid cameos and chaos

RAIN-DRENCHED and mud-soaked, Watford IFC ran out 5-1 winners away to a spirited Claret Shoemakers side on a tiny pitch in the village of Cogenhoe.

It was a match which saw all the thrills & spills of good-natured Internet FA games in atrocious conditions and, for WIFC, the highlights included two debuts and a worrying three-minute cameo!

The Northampton Town fans’ team went ahead after 18 minutes, thanks to a mix-up in the Hornets’ rear-guard involving stand-in starting keeper Adam Gallichan. It left the Cobblers’ striker with an empty net to tap into with the visitors still trying to adjust to the going described as “Soft; Heavy in places” but some hardy souls stood in support on the touchline.

Upon his 50th appearance for the club, Matt Ladell was denied a quick-fire equaliser via a superb reflex save from the centre-half’s downward header.

But eight minutes before the break, Watford were level. Christian Frater got a toe to a cross from the right, diverting it into the path of Mark O’Connor, who flicked the ball home low into the far corner.

Level at the break, WIFC heeded the words of advice to keep the ball moving wide as often as possible. And, after a determined period of pressure from the hosts, Tom Labbett lifted home from 12 yards – the first of what would be a four-goal second-half salvo from the travelling Hornets.

Frank Smith followed in to tap home a rebound after Tom Labbett had seen his low shot saved and spilled by the Northampton custodian, then Gallichan – having passed the gloves on to Paul Shelock – nearly missed from four yards when O’Connor laid across a perfect low centre. Opening out his foot, Gallichan’s contact went immediately upward but the ball did bounce home off the underside of the crossbar.

Perhaps the most enjoyable part of the game – for not only purely footballing reasons – came within the final 12 minutes…

Dave Messenger entered the fray at left-back, but left the fray after less than three minutes of action. After a heavy challenge, a shortness of breath forced him to be replaced. It was nothing serious – simply 75-odd minutes stood getting cold & wet in the rain had taken its toll on the WIFC Hall-of-Famer.

Then the goal of the game, Watford’s fifth: a peach of a far-post cross delivered by Tyrone Brandy was swept home on the volley eight yards out by the marauding David Sitkowski. It was a goal far too good for the conditiions.

There was still time for a second debut of the morning, though. Alan Lau had played very respectably at right-back to make his Hornets’ bow, but now it was over to Sophie Lavender to enter the fray. And it was not only five minutes on the pitch but a chance for glory, as well; alas, she spurned a half-chance at the far post by sending the ball high into the trees behind the goal.

An fun morning’s football and a soaking for one and all – but great to get another WIFC fixture in the books. 

Hornets: Adam Gallichan; Alan Lau, John Sitkowski, Matt Ladell (c), Paul Labbett; Christian Frater, Frank Smith, Paul Shelock; Alby Salvidge, Ben Kelly, Romeo Brandy.

Subs used: Tyrone Brandy, Mark O’Connor, David Sitkowski, Cleveland Brandy, Tom Labbett, Dave Messenger, Sophie Lavender.

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