Second half spree seals big win

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.

Pompey re-union ends in rare goalless draw

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.

Beck bids farewell in Beavers goal bonanza

TOM BECK made the perfect exit from the regular Watford IFC squad, signing off with a striker’s goal as he heads for a permanent work contract in Germany. In a chance-a-minute goalfest at Parmiter’s School, Watford IFC record a welcome first win of the 2017/18 season against the spirited visitors from Hampton & Richmond.

Three goals within the first 20 minutes of the match effectively set the tone for a relatively comfortable home success for the Hornets over the Beavers.

Mike Viney notched his maiden WIFC goal when he headed home Richard Walker’s corner, then two clinical finishes from striker Mark O’Connor had Watford firmly in control, but Hampton hit back from a free-kick to make it 3-1 at half-time.

Charlie Wood’s clinical strike made it four with a top-corner bullet, and Walker hit the crossbar before Hampton scored again. Stuart Nicholls’ cross then caused a fifth, when his far-post delivery cannoned back from the post and then in off the hapless Beavers’ keeper.

The visitors made it 5-3 with a scrambled effort from a corner, but there was still time for Beck to shine before his move to the European mainland. Beck latched onto a through-ball, held off his man and then – like a good striker would – drilled the ball across the goalie and into the far corner of the net.

He was immediately subbed, albeit with only 15 minutes left, for his brazen temerity in firing home – very much out of keeping with his usual habit of close-range headed goals!

Ally Hill, moving out of goal for the game’s last portion, stroked home a Hornets’ seventh when he finished off the move of the match involving Matts Ainsley and Ladell, Joel Moody, O’Connor and Wood.

Hampton are always good-natured opposition and this encounter was no different, with the Beavers putting up a fine show despite having just the bare 11.

Watford’s Man-of-the-Match award went to the composed defending of John Sitkowski.

Watford: Ally Hill; Matt Ladell, Mike Viney, John Sitkowski, Matt Ainsley; Joel Moody, Richard Walker, Stuart Nicholls, Richard Murphy; Mark O’Connor, Tom Beck (C). Subs used: Adam Gallichan, Charlie Wood.

Late rally denies a winning start

THREE Stevenage goals in the last five minutes of a competitive opening fixture of season 2017/18 denied Watford IFC a first-day win – and it was harsh on the hosts who led for most of the contest.

The Internet ‘Orns settled the quicker, thanks in part to a first-half lead courtesy of Mark O’Connor – but Boro replied within 15 minutes after a defensive lapse let in their striker to stroke home.

But Watford rallied, enjoying the lion’s share of possession, and went into the break 3-1 to the good thanks to two headed goals by skipper Ally Hill.

The first came direct from a far-post Stuart Sperinck flag-kick delivery and then, 10 minutes later, Sperinck was fed the ball after his own half-cleared corner and found Hill again with a deft outside-of-the-boot cross.

One of two debutants, Matt Mesiano, headed home for a fourth midway through the second 45 after a penalty box scramble saw the ball loop up kindly into his path. The other maiden appearance came from Mike Viney, who took the Man of the Match accolade for his sterling and rugged work down Watford’s right channel.

With the game never quite dead, it would nevertheless have been hard to foresee a three-goal comeback for the visitors.

Yet they took heart from making it 4-2 with five minutes left. And when they got a third with a minute on the watch, Watford’s set-piece vulnerability cost them in injury-time to force a case of shared spoils when the full-time whistle blew not even 60 seconds later.

Hornets: Neil Hall; Cleveland Brandy, Ally Hill (c), Ben Bateman, Matt Ainsley; Adam Gallichan, Stuart Holdham, Tom Davison, Connor Church; Mark O’Connor, Charlie Wood. Subs used: Mike Viney, Matt Mesiano, Stuart Sperinck, Max Walters, Richard Walker.

New badge revealed..

WIFC are delighted to reveal an updated club badge to celebrate the 20th birthday of the club…

The new badge..

Replacing the shield badge that’s been used for the last ten years, the design is intended as an evolution of past badges, with the familiar sliding tackle logo, first used in the 1980’s by Watford FC, still present and updated.

We will soon launch a range of t-shirts, shorts and other sporting goods with the new badge, available for all players past and present to order.

WIFC – the first games…

Early May 1997… Tony Blair had just been elected Prime Minister, Princess Diana started knocking around with Dodi Fayed, Channel 5 was launched, Radiohead were about to release their seminal ‘OK Computer’ album while no one, ever, had heard of Kasabian, Brexit, Cheryl Cole, Troy Deeney or WIFC. On one count, that was all about to change.

A year previously, a message was sent to the Watford mailing list, still in it’s own infancy, from a team representing QPR. They had taken part in a tournament called EuroNET ‘96, which was held in Nottingham. Graham Kelly, the then chief of the FA, was publicly sceptical about the ability of English football supporters to behave themselves during the Euro96, so through the use of Email lists and other internet based discussion groups, EuroNET had been organised to prove him wrong.

A game against QPR was organised by a Watford fan called Andy Barnard. Among those who volunteered to play were Aidy Spender and Simon Devon.  The game was due to be played at Wormwood Scrubs around Christmas time, but the weather intervened and the game was called off. Before it had even started, WIFC had died on the vine and the trail went dead until a few months later, when another message was sent to WML asking if Watford were interested in entering a team into EuroNET ‘97.

With Andy Barnard having moved to Tibilisi a new volunteer was required. Aidy was working and living in Essex during a year out from Uni, and he decided to take up the request.  “I basically just mailed saying I was up for trying to put a team together and seeing who else was interested” says a modest Spender. From that small acorn, a mighty oak began to grow and a game against Colchester was arranged with the help of Simon Devon, who sorted a pitch at Hatfield Uni, where he was a student.

Simon Devon’s calendar showing the dates that mattered..

Having suffered a postponement first time round, WIFC were now thwarted by the other bete noire of the amateur football team. “So we all met up and Colchester didn’t show” recalls Devon. “It was no real problem, as it at least meant we could meet each other and learn names this time! Among the people there that day were myself, Aidy, Mowen, Miles Jacobson, Julian Carrera, Paul Labbett, Jon Parry, ‘Dr’ Dave Perahia and Ian Lay.” Those players were to form the nucleus of the team that was entered into EuroNET ’97.

With the tournament looming, games were needed and at the third attempt, WIFC finally got off the ground with a visit to Arsenal on Saturday 18th May 1997. The game was played on an astroturf pitch in Caledonian Road, Holloway and ended in a 1-5 reverse against a side that had been together for a few years by then. Julian Carrera had the honour of scoring the first WIFC goal while the team included those already noted, and also saw the WIFC bow of Pete Fincham, despite a car crash on route the venue.

The first home game soon followed, as QPR travelled over to Hatfield on a windy day. Mowen scored a possibly wind-assisted 30 yarder, but QPR ran out 4-1 winners. WIFC finally notched a win against Fincham’s Sunday side, Headstone. Unfortunately, complete records weren’t kept at the time so the scorers in a 7-4 victory are lost in the addled memories of those involved. With preparations complete, the intrepid WIFC trailblazers set of for Middlesbrough, host of EuroNET ’97, in fine spirits.

The first team picture – WIFC’s trail blazers in the Rookery Stand before Euronet 97..

Changing Places glory for the Internet ‘Orns

WATFORD IFC collected their first silverware since 2013 at a sunny Stadium MK yesterday, with a tournament win in the MKDSA Changing Places Challenge Cup. The 5 team tournament, organised superbly by the MK Dons team, was held to raise funds for a Changing Places facility at the stadium, which will enable disabled people who cannot use standard accessible toilets, such as those with with profound and multiple learning disabilities, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, as well as older people, to enjoy matches at the stadium in comfort.

In the group stages of the 11 a side tournament, WIFC met Northampton first up.. with only 25 mins for each match the emphasis was on taking chances, but the Internet ‘Orns spurned a good number, including three woodwork strikes, before Tommy Twelves smashed home a winner with 2 mins to spare. The second game against the hosts was a more comfortable affair, with an early Twelves goal and a Stu Nicholls penalty securing a second win.

A stout defensive display saw a goal-less draw with Stevenage secured in the third game, with keeper Neil Hall in commanding form and while Twelves and Mark O’Connor both missed chances to make the final group game academic, the feeling in the camp was positive going into the last group game against Crawley needing a point to confirm a place in the final. WIFC duly took all three thanks to a fine 15th goal of the season from Mark O’Connor.

The final saw a re-match with Crawley, who had battled to the final with 11 men standing. Charlie Wood, back from 4 months travelling, opened the scoring with Twelves adding a second. All looked on course until Crawley finally punctured the Internet ‘Orns tournament clean sheet with 10 minutes to play, but any thoughts of a comeback were ended by Twelves straight from the re-start. With Crawley tiring and WIFC able to bring on fresh legs, O’Connor and Ben Kelly gave the scoreline a flattering hue with a goal apiece.

Stand-in manager Dave Messenger was delighted with the team spirit and effort shown throughout the day. “We defended brilliantly across the 125 minutes of football, and every member of the squad contributed to a memorable tournament win” enthused Messenger. “We were clinical in front of goal and kept the ball well all day. Best of all, the day was a huge success and it was great to see over £2000 raised for the MKDSA fund. We wish them all the very best with their future fund-raising for this important cause”

Squad: Neil Hall; Matt Ainsley, Ally Hill, John Sitkowski, David Sitkowski, Warren White, Stuart Nicholls (C), Matt Ball, Dave Messenger; Richard Murphy, Ben Kelly, Tom Davison, John Machin, Vince Machin, Charlie Wood; Tom Beck, Tommy Twelves, Mark O’Connor, Marc Duffy.

Results
Northampton
W 1-0
Twelves

MK Dons
W 2-0
Twelves, Nicholls (Pen)

Stevenage
D 0-0

Crawley
W 1-0
O’Connor

Crawley – Final
W 5-1
Wood, Twelves 2, O’Connor, Kelly

Hornets and Hammers share the spoils

A TYPICALLY pulsating encounter with old adversaries West Ham ended in a 3-3 draw for Watford IFC at a blustery Woodside, as Matt Ainsley marked his 44th birthday by skippering the Internet ‘Orns.

The Irons started much the brighter and deservedly took the game by the scruff of the neck with two goals inside the first 25 minutes. It left Watford facing an uphill task yet – spurred on by the combative central midfield duo of Derek Payne and James Jenkins – they weren’t about to accept their fate.

That said, it was the Hammers who gifted the Hornets a lifeline when an innocuous back-pass bobbled over the visiting keeper’s swipe and dribbled apologetically into the bottom corner of the West Ham net.

Just 2-1 down at half-time gave the hosts hope, but another sluggish start to a half cost Watford a third goal against and an uphill battle looked firmly on the cards – both mentally and literally, working their way up the Woodside slope.

But battle back they did, with player-manager Richard Walker combining to good effect up front with Mark O’Connor to push the Hammers back and earn some territorial advantage – and fellow subs Adam Gallichan and Lamar St-Cyr providing much-needed impetus.

The pressure told on 70 minutes when Walker curled a delightful strike up over the wall and inside the near post from a 20-yard free-kick.

The goal of the game came eight minutes later when Jenkins burst forward from midfield, exchanged a one-two with O’Connor, then stabbed the ball past the outrushing goalkeeper.

A couple of late opportunities could have sent the win either way but both sides shook hands on a hard-fought and worthy draw.

David Morren was in fine form at left-back, however he was pipped to the man-of-the-match award by Payne; the absence of the MoM Onesie denying him the chance to perform co-commentary duties at Vicarage Road in the XXL outfit.

Team: Tom Beck; Matt Ainsley (c), Stuart Holdham, Stuart Nicholls, Dave Morren; Ed Sterry, Derek Payne, James Jenkins, Max Walters; Lee Stiles, Joel Moody. Subs: Lamar St-Cyr, Phil McBride, Adam Gallichan, Mark O’Connor, Richard Walker.

Melson secures nervy win

THE Internet ‘Orns edged out their counterparts from Coventry by two goals to one after one of the most keenly-fought and enjoyable IFA matches for many a month.

City started much the brighter and would’ve punished Watford for their sloth had it not been for the first few of a string of outstanding saves from Hornets’ man-of-the-match, goalkeeper Kristian Melson.

Against the run of play at Woodside, the hosts were ahead thanks to an piece of skill from the unlikely source, Andy Myall. Finding himself in possession at the left-hand corner of the Sky Blues’ penalty area, he nutmegged his marker before curling a cross with the outside of his right foot to the far post where Adam Gallichan slid in to volley home his first goal for the club from close-range.

Benefiting from debutant Derek Payne’s influence in central midfield, Watford were the better side for the first 30 minutes of the second period, during which they doubled their advantage when player-manager Richard Walker floated an inch-perfect cross into the box for Dave Soloway to nudge home with his shin.

Payne’s fellow debutant Phil Myall had the chance to put the game out of sight but, after a great save saw Adam Gallichan’s volley pushed onto the crossbar, he could only nod a golden chance wide of the mark.

Coventry rallied gamely and pulled a goal back with eight minutes remaining – setting up a nervy rear-guard action from the Internet ‘Orns, capped in the game’s final minute when Melson plunged smartly at his near post to deny the Sky Blues an equaliser.

Team: Kristian Melson; Ed Sterry, Ben Bateman, Ally Hill (c), Matt Ainsley; Max Walters, Stuart Holdham, Derek Payne, Andy Myall; Dave Soloway, Phil Myall. Subs: Liam McGarry, Lee Stiles, Richard Walker.