I mentioned in the report on the R’sonists’ trip to Worldnet that their general ethos has always been playing for enjoyment whatever the result. A clear reflection of this was Saturday’s trip to face fans’ team Watford IFC. Nine R’sonists made the trip south, including two debutants Allan Riggall and Glyn Law, for this game to be brought up the full eleven on arrival by ‘Dave’ the cousin of a Watford player, and Claire Hendry, a Watford supporter and friend of mine who not only defected for the day but also became the R’sonists first ever female player in the process.
These far from ideal preparations were hindered further as the players arrived at Watford. Nine of the squad arrived on time, but two players, including player-manager Matt Smith, not to mention the kit, were undertaking an unscheduled mystery tour of Watford at the behest of a faltering sat-nav. Eventually they appeared, but by that time there was no time for a warm-up, team-talk or even introductions before the game kicked-off.
With that in mind its perhaps unsurprising that the Donny team were still learning each others names when Watford took the lead. The home side’s forward found space behind the R’sonists back-line; ‘keeper Dave Burkett did brilliantly to get a strong hand to the first shot, but unfortunately another home player was on hand to turn home the rebound.
One nil very quickly became 2-0 as Watford added a second goal in familiar circumstances. And then just over quarter of an hour in it was 3-0 as full-back Louis Bailey got his head to a left wing cross only to inadvertently divert it into the far corner of the R’sonists net. Bailey made amends minutes later with a timely goal-line block, but it was beginning to look like it could end in a very one-sided scoreline.
However, as the half wore on though Donny began to settle, get to grips with game and find their stride and thanks to some neat play in midfield and attack from Andy Sheldrake, Allan Riggall, Claire Hendry, Matt Smith and Glyn Law were beginning to force a few chances. Donny’s passing game was rewarded ten minutes before half-time as a ball over from the left was controlled excellently by our ringer ‘Dave’ and laid off to Allan Riggall who found the net with an excellent low drive.
Late in the half the R’sonists almost reduced the deficit further as Glyn Law was played in from an up-and-under ball into the box by Alan Cullingworth, but unfortunately the home keeper made an excellent stop and it remained 3-1 at the break.
With players tiring and the heat intensifying its perhaps unsurprising that the football in the second half was not as fluid as the first. And equally unsurprising was the fact that Watford with substitutes and familiarity on their side were creating the better chances. They were particularly strong when breaking down the right and added a fourth goal with a pull-back from this side. Dave Burkett had thwarted an initial attack, but Watford had men over when the ball came back across goal and one of these men made it 4-2.
The crossbar saved the R’sonists from falling further behind, but Donny themselves were starting to force a few chances particularly on the break. Manager Matt Smith almost capped a solid performance with a goal as he meandered into the area only to see his shot locked. However, the R’sonists hard work paid off as they pulled a second goal back as another of the R’sonists debutants, Glyn Law, found space in the Watford box to finish well.
All in all a very enjoyable game against one of the R’sonists’ favoured opposition and an impressive performance from the Donny side considering the make-up of the side and the less than ideal build up. The R’sonists look forward to their next fixture with Watford, and also return to action next Saturday to face Preston.
R‘sonists line up (4-4-2); Dave Burkett; Louis Bailey, Glen Wilson, Alan Cullingworth, Alan Brown (‘Stocksy’); ‘Dave’, Allan Riggall, Andy Sheldrake, Claire Hendry; Glyn Law, Matt Smith