Hornets show class to sting Saints

Howard Hall puts the pressure on. Picture: Leigh Page

Howard Hall puts the pressure on. Picture: Leigh Page - Credit: Archant

A strong Watford side cruised to a comfortable 5-0 win over the Saints on a hot afternoon at Clarence Park.

In front of a healthy attendance of 1,688, St Albans started the match brightly, and had the first attempt on target with a just a minute on the clock, when trialist Warren McBean found himself in space on the edge of the box, and unleashed a curling strike which ex-Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Heruelho Gomes saved easily.

Lloyd Dyer, a new arrival at Vicarage Road, was released with seven minutes on the clock, and chested it calmly 15 yards out, but he wasted the opportunity by putting it wide of the Clarence Park Road end goal, before Ranegie did the same a minute later.

With 13 minutes gone, the visitors opened the scoring. Ranegie played the ball through to Scottish International Ikecha Anya, and the wide man had no hesitation in beating Tom Coulton with a powerful strike.

Despite some early pressure, it took until the half hour mark for the Saints to record another shot on target, but Sam Corcoran’s curling effort from distance floated past Gomes’ post.

Ranegie, often involved in the build-up play, came close to scoring his first of the afternoon, but Tom Coulton, City’s young back-up ‘keeper got down well to deny him with his legs.

The Hornets seemed to get a lot of joy throughout the game down the right hand side, and their second goal came through this out-let. Young full-back Tommie Hoban exchanged a one-two, before his cross was met by the head of Rangie, and the striker made no mistake in finding the back of the net.

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It was quickly three, when Joel Ekstrand’s header took a deflection off of Lee Chappell on the line and squirmed under Coulton. It was no less than the Hornets deserved at the break.

Watford made a number of changes at half time, including the introduction of the likes of Jonathon Bond, Lloyd Doyley and Diego Fabbrini. The Saints, meanwhile, made just one change, which saw trialist Jack Ward come on for fellow trialist Elliot Buchanan.

As the second half progressed, both sides made various personnel changes as the heat began to take its toll on those who had started the game. John Frendo came on in place of Lee Clarke, while two of Watford’s main strikers, Troy Deeney and Matej Vydra, came on around the hour mark.

Trialist Jack Ward had St Albans’ best chance of the of the second half, which came in the 67th minute, when, after a good spell of play, he received the ball in the area and unleashed a thumping strike which Bond did well to palm away.

It was however soon four for Watford, as Vydra’s pass found substitute Battocchio, and he skilfully lifted the ball over Coulton, who didn’t stand a chance of saving it.

Battocchio grabbed his second, and the Hornet’s fifth of the afternoon just two minutes later after a Deeney pass with the outside of the boot released the midfielder, and he beat the City goalkeeper with ease.

James Gray and Graham Golds will be pleased that their side had the better of the play in the final ten minutes, but will be disappointed that they could not score a consolation, with two good chances for trialist Max Lette-Jallow sailing wide of the Watford goal.

It was an afternoon dominated by Beppe Sannino’s Watford side, but with the likes of James Comley, Ben Martin and Joe Welch all missing for the Saints, the management will take heart that they were able to give large numbers of the squad playing time as the new season approaches.

St Albans: Coulton; Kyriacou (Jallow 72), Ward (Kaloczi 78), Locke (Bola 78), Chappell; Corocoan; Green (Hall 72); Wales (Taylor 63), Clarke (Frendo 55), McBean (Pires 63), Buchanan (Jack Ward HT).

Watford: Gomes (Bond HT); Hoban (Doyley HT), Tamas, Ekstrand (Angella HT), Pudil (Johnson 60). McGugan (Deeney 60), Andrews (Battocchio 55), Abdi (Tozser HT), Anya (Smith 72), Ranegie (Vydra 55), Dyer (Fabbrini HT).

Subs not used: Gartside.

Referee: Charles Breakspear.

Attendance: 1,688.