Watford beat spirited Saints at packed out Clarence Park

James Comley takes the ball away from Troy Deeney. Picture: Leigh Page

James Comley takes the ball away from Troy Deeney. Picture: Leigh Page - Credit: Archant

Premier League new boys Watford beat a spirited St Albans City 4-0 at Clarence Park tonight.

Odion Ighalo scored twice in the first half and Troy Deeney and Connor Smith added two more in the second to hand the Saints their second straight loss in pre-season.

This performance couldn’t have been further removed from Monday’s 4-0 loss to League Two side Dagenham and Redbridge.

Two days ago, St Albans were poor save for a few performances. Ashley Chambers was allowed to score two easy goals inside 10 minutes and St Albans were thoroughly beaten.

This incarnation of City was much better, defensively stout and had their moments when they could have tested Watford’s goalkeeper, Huerelho Gomes. Twice Lewis Hilliard went close in the first half but he cleared the bar while stretching for a cross from Kieran Bishop and was off-target from the edge of the box.

Unsurprisingly considering the gulf in leagues between the sides, Watford dominated possession and inevitably St Albans’ defence was unlocked. There was nothing the Saints could do about the first two goals - Ighalo reacted to a deflected ball to head past Ashlee Jones and then capped off a fantastic quick passing move by finding the bottom corner.

The third goal, from Deeney, came seconds after Darren Locke did superbly to clear the ball off the line. The ball fell to Watford’s top scorer, who picked his spot and drilled it in the bottom corner. Smith scored a deflected 87th minute goal to add a touch of gloss to the scoreline.

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Apart from that, the defence, led by James Comley, who started both halves at centre-back, held its shape superbly.

Of the new players, Hilliard had an good game, showing the attacking drive that caught the eye while he was at St Neots Town. Billy Medlock had another lively game, and had one good chance, but he was mostly held in check. Jack Lampe missed his second straight game with a chest infection.

The trialists did themselves plenty of favours in earning a spot in the squad. Bishop, given the thankless task of harrying the centre-backs, and Rod Young, in particular, showed a lot of promise and could be real assets this season, if St Albans can sign them.

This was the marquee fixture of St Albans’ pre-season, and the club showcased itself excellently. Thousands of fans packed out Clarence Park to see their teams, and while Watford were undoubtedly the better side, City performed admirably, giving plenty of hope for the season opener on August 8.


Watford: Gomes (GK), Anya, Angella, Cathcart, Pudil, Watson, Capoue, Forestieri, Abdi, Ighalo, Deeney.

St Albans City: first half: Jones, Kyriacou, Chappell, Beckles, Longe-King, Comley, D Green, Allen, Bishop, Hilliard, Young. Subs: Alexander.

Second half: Jones, Hall, Comley, Locke, Corcoran, Richens, Wales, Medlock, Ngoyi, Malcolm. Subs: Alexander