Boreham Wood 0-1 WatfordMeadow Park
IT pays to be flexible when planning trips to pre-season friendlies. At the start of this month I had been looking forward to seeing my favourite two south-eastern teams, Boreham Wood and Enfield Town, meet here at Meadow Park on 12th July. It wasn't to be - due to a change of plan in the meantime, that fixture will now be taking place two junctions clockwise round the M25 at the Towners' Donkey Lane home next Tuesday.
In my native East Midlands, fans of Mansfield Town and Birmingham City were left disgruntled last Friday when their teams' scheduled meeting at One Call Stadium was called off with barely 24 hours notice following police intervention.
And then there was the question of Watford's annual visit to their south Herts neighbours Boreham Wood. It was little more than 72 hours before tonight's kick-off that the news came through that this fixture would be happening at all this summer, and that manager Beppe Sannino would be bringing a first team squad too. (We had already known for some weeks that the Hornets will be hosting Coventry City at Meadow Park on 30th July, but that's another story.)
Details were soon available on both clubs' websites. While doing my pre-match research, I couldn't help but notice that the photograph of Meadow Park's splendid new West Stand which Watford FC used to advertise this fixture looks uncannily like the one I took before the Dorchester Town game last January.
It was a fine summer evening in Borehamwood, with a fresh breeze replacing the particularly sticky conditions of the past week. I opted to watch the first half from the newly-opened West Stand, among a crowd once again dominated by away fans. Plenty wore yellow Watford shirts from various eras; some opted for the Hornet's new Notts County-style away shirt, with its black and white stripes at the front and the all-black back - won't this cause a colour clash with the referee?
Showing their Championship credentials, the visitors generally dominated the opening half-hour. Matej Vydra will have been disappointed to only strike the base of the post when well-placed after 20 minutes, and Ikechi Anya forced a fine save from Wood 'keeper James Courtnage a minute later. It was shortly after the drinks break on the half-hour mark that Lloyd Dyer earned himself a stern talking-to from the referee after diving over Courtnage's outstretched arm.
Wood's second choice 'keeper would later earn some of the loudest applause of the evening when he parried a Vydra shot from Almen Abdi's near-post corner on 62 minutes, and moments later at the other end Graeme Montgomery's 30-yard volley forced Watford's Brazilian stopper Heurelho Gomes into a flying save.
As on Saturday against Arsenal, Wood finally conceded just short of the 70-minute mark. This time Vydra found the net with a deflected shot from the edge of the box, the unlucky Courtnage wrong-footed on this occasion.
The Hornets' ex-Nottingham Forest midfielder Lewis McGugan rattled Wood's crossbar with a rasping drive in the closing stages, but the home team, battling to the end, came close to snatching an equaliser in the last minute when Matty Whichelow, once on Watford's books, dragged a shot just past Gomes' left-hand post.
It had been another good test for Ian Allinson's Boreham Wood squad, who have now played four games in eight days, against Premier League, Championship (twice) and League Two opponents.
Boreham Wood is a club which certainly tries to entice fans to its ground in pre-season every year with a string of home games against clubs from higher divisions. Having already hosted Brentford, a strong Arsenal squad, Cambridge United and Watford, there are still visits from a Reading XI (just 24 hours after the Watford game) and an Arsenal XI to come, (six games in the space of 16 days), not forgetting that Meadow Park is also the venue for that all-Football League fixture between Watford and Coventry City next Wednesday.
If that wasn't enough for the club's staff to deal with, Arsenal Ladies meet Notts County here in a televised game this coming Sunday. With a busy schedule like that, it's unlikely that Wood chairman Danny Hunter will be squeezing in any further fixtures at short notice before the season proper begins on 9th August.