Tough game for Watton

Acle United 3, Watton 1THE game on Saturday was affected by the elements even before the kick-off, with the match officials asking both teams if the summer conditions throughout September had made the ground to hard to play on.

Acle United 3, Watton 1

THE game on Saturday was affected by the elements even before the kick-off, with the match officials asking both teams if the summer conditions throughout September had made the ground to hard to play on.

However, after agreeing to play, it was then the high October winds that influenced the fixtures first half play.

The hosts' decision may have initially backfired, as with the wind at their backs, persistently over hit a number of passes straight to Cruikshank, and with Watton's defence standing firm from corners against the gale.

On 30 minutes Watton's passing game engineered a nice move down the centre involving Mark Woods and Taylor, and with the ball again holding up, Allibone stole in, only to see himself felled by opposition goalkeeper.

Bloomfield, as with last week, confidently stroked the ball in the corner to put Watton 1-0 up.

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With only five minutes of the half left, Acle's strikers finally managed to get on the end of a long through ball, with Morgan outpacing Smart to loft the ball over the advancing Cruikshank.

Moments later, with Watton desperately wanting the whistle for half-time, the official instead awarded a controversial penalty against Allibone for alleged hand-ball while defending a free kick.

Watton were unlucky to go in losing, as their battling performance against the elements deserved more, but almost as soon as they returned to the pitch, they found themselves 3-1 down, when a long ball forward was expertly controlled and slotted home.

Within five minutes of the restart an almost identical incident to how Acle received a penalty in the first half went unpunished.

From then on it was never going to be Watton's day, and even with Bloomfield's creativity on show yet again, they gradually gave up all hope of pulling themselves back in the game with a poor display of passing and movement in the final 35 minutes.

Even the introduction Ward to a three-man front line, and 17-year-old Fincham, who has performed well for the reserves in the opening part of the season, didn't create any chances for the visitors, with only McKeever and goalkeeper Cruikshank coming out of the half with any credit.

Manager Harwood conceded afterwards that the second half display was the poorest he had seen in the opening seven league games, but given the conditions last Saturday, would move on to next fixture, a Norfolk Senior Cup fixture away at Mattishall (kick-off 2.30pm).

Watton United 1, Blofield United 1

In this corresponding fixture last year Watton had thrown away a 4-1 lead to lose 5-4 in they dying stages.

It was a very different fixture this time, with a very different set of players, but after a great performance last week at Spixworth, managers Harwood and Hunt had urged their team to carry on their good form.

Blofield enjoyed a lot of possession in the early stages of this game, with the host's seemingly overawed by their more experienced premier division opponents, dwelling on the ball in defensive areas, and misplacing a number of passes straight to opposition.

The visitors took the lead when a needless free-kick was given away 35 yards from goal, and Watton failed to deal with the cross.

However, captain Taylor's presence and strong running from midfield began to offer Watton an outlet, and towards half-time interchanged passes with Bloomfield, who had worked valiantly to try and get Watton back into the game.

He rolled to the unmarked Woods, who had found space on the edge of the area, and when ready to shoot was knocked off balance, and no free kick awarded.

At the half interval, Watton's team debated their first half performance to great lengths, and it was obvious thank this frank exchange of views had spurred Watton into life.

They continued with the pace of the game, with Callaghan showing some nice touches at his unfamiliar left-back position. A great challenge from man-of-the-match Leggett, harshly penalised by the official showed their character in a frantic opening to the second half.

They never gave up, and keeping Blofield within one goal's distance, deservedly levelled the scores 10 minutes from time. Allibone, who had changed his usual game to cope with the more physical nature of Blofield's backline, climbed higher than Skoyles to flick the ball to Bloomfield, who drove down the left and centred, and with Rushbrook failing to clear, Walker pounced and finished clinically from 12 yards.

It was reward for Watton's battling performance, and if the game had gone on 30 seconds longer Walker would have taken a chance to steal all three points, with the referee blowing the final whistle just as he broke clear down the right.

It seemed that even the Blofield players disagreed with the decision, as in an unfortunate end to the evening had two players dismissed on the way back to the changing rooms.

WATTON RESERVES secured their fifth league draw of campaign, and again outlined their willingness to compete in the division four promotion race, staying third after their opening seven games. Finding themselves outplayed in the first half, Watton were 2-0 down at the interval against a physical Mattishall Reserves side. However, with the experience of Griffith in the line-up, starting his first game of the season, they battled back to a 2-2 draw, and perhaps created enough chances to win it, with Nathan Clarke scoring his sixth goal in five games for the Reserves.