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Watton battle with changes

PUBLISHED: 09:42 24 September 2008 | UPDATED: 11:03 08 July 2010

Watton's next league fixture, at home to Brandon Town, will not now take place on Saturday as advertised.

Norfolk FA will be using the Dereham Road pitch so Watton's next fixture is away at Holt in the Senior League Cup on October 4.

Watton's next league fixture, at home to Brandon Town, will not now take place on Saturday as advertised.

Norfolk FA will be using the Dereham Road pitch so Watton's next fixture is away at Holt in the Senior League Cup on October 4.

Sheringham beat Watton 3-1 at home. At the final whistle, Watton manager Mike Derbyshire declared himself a little disappointed with the overall fitness level of his players, whatever the extenuating circumstances.

However, he was generally pleased with their reaction to yet another series of enforced changes.

Joint manager Vince Harwood agreed, insisting that there was no shame in his side's display.

Before the game the United bosses had to make several changes to their line-up, with key players missing.

Although Callaghan and Harrison were able to return to action, neither was fully recovered from injuries each picked up in the second match of the season. Astbury and Sharpe were welcomed back after their holidays but both had to be thrown in when not match-fit.

Under the circumstances, Derbyshire and Harwood decided on a 4-5-1 formation, with Callaghan operating as the makeshift lone striker.

Sheringham are expected to do well this season and against a weakened Watton, they enjoyed most of the initial possession. However, United held up well for much of the first half and on the occasions that the home side did get through their back line, Sheringham's strikers found Watton goalkeeper Matt Webster in sparkling form.

What was disappointing was that United themselves contributed to several of their opponents' opportunities. Smart, Leggett and Mark Woods were all guilty, more than once, of playing suicidal balls across the edge of their own penalty area.

And it was from Woods' attempted pass inside to Leggett on 38 minutes that Sheringham took the lead. Fox was able to nip in and steal the ball and he played in Holmes, who slipped the ball past Matt Webster.

At half-time, having seen their players battling well despite being somewhat under-strength, Derbyshire and Harwood decided to switch to a 4-4-2 line-up - feeling that attack may be the best form of defence. They also wanted to see the ball held up more often going forward to allow Watton's biggest threat of the first-half, Walker, to come more into the game.

So United began the second 45 with Sharpe pushed up alongside Callaghan. But although Watton now looked more solid up front, the excellent Allibone and his central midfield partner Astbury were clearly being overworked.

Derbyshire and Harwood therefore opted for a third formation change, adopting a 3-5-2 line-up. Kenny and Kingsbury were withdrawn from the left with Harrison and Josh Webster coming on. Harrison tucked in alongside Leggett and Smart in a back three and Josh Webster went to the left side of a five-man midfield, with Mark Woods joining Astbury and Allibone in the centre.

And the move paid immediate dividends. Walker was now getting more and more space and on 63 minutes, he raced clear from a lovely lofted through-ball with a square Sheringham back four appealing in vain for offside.

Walker's cross to the far-post was inch-perfect and Sharpe pounced to level the match from close in.

For the next 10 or 15 minutes, United were dominant. Indeed they could and should have gone in front when Callaghan was put through one-on-one with Palmer. However, Callaghan's effort was blocked by the out-rushing Sheringham goalkeeper.

As the game wore on, Watton's players began visibly to tire. MoM Matt Webster was once more proving the main obstacle for the home side but he could do nothing when on 78 minutes, Sheringham sub King danced his way through a fairly static defence to score.

Watton tried to react but with less than a minute remaining, after Derbyshire had been forced to bring himself on for Astbury, who was cramping-up badly, Sheringham sealed the win.

United had thrown everybody forward for a free-kick and when the ball was cleared, it fell to King who ran forward and squared for Holmes to net.

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