Woe for Watton

WATTON UNITED suffered their biggest defeat for three years at North Walsham last week, losing 6-1.And it is perhaps testament to the manner of this defeat that goalkeeper, Matt Webster, was the Man of the Match.

WATTON UNITED suffered their biggest defeat for three years at North Walsham last week, losing 6-1.

And it is perhaps testament to the manner of this defeat that goalkeeper, Matt Webster, was the Man of the Match. True, United were without a number of first team regulars with Astbury, Sharpe, Walker and Leggett all absent.

Late call-offs also saw managers Derbyshire and Harwood, forced to name themselves among the substitutes. However, Watton were able to welcome back Rudling after a long lay-off.

In addition, being under-strength is a situation that they have had to deal with in several of their 11 matches so far this season. But in this game, it truly showed.

Nevertheless, having got their noses in front and performed well for much of the first half, Watton will have been disappointed with the way in which they ultimately capitulated. North Walsham enjoyed most of the early play and created a couple of opportunities. Webster made one particularly smart stop when a slip at the back saw Town's No 10 allowed to run clear. Gradually though, Watton found their feet and began to turn the game in their favour.

There were half-chances for Rudling and Bloomfield before first Nichols and moments later Allibone drew good saves from the home goalkeeper. Indeed Rudling followed in Allibone's effort but the keeper recovered to make a third excellent stop.

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Subsequent corners led to some further worrying moments for the Walsham defence and finally the visitors were able to edge in front on 21 minutes.

Bloomfield reacted quickest to net his eighth goal of the season from close-in after a scramble in the penalty area. United were enjoying by far their best spell of the game at this point and were playing some good football. However, on 32 minutes North Walsham levelled having won a corner on the counter-attack.

Watton went to sleep and allowed the home side's No 8 to wander into the penalty area unchecked and he drove in a low shot which beat Webster and the desperate efforts of Callaghan to clear off the line. And just seven minutes later United found themselves behind after a North Walsham player's run into the box was again not picked up and he slotted home from a fine cross-field ball played in behind the back four.

Watton's cause was not helped by a head injury to Callaghan which took some time to patch-up and left them with only 10 men for a spell. But to lose two goals from basic marking mistakes when they had worked hard to gain control of a difficult match was clearly unsettling for the players.

Bosses Derbyshire and Harwood attempted to rally the team at half-time by reminding them of what had been, overall, a decent display.

However, within 10 minutes of the restart United went 3-1 down when North Walsham's No 9 was allowed to twist and turn his way into space on the edge of the visitors' box before squaring for a colleague to fire home.

Smart was replaced at this point by Clarke, with Harrison dropping back into central defence and Rudling pushing forward alongside Nichols. But just minutes later it became 4-1 to the home side when another of their players was given the freedom of the Watton penalty area - and the game was lost.

United tried to react but were being over-run in midfield. And by the time Derbyshire came off the bench to replace the mildly concussed Callaghan, with 12 minutes remaining the visitors were 6-1 behind. Watton can have few complaints either as Webster had made a string of fine saves in between to deny North Walsham further goals. At the whistle, manager Derbyshire was philosophical about the second half showing. “We were under-strength today and there was no disguising that fact,” he said. “North Walsham are a decent passing side and they worked hard in midfield too. They also have two strong forwards and on the whole, we struggled to cope in the second-half on a very heavy pitch.

“Everyone is naturally disappointed to have lost by such a margin,” Derbyshire went on, “because Watton don't lose games in that way. Unlike last season, we have suffered several defeats in this campaign but generally, the games have been tight and we have lost only by the odd goal. We just have to look at this as our lowest point of the season and take things onwards and upwards from here. And I firmly believe that we can do that.”

In other results Watton Reserves edged closer to the promotion places in Division with their four straight league win against Aylsham wanderers Reserves. Goals from Andrew Griffith (2), Mark Allibone (2) and Kavan Mcullagh secured all three points against a youthful Aylsham team. Watton A also secured a comprehensive 6-0 win under the new management duo of James Lain and Nicky Thomas again Yaxham Reserves.