There were reasons for encouragement despite Watford having to settle for a second successive 1-1 draw against non-league opposition at Wealdstone.
Like in the draw at Boreham Wood in mid-week, Gianfranco Zola again chose to field a different line-up in each half but both played the same fluid formation when attacking, varying between 4-1-4-1
Most of Watford’s best work came in a first half that saw Jonathan Hogg and Daniel Pudil catching the eye, with the latter setting up Mark Yeates to score.
Zola’s men kept possession well for periods, looking to vary the angle of attack, with numbers getting forward regularly in attack.
The visitors offered less of an attacking threat after the break and were pegged back by a Wes Parker header from a corner.
But the response to that setback was heartening, with Craig Forsyth, Chris Iwelumo and Matty Whichelow all going close to scoring the winner.
The Hornets created the first chance in the fifth minute when trialist Almen Abdi crossed well from the right but Joe Garner’s stretching header was straight at Rikki Banks.
But the visitors did make the breakthrough in fine fashion ten minutes later when Jonathan Hogg picked out Sean Murray with a fine pass and he in turn fed Pudil to his left. The trialist, who was
looking to get forward at every opportunity, produced a good pull back and Yeates finished emphatically, beating Rikki Banks inside his near post.
The Hornets continued to play positively, retaining possession with numbers getting forward to support Garner, who was effectively the lone striker.
The forward managed to loop a header towards goal before Pudil popped up in a central position in the area but didn’t get enough on his header from a Murray cross.
Wealdstone then had two good chances and really should have been level.
First, Tom Pett stood up a cross from the left side of the area that although Rob Carrick had to stretch to get a foot to the ball, he would still have been disappointed not to hit the target after
dragging his effort back across Jonathan Bond’s goal and wide of the far post.
Striker Peter Dean also looked set to trouble Bond when he connected well with a shot, only to see it hit a team-mate.
The Hornets had lost some of their earlier attacking momentum as the half drew to a close but Yeates, operating in a central role, curled a 25-yard free-kick narrowly wide as the Hornets kept their
one-goal advantage at the break.
It was all change at half-time and hornets keeper Jack Bonham was in the action within 25 seconds of entering the fray and he immediately impressed, making a fine save to keep out Lee Chappell’s
No sooner had Watford almost been pegged back, then they had a fine chance to double their advantage when Forsyth was played in but the opportunity was on his right foot and he dragged it
The visitors had another opening in the 57th minute when Carl Dickinson’s low cross from the left was met by the stretching Whichelow, but he couldn’t generate power enough to beat Banks.
Wealdstone though, were enjoying more possession after the break and they had another opportunity when Chappell got up at the far post to connect with a cross from the right but could only find the
But the home side’s efforts were rewarded 13 minutes from time when Dean’s corner from the left was powered in by the head of skipper Parker at the far post.
However, the Hornets’ response to conceding was good. First, Whichelow had a shot from the right side of the area blocked before Forsyth went close with a stinging drive from outside the 18-yard
Iwelumo was closer still with a header following a cross from Dickinson, who did well after the break, and it was the left-back who nearly set up the winner with two minutes left.
The former Stoke City man’s break down the left ended with a low cross which Forsyth dummied to Whichelow, who did everything right but saw his low drive superbly kept out by Banks.
Wealdstone: Banks; Webb, Parker, Cronin, Chappell; Carrick (A Massey 46), Dyer (Brooks 46), O’Leary (Nicholas 46), Pett (Jordon 60); Dean, Stanislas (Field 73). Not used: Brewer, Papp and
Watford first half: Bond; Hodson, Eustace, Taylor, Pudil; Hogg; G Massey, Abdi, Yeates, Murray; Garner.
Watford second half: Bonham; Bennett, Nosworthy, Mirfin, Dickinson; Jenkins; Whichelow, Hamilton-Forbes, Mingoia, Forsyth; Iwelumo.