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02/03: Reports:

Pre-Season Friendly, 27/07/02
Yeading 3(3)
Scorers: Telemaque, Lee, Miller
Watford 2(2)
Team: Chamberlain, Doyley, Robinson, Gayle, Cox, Dyche, Vernazza, Nielsen, Swonnell, Smith, Foley
Subs: McNamee (for Robinson, 45), Glass (for Vernazza, 53), Johnson (for Swonnell, 60), Hand (for Doyley, 60), Norville (for Foley, 66), Patterson (for Smith, 66)
Scorers: Nielsen, Smith (pen)

What went wrong?
By Dave Messenger

One of the highlights of pre-season is being able to meander down to a local non-league hot-spot, catch up with a few people who you haven't seen during the summer months, enjoy a drink or two and watch our First Division stars torment the living daylights out of a team made up of the proverbial butchers, bakers and candlestick makers.

So what went wrong here ?

Was it the heady mix of the heat, Ray Lewington's pre-match request to the players to "treat this as a friendly" and Allan Nielsen's deflected first minute opener which caused our defence to take their eye off the ball, not to mention the men they were meant to be marking? Let's hope so because in the first half at Yeading, our defending was decidedly ugly. Lloyd Doyley, a player with a willingness to learn, was caught out once or twice, as was the normally reliable Neil Cox. Sean Dyche, looking as much like Phil Mitchell as any footballer possibly could, also appeared hesitant on occasion when a good old fashioned clout was needed. The left hand side looked slightly better, with Gayle seeming at home as the left of three central defenders and Robbo as tough and committed as you'd expect.

Yeading were soon back on terms as former Stevenage bruiser Errol Telemaque was left unmarked for the equaliser. So was Dwane Lee some ten minutes later, as he put Yeading in front with a tidy finish past Chamberlain. The prolific Matt Miller, thirty-three goals to his name last season according to the locals, took advantage of a mix-up between Dyche and Gayle to prod home the third, much to the delight of his girlfriend, who seemed almost as interested in fanzine snapper Simon Devon as she was in her man. Tommy Smith's penalty, after a foul on Nielsen just before the break, brought a respite from a nasty looking scoreline.

However, this was pre-season and it should be noted that following a half-time chat, the whole defence tightened up their acts somewhat. From a far more solid base, Watford began to create a few chances. Anthony McNamee, a half time sub, injected some pace into the lacklustre attack as the Hornets created a few chances. Only some stubborn defending from the plucky non-leaguers kept Watford at bay. Smith, who was lively throughout, had a shot smartly saved by the keeper and Nielsen was unfortunate with a shot which contrived to clip both posts. The Yeading goal was leading a charmed life.

The usual procession of pre-season subs brought the undoubted highlight of the day, as Richard Johnson returned to the fray at last. Looking strong and lean, he had a good twenty-five minutes, culminating in two rasping drives from usual Johnson territory which, had one gone in, would quite frankly have sent our band of fans mental. How we need him to produce the goods when his competitive first team return gets underway. There were also useful run-outs for Vernazza and Glass, while Patterson and Norville showed enough to indicate that we'll see much more of them as the season goes on.

And so, at the end of the game, Yeading were able to celebrate a well-earned win and we were left to ponder some of the things we had seen. Pre-season never has been and never will be a good no barometer of what lies ahead, but I would hope we can raise our game sufficiently when the real action starts, or it's going to be a tough old season....