BWPL: Watford 1st Team v Bristol match report, 18th March 2018 – written by Mike Eggleton.
Top ten Watford!
Team: Peter Pickford, Cameron Baker, Jared Baker, Sam Carling, Nandi Cseh, Danny Davis, Petar Djordjic, Will Eggleton, Andy Holt, Jack Pickford, Jack Warman, James Warman.
The 2017/18 season & we faced City of Bristol in the final match of our Championship One campaign and the result really mattered: win and we’d leapfrog Bristol to become one of the country’s top ten teams.
The weather had taken its toll on the spectators. We seemed to have lost four to the snow drifts of the little Beast from the East. But there were still seven of us cheering the team on.
Hopefully that late night/early morning visit to the Cave nightclub hadn’t taken the same toll on our players and team manager.
Bristol started the game with real conviction, getting very close and personal in the way they tightly marked our players. This soon paid off with a counter giving Bristol a 1-0 lead. But Andy Holt responded quickly with a goal from close in to level the score.
Bristol maintained their tight marking, ramping up the pressure. Watford simply couldn’t get sight of their opponent’s goal, and proved vulnerable to a succession of Bristol counters, which quickly moved the score to 4-1. While Watford started to get better
organized in defence, the green shoots of an effective attack were elusive…until a Watford counter finally produced a man-up, which Nandi converted. And with ten seconds left on the clock, another counter, this time by Jack Pickford, saw Watford end the quarter with a more respectable 4-3 score line. Better defending gave Watford the confidence to attack with more purpose. Game on.
Watford started the second quarter in a more positive fashion. But Bristol punished a poor man-up, countering and moving the score to 5-3. Step up Peter Pickford with some great saves, denying Bristol two more dead cert goals from counters. He followed up one save with a great pass to Sam Carling, who got Watford back into the game at 5-4.
Bristol continued to apply the pressure and were rewarded with a penalty, which Peter could do little about. Two goal advantage restored for Bristol. But a great pass from
Nandi enabled James Warman to win Watford a penalty, which Nandi then coolly drilled home. Bristol ramped up the pressure, winning four man-ups in a row, but some great work by the defence and Peter limited the damage to a single goal. Then another counter saw Bristol extend their lead to 8-5. Game over? Never! A pin-point pass from Jared Baker from half way picked out Will Eggleton driving in, and he slotted in between the post and goalie to close the gap. Then some great defending by Watford
released Sam to make it 8-7 from close range. The spectators were exhausted. Thank heavens for the half time break.
It was still anyone’s game as the third quarter started. A vastly improved defence gave Watford room to counter against Bristol. But it was our opponents, who scored the next goal on a man-up. Nandi brought it back to 9-8, drilling home a 5m shot on our own man-up. Bristol still had victory firmly in their sights, as they restored a two-goal lead on yet another counter. Persistence (and his size) paid off for Sam, bringing it back to 10-9 with a goal from pit. But Peter could do nothing, as Bristol lobbed him to restore that two-goal margin once again. The teams continued to trade goals, as Sam got another; this time a long-range shot. And finally, a 5m shot from James Warman got us back on level terms with Bristol for the first time since 1-1. But Bristol did not give up, converting a couple of man-ups to restore that two-goal lead once again, as they led 13-11 at the end of the quarter.
And so began a fourth quarter to go down in the annals of Watford Water Polo Club. Chaos ensued during a Watford man-up, which Andy exploited, setting Petar up to shoot into an empty net. Another Bristol counter took the score back to 14-12. Sam, noting the dying seconds of Bristol possession, charged up the pool, to be picked out by Peter, and coolly lobbed the Bristol keeper, reining their lead back to a single goal. With four minutes left, Will then brought the scores level, scoring from a 5m man-up. The next three minutes were a blur, as Bristol pressed hard for the winning goal, and
Watford threw everything at them bar the kitchen sink. Things went horribly wrong for Bristol on a Watford man-up, after one of their players blocked with two hands. Only one goalie allowed on each team! Penalty!! Nandi coolly drilled it in to put Watford ahead for the first time in the match with only 30 seconds remaining.
Bristol attacked looking for the equaliser, Watford did well to keep them at bay, but with just ten seconds left on the clock, an exclusion presented Bristol with a last-gasp lifeline. But they rushed the man-up, a shot from the wing hit the raised arm of Jack Warman, Bristol lost the ball, and lost the game.
A remarkable result and performance by a Watford team that deserves full credit for never giving up. The result produced a smile from coach Edi, and cheers a plenty from the spectators.