Boreham Wood




Watford’s pre-season campaign began with an entertaining goalless draw at National League outfit Boreham Wood, with Valérien Ismaël’s men enjoying the better chances in the boss’ first outing in the Hornets’ hotseat.

Employing two different XIs either side of half-time, forward Vakoun Bayo was among the liveliest in yellow during the first 45, while Matheus Martins and Tom Dele-Bashiru also caught the eye.

Ismaël Koné and Joseph Hungbo both hit the post in the second period as Boreham Wood - watched on by Assistant Manager and Watford legend Lloyd Doyley - fought hard to retain their clean sheet, and despite several chances there wasn’t to be a winner.

Head Coach Ismaël named a starting XI boasting a blend of youth and experience, with defender Wesley Hoedt named as captain and Martins - who re-joined the Hornets on loan on Tuesday (July 4) - lining up in attack alongside Samuel Kalu and Bayo.

Ivory Coast international Bayo produced the game’s first shot in the fifth minute, with his 20-yard strike being deflected out for the evening’s first corner, following a cagey opening period which saw much of the play focused close to James Morris’ left-back position.

Dele-Bashiru then flashed an effort just wide after a smart team move, as the visitors gradually gathered momentum, but Boreham Wood demonstrated their threat when Tyrone Marsh forced Daniel Bachmann into a good save from a tight angle at the other end.

The Wood were perhaps fortunate not to concede the first goal of the night in the 13th minute, when some neat footwork by Martins opened up an opportunity for Morris to the left of the hosts’ goal, but the young defender could only steer his shot past the post.

As the clock ticked past the midway point in the first half Watford had taken control of possession, and Martins - who had increasingly grown into the contest - made sure to test Nathan Ashmore with a piercing drive after being set on his way by Bayo near the centre circle.

Francisco Sierralta - operating just in front of a back four - was effectively linking defence and attack, and he was involved in a silky move eight minutes before the break that culminated in Bayo spinning and shooting narrowly off target.

Home stopper Ashmore needed to be alert to keep out Dele-Bashiru minutes later, with Martins involved again, and then Ryan Porteous just couldn’t quite stretch far enough to meet a Sierralta header at the back post and nod Watford in front.

The half-time break signalled a full 11 changes to the line-up, with Ben Hamer, Jeremy Ngakia, Koné, Ken Sema, João Ferreira, Christian Kabasele, Mattie Pollock, Kwadwo Baah, Hungbo, Shaq Forde and Tobi Adeyemo all entering the field of play.

Having burst out of the blocks, Watford came within inches of breaking the deadlock in the 51st minute, when Koné fizzed a shot from the edge of the box against the post before Baah struck the follow-up wide.

The intensity and tempo of the game had lifted after the interval, with a string of strong tackles being put in all over the pitch, and it wasn’t long before another away attempt hit the upright, this time from Hungbo.

Sema was next to have a go, with the Swedish wideman unable to test Ashmore in goal, before Koné latched onto a teasing Ferreira cross at the back post but just couldn’t execute his effort as desired.

Adeyemo and Baah led a number of Watford attacks as Ismaël’s charges refused to lie down in the dying moments, but the home side held firm to deny the visitors victory at Meadow Park.


Boreham Wood

Starting XI: Ashmore (GK), Ilesanmi, Payne (C), Stephens (Coxe 41’), Whelan (Trialist 75’), Marsh (Trialist 75’), Abraham (Ndlovu HT), Fyfield (Bush 62’), Balanta (Sagaf HT), Agbontohoma, Sousa

Subs not used: Abayomi (GK), Miller


First-Half Line-Up: Bachmann (GK), Andrews, Porteous, Hoedt (C), Morris, Sierralta, Dele-Bashiru, Louza, Kalu, Martins, Bayo

Second-Half Line-Up: Hamer (GK), Ngakia, Pollock, Kabasele (C), Ferreira, Forde, Hungbo, Koné, Baah, Sema, Adeyemo

Sub not used: Roberts (GK)

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