MATCH REPORT: SC Verl 1-4 Watford
WATFORD got their tour of northern Germany off to a perfect start, with a 4-1 victory over fourth division side SC Verl.
Odion Ighalo continued his fine run of pre-season form under new boss Quique Sanchez Flores, with a brace to make it five in three fixtures.
Ikechi Anya scored a fine volley to make it three prior to the break, before giving away a penalty in the second-half which was converted by Hamadi Al Ghaddioui.
The win was put beyond doubt with 15 minutes to go, courtesy of substitute Lloyd Dyer, who netted a wonderful solo goal to make it four and seal the win.
The Golden Boys lined-up for their first game in Germany against SC Verl in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Hornets midfielder Connor Smith and striker Fernando Forestieri both missed the game due to minor knocks suffered in training.
In goal for the Hornets was Heurelho Gomes, and he was marshaled by a centre-half pairing of Sebastian Prodl and Craig Catchart, with Tommie Hoban and Daniel Pudil operating as full-backs.
Etienne Capoue and Ben Watson were the two central-defensive midfielders, with Anya, Almen Abdi and Ighalo playing in attacking roles just behind front-man and captain Troy Deeney.
The Hornets nearly had the lead in the first minute, after neat hold-up play from Deeney saw him set Ighalo up for a volley that came close to looping over the keeper.
SC Verl responded with a chance of their own minutes later, when Grosseschallau’s free-kick went inches wide of Gomes’ post.
It was to be Watford that would open the scoring though, after Ighalo pounced on sloppy defending to slot home the game's first goal.
A second of the game nearly came after a wonderful piece of football involving Ighalo and Abdi, with the latter putting through Deeney, who saw his strike deflected wide by Verl keeper Sebastian Lange.
Eventually the Hornets did double their lead through Ighalo, who also doubled his own personal tally for the game. The Nigerian was on-hand to tap home after Capoue had cut in from the byline and delivered a pin-point cross past Lange.
There wasn't much time to catch breath before the visitors netted a third of the game, via a well-struck half-volley from Anya that left the keeper helpless.
With a heavy downpour greeting the teams as they came back out after the break, the Hornets made three changes to freshen things up, including Jose Holebas, who came on for his second outing in a Watford shirt.
A fourth goal for the visitors after the interval was thwarted by an excellent reflex save by Lange in the Verl goal, denying a Deeney header superbly from point-blank range.
With just under half-an-hour to go, the home side managed to get themselves on the scoresheet. Anya was adjudged to have stopped Jonas Erwig-Druppel’s volley with his arm, and Al Ghaddioui stepped up to finish into the top left of Giedrius Arlauskis’ goal.
The moment of the match was to follow when substitute Dyer dribbled from inside his own half, past numerous defenders before audaciously attempting to chip Lange. The effort was executed to perfection by the winger as it found the back of the net, and that sealed what was a comprehensive display from the Hornets.
HORNETS (First-Half): Gomes (GK); Hoban, Prodl, Cathcart, Pudil; Watson, Capoue; Anya, Ighalo, Abdi; Deeney (c).
HORNETS (Second-Half): Arlauskis (GK); Anya (Lewis, 65), Prodl (Angella, 57), Cathcart, Holebas; Watson (Murray, 74), Capoue; Abdi (Fabbrini, 63), Ighalo (Vydra, 57), Dyer; Deeney (c) (Byers, 81).
HORNETS SUBS NOT USED: Gilmartin (GK), Belkalem, Johnson, Young, Doherty, Martin, Behrami, Jakubiak.
SC VERL (First-Half): Lange (GK); Grosseschallau, Stockner, Schmidt (c), Kaminski; Mikic, Schroder, Hecker, Erwig-Druppel; Haeder, Al Ghaddioui.
SC VERL (Second-Half): Lange (GK); Unzola, Stockner, Schmidt (c), Mikic; Gieseler, Erwig-Druppel, Hecker, Grosseschalan; Haeder, Al Ghaddioui.