A strong Wood eleven delivered a workmanlike performance to ease into the Semi Final of the Herts Senior Cup for the third successive season.
Billy Clifford’s 16th minute penalty proved to be the match winner in a game of few clear cut chances, with both defences reigning supreme.
A Youthful Golden Boys outfit did include the likes of Joel Ekstrand, the 26 year old Swedish defender signed originally from Udinese, who is recovering from a severe knee ligament injury, along with the two Academy products Sean Murray and Tommie Hoban, both of whom have seen action in the Hornet’s First Eleven.
Luke Garrard, who included himself in the starting line up, used the game to give minutes to those who needed it, whilst handing the Captain’s armband to returning loan player Matty Whichelow, who was playing against his old club. George Beattie featured from the Academy set up on the left wing and did not look out of place with some fine link up play on the evening.
Wood took the lead after bossing the early stages of the game. Cameron Mawer delivered a telling cross from the right, forcing the Hornets custodian Nathan Gartside to punch clear. When Delano Sam Yorke looked to seize upon the resultant loose ball, Josh Doherty mistimed his tackle, leaving Clifford to comfortably fire the home side into the lead.
It was Murray, who has been at Watford since he was 9 years old and recently returning from an unsuccessful loan spell with Wigan Athletic, who looked the main goal threat for Harry Kewell’s side on the evening. His deflected shot forced a corner, which led to another fierce drive from the 22 year old, which was deflected off target by a defender.
Clifford tried his luck for Wood with a curling effort from the left, which Gartside put behind for a corner.
Watford slowly grew into the game and Mahlondo Martin got the better of Mawer to force James Russell to save with his legs. David Stephens went close for Wood before the interval, when Gartside struggled to punch a well struck Clifford corner away, the defender’s volley was hit into the ground and somehow cleared off the line.
The visitors enjoyed more of the ball after the restart, but both Joe Devera and Stephens proved to be impassable for the youthful visiting professionals.
Wood had penalty shouts waved away on both Clifford and Luke Howell, before Howell played a quick one two with Whichelow and burst into the penalty area to shoot into the side netting.
Murray tried his luck from the edge of the area again, but the Wood defence did their job in protecting Russell’s goal as Wood eventually saw out time to ease through to a Semi Final date with Bishops Stortford.
Wood: Russell, Mawer, Garrard, Howell, Stephens, Devera, Whichelow, B Clifford ( Shakes 80), Morias ( Kamdjo 90), Sam-Yorke ( Lucas 72), Beattie.
Subs not used: Doe, Gilicia.
Goals: B Clifford 16 (pen).