Watford Water Polo Mens Team Progress to Qtr Finals of the Refs Cup

The Watford Men’s team progressed into the Quarter Finals of this season’s London League Referee’s Cup but it was close as Chelmsford nearly snatched victory in the drying seconds of the game.

Watford traveled to Chelmsford on Monday evening with a full strength side boast by England Senior Men’s Goalie Peter Pickford who had just returned from the EU Nations Cup in Szczecin, Poland at the weekend having helped the team secure the Bronze medal.

The Referee’s Cup is a goals handicap competition with each team awarded a +Goals advantage based on the previous season’s league position & this year Watford had +5 & Chelmsford +14 so effectively Watford needed to win by 10 clear goals on the night to progress or a draw would give the away side victory under the competitions rules.

Watford last won the Ref’s Cup in 2015 & having lost in the 2016 final, the team were determined to get back to the final this year & win the cup back from current holders Sutton & Cheam.

The game started with Watford in determined mood to reduced the 9 goal deficit early and in the space of 4 mins the team had scored five unanswered goals as Andy Holt, Cami Baker, Ciaran Walshe & bothers James & Jack Warman did the damage. An error in defence allowed Chelmsford to pull one back at 1-5 but with 27 seconds of the opening quarter remaining Nandi Cseh scored from seven metres for Watford to lead 1-6 (15-11) behind.

Into the second period & with Watford now attacking the shallow end errors started to creep into the team’s attacking play and the goals dried up as we only scored 3 via a double from Walshe & another from Holt. Peter Pickford in goal for Watford was also having to work hard & pulled off a number of excellent saves that has seen him progress into the England & GB Polo set-up. Chelmsford did manage to score mid-way through the half but it wasn’t enough & at half time Watford lead 9-2 but critically still two goals behind at 16-14 on the handicap basis.

Into the third period & with the teams changing ends at HT Watford were now back to their best in front of the Chelmsford goal in the “deep end” and a quick flurry of goals inside 90 seconds had them in front on the night at 16-17 thanks to efforts from Walshe, Holt & John Pickford. At this point Watford were in control & pushed further ahead with goals from James Warman & a double from Holt to lead 16-20. However with 1.24 mins remaining Chelmsford found a second wind & scored twice to reduce the deficit to two at 18-20.

Into the final period & Chelmsford went on the attack in search of the goals they needed to win & created two Man-up situations early in the quarter but some solid defending from Watford kept them out & turning defence into attack a goal from Holt with 2,40 remaining looked to have won the game for his side (18-21) however Chelmsford weren’t done & with nothing to lose they chanced their arm & scored three goals the third with only 31 seconds remaining to the level the game at 21-21.

Watford then went on the attack to find that winning goal but Chelmsford defended solidly & winning the ball back with only 11 seconds remaining they called a time-out however Watford turned the ball over & with seven seconds remaining called a time-out of their own however the team couldn’t find a way through & the game finished 21-21 on the handicap.

Under the competitions rules Penalties should have followed but as pool time had expired the rules state that in the event of a draw the away team progress. So Watford are into the quarter-finals by the skin of their teeth & will now face last season’s Premier League Champions & Cup Holders Sutton & Cheam at home in June for a place into the semi-finals,

Close but they got the job done!!!

Team (Goals):

Peter Pickford (GK), Steve Brassington, Dan Kattan, Andy Holt (6), Jack Warman (1), Ed Chow, Ciaran Walshe (4), Nandi Cseh (1), James Warman (2), Cami Baker, (1) Neil Haftel, Steve Behr, John Pickford (1).