Graham cracker sunk spirited Shots

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Two goals from Danny Graham and a Marvin Sordell effort was enough to ensure this first round tie of the Carling Cup went the way of the form book at the EBB Stadium.

It is now five campaigns in this competition since the Shots have made it past the first round, either side of their inception in 1992.

The tie was only ever going to be a bonus for Kevin Dillon's men, but they began the game playing with a belief and composure that suggested they were every much Watford's equals. And the opening exchanges certainly went the hosts' way.

Seizing on a loose header back to keeper Rene Gilmartin - standing in for new England squad member Scott Loach - Marvin Morgan touched the ball towards the by-line and admirably stayed on his feet when Gilmartin made contact. His honesty was not rewarded though as the ball slipped away from him on the slick turf and out for a goal kick.

A minute later and the visiting defence was under more pressure as a cross from the right by Ben Herd was flicked goalwards by Anthony Straker, only for Gilmartin to get down low and push the ball away.

From the resulting Aldershot throw-in, the Hornets' showed their Championship class with a lightning fast break similar to those against Norwich. Winning the ball by their own corner flag, the visitors played their way out of defence and sprung a counter down the left via Danny Graham.

The two-goal hero from the weekend centred the ball across the six-yard box for Will Buckley, who was only denied a certain goal by a brilliant recovery challenge by Ben Harding.

Both teams were determined to play the game in the right manner, but it was this insistence on keeping the ball that was to cost the Shots dear just before the quarter hour.

Unwilling to play a low percentage long ball, Ben Harding turned towards his own penalty area and was pounced upon by three Watford players. The ball came to Danny Graham just inside the box, who fired low to the bottom right corner of Jamie Young's net.

It was a goal that was harsh on the home side, who had at the very least matched their higher league opponents in the first half, but worse was to come on the stroke of half time.

Watford's pressing game paid dividends again as they won the ball deep in Aldershot's half. The impressive Doyley took the ball down the by-line and pulled it back for Marvin Sordell, who - with an open net - simply could not miss.

The second half saw the game effectively end as a contest, with easily the goal of the game from Danny Graham. Picking the ball up on the right, he cut inside, charging at the Shots' back line. With defenders back-pedalling, he skipped past Clayton Fortune and unleashed a fierce left-footed shot into the top corner from the edge of the box - his fourth goal in the opening two games of the season.

Most home fans would have been silenced by this blow, but not the Aldershot faithful who - despite the scoreline - had plenty to sing about - and sing they did.

Jermaine McGlashan came on for his first competitive appearance for the Shots, and he soon had the home fans roaring. His run down the right late on proved too hot to handle for the Watford defence, and he broke through into the box, before squaring to the home man of the match, Anthony Straker, who blazed high and wide with his right foot.

There was still time for Shots' sub Damian Spencer to twice get in behind the Watford back four in identical fashion, but the still goalless striker - in his second spell at the club - could not open his account on either occasion.

The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.

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Anthony Straker
League Cup
League Two
Aldershot Town

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