Under-18's 5 days ago

Herts Cup Reaction: “Sometimes You Have To Struggle For A Win”

Darren Sarll said he was pleased that his Academy side had to “struggle” to come out on top against Leverstock Green in the Herts Senior Cup on Tuesday night, as Dom Hutchinson’s solo-effort ensured the Hornets progressed to the next round.

Having already brushed Potters Bar Town to the wayside, the Academy side – largely made up of Under-18 players – were looking to add another senior scalp to their collection, and Sarll is pleased with how they acquitted themselves at Pancake Lane.

“I think they are just good experiences for the young players who are ‘treated’ with a certain level of standard – pitches and changing rooms and things like that,” said the club’s Head of Academy for the Professional Development Phase.

“I grew up on pitches like that, so it’s nice to come back and have that experience, and try to replicate habits that we do on pristine pitches every day on poorer pitches.

“It was a really good experience; I love bringing young players to play against senior players. I think it’s a really good learning curve, and it’s invaluable for their development.”

Harry Hudson scored against Potters Bar Town in the last round

The young Hornets had to withstand an aerial bombardment towards the end of the game, but held on to claim a clean sheet and a place in the next stage of the tournament.

Sarll was pleased that the players were exposed to the reality of senior football – whatever level – where every ball has to be fought for at 100 per cent.

“These games are never easy, they are always tricky, there’s always an underbelly to them that says this isn’t going to be a walk-through, you aren’t going to be able to tip-tap your way through, you are going to have to use some sort of brute force as well,” said the former Stevenage boss.

“It’s about character – you can talk about substance, shape, strength and adolescence, but you’ve got to have a character, you’ve got to have a big character, a very strong, robust, resilient character to be a top player now.

“I was pleased in patches with some things – but football is a weird and wonderful game. I said to them ‘sometimes you can play really, really beautifully and pleasing on the eye, and take nothing. Sometimes you have to scrap and scrape and pinch and bite to get yourself through little struggles’. I thought it was good when they have to have a bit of a struggle for a win.”

The chance now to progress further sees Watford matched with Bishop’s Stortford in the quarter-finals, and should they win that, St. Albans City, Hertford Town or Royston Town await in the semi-final.

“All they are doing is buying themselves valuable development, and it means we get more and more opportunities against senior players,” said Sarrl. “They are in wonderful form right now.

“As a professional development phase department I think we’ve only lost three games in the last 18 or 19. They are doing wonderfully.”


Keep an eye out on watfordfc.com for details of the quarter-final tie with Bishop’s Stortford.

First Team 5 days ago

Foster: “I'm Proud Of Them”

Watch Ben Foster's post-match interview above, or read on below.


Ben Foster transmitted his immense pride in the outfield players in front of him after Watford almost snatched a point from the jaws of defeat against Manchester City on Tuesday night.

Speaking to match broadcasters BT Sport after the final whistle, Foster gave his account of the game after a fine individual performance by the shot-stopper:

“We would have taken a point [before the game] and it was close, fair play to the lads,” said the goalkeeper. “When you go 2-0 down early in the second half against City - who are world-class and they seem to do it with ease - they are a brilliant team, but fair play to our lads they didn't let their heads drop, they just kept going, and they got the goal and then it was all hands to the pumps to try and get the second.

“It wasn't meant to be, but I'm proud of them for the effort they gave.”

Foster made a string of superb saves to keep the Golden Boys in with a shout throughout the game - including one triple save that will surely make the end-of-season highlight reels - but he insisted he was just doing his job.

“It's Man City so you know you've got to be on your toes,” said Foster. “If you're going to get anything against City you've got to hope your goalie has a good game and I knew I was going to have a few saves to make.

“If we had put that chance away in the first half it could have been a different game, but fair play to City they are relentless - it's high-intensity all the time. It's nice to watch, not so nice to play against!”