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.”
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.