Under-23's 07/01/2019

U23 Report & Reaction: QPR 1-2 Watford

By Kevin Affleck

Darren Sarll believes Michael Folivi’s splendid double in a significant 2-1 win over high-riding Queens Park Rangers will prompt renewed interest in the striker.

The Head of the club’s Academy has made no secret of his desire to send his most promising players out on loan in a bid to enhance their development and he hopes the match-winning nature of Folivi’s performance here will spark a flurry of phone calls.

The 20-year-old scored the first with a goal strikingly similar to the one Troy Deeney got at West Ham a couple of seasons back and then gave his side the comfort blanket of a second with a spectacular second from a similar area of the pitch that crashed in off the bar.

It meant the Hornets were able to withstand a late QPR goal and hold on deservedly for their fourth league win of the Professional Development League season.

“They were wonderful goals,” said Sarll. “I’m very critical of Michael when he gets in on that left-hand side on the angle as I feel too many times he doesn’t have a picture of what he looks like. He did what I’ve asked of him today and they were two great finishes. We’ve worked very hard on that and he’s scoring a good amount of goals now and should be a very attractive proposition for someone.”

Folivi, who now has nine for the season, turns 21 in February and Sarll feels he will continue to mature if he follows up his loan spells at Coventry City and Boreham Wood with another temporary switch.

“The plan for him is the same as for everyone else: the minute we can get them out playing senior football, they’ll go,” he said. “That doesn’t matter if you are a second-year scholar or a second-year pro. It’s important to play senior football every week and see what it’s like at the coal face.”

The Under-23 side certainly had to dig in against an experienced QPR team who fielded well-travelled defender Alex Baptiste at the back, Sean Goss, who played for Glasgow Rangers last season, in midfield, and the giant Matt Smith, who averages one in two league starts for the Hoops, in attack.

Given the quality of the opposition, the fact they had not lost since September and that they thrashed the Hornets 6-2 at Vicarage Road in October, it probably ranks as the team’s best win of the campaign.

“I thought it was a wonderful performance,” said Sarll. “You could see how motivated the group were and these are enjoyable games. You try and hang onto things like that [the defeat at Vicarage Road] and elements of that performance, but we just asked them to be brave and not to give the opponents too much respect.

“There were some very good bits today. I felt we had lost a bit of momentum and a bit of intensity in training after coming back from Christmas, but I thought they really found their legs after the first 15 minutes and played with a great mentality and harmony. It was really enjoyable.”

Sarll fielded another callow team packed with teenagers – only one player was above the age of 19 – and yet they stood up and played with great spirit and discipline. They all rushed over to stand up for their teammate when the game boiled over in the second half, while you had striker Ryan Cassidy making two key clearances in his own box and playmaker Sonny Blu-Lo Everton taking one for the team and picking up a yellow card to thwart one late attack from the home side.

“You always go back to player development,” said Sarll. “You had 16-year-old Imaad Sanko in the middle of the park, Dan Phillips a second-year apprentice, Ash Charles hasn’t played really for four weeks, you’ve got a first-year scholar [Harry Hudson] at right-back, a second-year scholar [Lewis Gordon] at left-back and a first-year scholar [Dante Baptiste] in goal.

“You then see Sonny come on and show a wonderful touch of class around the box. This was a wonderful experience for them and feel-good performances like today are the fuel that gets the fire going in their belly and takes them onto a good career.”

The Academy coaches will all talk at length about how player development is far more important than the result, but it didn’t half feel good to register a win like this. 

“It’s important you develop them knowing how to win,” said Sarll. “That’s why I love having people like [Academy goalkeeping coach] Graham Stack around me because he’s got that cynical, winning edge to him. He doesn’t care if the players are 16, 18 or 21 – he just wants to win.

“The minute they get a lead you see people like Graham turn into another beast and it’s about winning. No manager wants a loser in their team and that’s what we are trying to create here. It was a good day and a nice one for player development.”

HORNETS: Baptiste; Hudson, Mukena, Leighton, Gordon (Mullins 80); Sankoh, Phillips, Charles (C) (Blu-Lo Everton 77), Forster (Holsgrove 85); Folivi, Cassidy.

Subs not used: Hoskins (GK), Hutchinson. 

Ladies 07/01/2019

Ladies Report: Middlesbrough 2-7 Watford

By Chris Smith

A remarkable performance from Watford FC Ladies saw the Golden Girls progress to the fourth round of the SSE Women’s FA Cup in style, winning 7-2 away at Middlesbrough Women.

It was an extraordinary start to the game which saw four goals in the first 20 minutes. Danielle Scanlon and Helen Ward put the Hornets in front, before Emily Scarr pulled one back for the hosts.

Ward immediately restored the two-goal advantage, but Middlesbrough again hit back, this time through Holly Manders. The Hornets would not be denied from leading by two at the break as Katie O’Leary put them ahead by that margin for the third time.

Samantha Hallsworth made it 5-2 just after the hour mark and then Helen Ward added some gloss to the scoreline late-on, netting from two one-on-one opportunities for her third and fourth strikes of the game.

There was just one change to the side that had defeated Buckland Athletic in the previous round. Kat Huggins returned to the starting line-up, a move which saw Adekite Fatuga-Dada move further forward.

With only seven minutes on the clock, Watford took the lead. Fatuga-Dada’s corner found Scanlon who had got away from her marker and she picked out the bottom left corner with her header.

Just a few minutes later that advantage was doubled. Ward was afforded plenty of space in the box, she opened up and beat the keeper who perhaps should have done better with the near post effort.

Middlesbrough pulled one back when a long ball forward resulted in a mix-up in defence and Scarr took advantage, slotting home into an empty net.

Watford’s response couldn’t have been better, it only took 14 seconds from kick-off. A clever through ball from Fatuga-Dada found Ward and she lifted the ball over the on-rushing Ashleigh Trainer.

Before the half hour mark, the home side again pulled a goal back. Manders’ header from 15 yards out found its way in although Eleanor Dale might have got a touch to it.

The Hornets were constantly creating openings throughout the game and continued to look dangerous going forward. Ward’s shot across goal was parried away by Trainer and agonisingly away from O’Leary.

While the chance wouldn’t fall to O'Leary that time, when it did, she capitalised. Ward dug out a deep cross to the back post and she wasn’t going to miss the header from close range.

Middlesbrough had a glorious chance soon after the interval to continue the topsy-turvy nature of the game. Tyler Dodds showed great work down the right and then came inside but she couldn’t keep her shot down.

O’Leary put a difficult chance over for Watford but Boro had the better openings in the first 15 of the second half. Weronika Baranowska produced a good save to deny Scarr, while some decent defending from Hallsworth took the sting out of Manders’ shot, making it easy for the keeper.

Alysha Stojko-Down then had an effort off-target for Watford but there wasn’t to be long to wait for the fifth. Hallsworth pushed up the field and her cross-cum-shot completely deceived Trainer and found the corner.

There could have been a quick response after the goal again, but fortunately Dodds couldn’t find the target after some good work in the build-up.

Baranowska had to make her best save of the game with just over 10 to play. Dale tried to lift it over her, but she stood tall and made the stop.

If there was still any lingering doubt about Watford securing their place in the next round that was put to bed as Ward got her hat-trick. Fatuga-Dada won possession in the attacking third, played it through and the captain made no mistake one-on-one.

Ward was then presented with another one-on-one opportunity and she took advantage, getting her fourth of the game by slotting through the goalkeeper’s legs.

It could have been even more in the closing stages, but O’Leary fired narrowly over from close range and Leanne Bell’s strike came back off the crossbar.

GOLDEN GIRLS | Baranowska, Hallsworth (Baker, 66), Edwards, Hill, Huggins, Scanlon (Kettle, 82), Stojko-Down, Fatuga-Dada, Carid (Bell, 51), O’Leary, Ward (C).

Goals | Scanlon (7), Ward (10, 20, 81, 84), O’Leary (39), Hallsworth (61).

BORO | Trainer, Hutchinson (Marshall, 73), Luke (Bass, 59), Birtwhistle, Foster, Watt, Dodds, Kelly (C), Dale, Manders, Scarr (Dobson, 59).

Goals | Scarr (19), Manders (28).