Ladies 27/08/2019

Ladies: Portsmouth 2-0 Watford

Having defeated Portsmouth in the league last weekend, the Golden Girls couldn’t manage to repeat that success in the Determining Round of the FA WNL Cup, as Pompey won 2-0 after extra-time at Baffins Milton Rovers FC.

The game was scoreless at the end of 90 minutes, with both teams having chances in a closely contested encounter. That changed quickly in extra-time though, as goals from Tamsin de Bunsen and Rebecca Bath ensured the hosts progressed in the competition.

Despite the loss, there’s still a chance at silverware for Watford, with the Hornets now entering the FA WNL Plate.

With a strong squad at his disposal, Head Coach Armand Kavaja opted to make seven changes to the side that started at Portsmouth the previous weekend.

There was a debut for summer signing Ryah Vyse, while Emma Beckett and Ocean Rolandsen both started for the first time, after impressing as substitutes last time out. With Helen Ward dropping to the bench, Andrea Carid was handed the captain’s armband.

Jade Widdows had the first opportunity for the hosts as she tested Nina Wilson. Down at the other end, Beckett headed over for Watford.

Neither keeper was exactly busy in the opening half hour. Charmaine True fired an effort that went wide of the left-hand post, while Leanne Bell’s strike from distance was dipping but not quickly enough.

Wilson was soon called upon though and had to make a good save to keep it scoreless, stopping Bath who had been picked out by a fine pass from Widdows.

Watford had the ball in the net when Katie O’Leary finished from Carid’s ball across, but unfortunately for the Hornets, the flag was raised.

Kavaja’s side were beginning to get on top as the half drew to a close. Bell’s first touch was perfect to set up an opportunity and she then managed to get a good shot away, but Hannah Haughton saved well low down to her right.

O’Leary and Alysha Stojko-Down both had half-chances in the final few minutes, but neither could force Haughton into making another stop before the break.

Ward was introduced from the bench early in the second half and it didn’t take her too long to start making an impression on the game. She picked out Carid at the back post who was denied by Haughton, the rebound fell to Rolandsen, but the follow-up was blocked by a Portsmouth defender.

Not long after, Carid was testing the goalkeeper again. Her shot from an awkward angle had plenty behind it, which Haughton managed to deal with well.

The home side were starting to look more dangerous as the second half progressed. Some good work from Katie James saw her find some space inside, but she couldn’t get her strike on target.

What was arguably Portsmouth’s best chance of the 90 minutes fell to de Bunsen, from a good position, she shot just wide of the right-hand post.

With the hosts knocking at the door late on and any goal likely to be crucial, Vyse in particular was defending brilliantly. She made a key tackle in the box and then managed to head away two dangerous set-piece deliveries.

With extra-time underway, it didn’t take long for the stalemate to be broken. After missing earlier on, de Bunsen made amends with a fine strike from distance which beat Wilson.

Shortly after, that advantage was doubled. It appeared that Wilson had made a fine save as she tipped Bath’s effort onto the crossbar, but after some consultation between the officials, it was ruled to have crossed the line.

In the final minutes of the first half of extra-time, Haughton came up big for her side. Ward was picked out in the box and, with only the keeper to beat, she was denied by a great save.

The Watford skipper did manage to get the ball past the Portsmouth keeper early on in the second period of extra-time, but her shot trickled agonisingly wide of the post.

Wilson stopped de Bunsen from getting her second of the game and her side’s third, but with the Golden Girls down to ten late on due to injury, there was to be no dramatic comeback.

GOLDEN GIRLS | Wilson, Kettle, Beckett, Huggins (Fatuga-Dada, 63), Rolandsen, Stojko-Down, Scanlon (Hill, 79), Vyse, Bell, O’Leary (Ward, 55), Carid (C) (Chandler, 98)

POMPEY | Haughton, Tonks, Ingram, Southgate (C), Widdows (de Bunsen, 66), Bradley (Rowe, 66), James, Bath (May, 111), True, Lee-Stewart, Bridge (Currie, 96)

Goals | de Bunsen (93), Bath (97)


First Team 27/08/2019

In Depth: Sordell On Watford, Coventry & Retirement

Marvin Sordell was speaking to match programme THE HORNET – see Tuesday’s Coventry edition for the full, in-depth interview.

Marvin Sordell made his professional football debut for Watford in August 2009, as a substitute in a 2-0 loss at Sheffield United. This summer, fewer than 10 years later, he was announcing his retirement from the professional game.

The former Hornet will be returning to Vicarage Road as a fan on Tuesday night when Watford face Coventry City – another of his old clubs – in the Carabao Cup.

“It will be really nice, being back where my career started and at a place that feels like home,” he said. “I will just enjoy being back as a fan and being able to watch the game and enjoy it without thinking about anything else.”

It’s been a turbulent time for Sordell since he left Watford to join Bolton Wanders on the final day of the transfer window in January 2012. The forward played for seven clubs in seven years before deciding to hang up his boots and pursue other interests.

“I’ve known for a long time, for years, that I wasn’t going to be one of those players who plays until they’re 35 or 36,” he explained. “Over the last year or so different situations meant I was coming to the conclusion I was enjoying life more outside the game than life inside the game.

“I’ve heard a lot of people talk about money, but I value my happiness more than I value the financial side that comes with the game. There are so many negatives that are a part of football.”

Football has never been the be all and end all for Sordell, who has exciting plans for his retirement. He kept up his passion for writing and media during his playing career and recently launched production company 180 Productions with two close friends.

“This is something I’ve been passionate about for quite a long time,” he said. “Film, television and being able to be creative through visuals. This is what I see as my new career path and it’s quite exciting to see where it’s going to take me. We’re fortunate that we’re starting off very quickly, we’ve got a lot of conversations and a lot of different people talking about creating things.”

One of the first projects 180 Productions will release publicly is a campaign for mental health charity CALM.

“It’s a campaign really to get people to talk about mental health,” said Sordell. “I’ve been speaking to CALM for just over a year now and I became an ambassador earlier this year. I think what they do is amazing.”

A move back to Watford is next for Sordell, but as a supporter rather than a player. Living close to Vicarage Road, he drives past the stadium regularly and said he cannot believe how it has changed since he was at the club.

Sordell said he plans to be a regular visitor to the ground this season, starting with the League Cup tie between the two clubs he remembers most fondly.

“I’ll be rooting for Watford. If it was Coventry against anyone else – other than Arsenal – it would be Coventry. But Watford are my team.

“If there are two clubs that I would say I would really be rooting for, it's Watford and Coventry.”