Under-18's 20/08/2019

Under-18: “We’re Playing Some Really Good Football”

By David Anderson

Watford Under-18s have now scored nine goals in two games to get their season off to a flying start after a 4-0 win against Birmingham City on Saturday (August 17).

But ambitious Lead Coach Simon Clark is still not satisfied, asking for even higher levels of performance and encouraging his players to set their sights on the Under-23s and beyond.

Pre-season ended strongly for the young Hornets and their form continued into the first league games, as the 5-1 drubbing of Bolton on their own turf was followed by the 4-0 home win against Birmingham City.

“We’ve made good strides because we’re playing some really good football,” said Clark. “Yes, we’d like to play through the thirds, but if there are runs up front and we can hit somebody on the diagonal, we’ll mix it up.

“We’re different now, we’re more efficient now and more organised. That is really good development in a short period of time and in two months’ time we’ll be different again, because the lads are learning and listening and developing.”

Despite scoring nine with just one in reply, Clark’s high standards mean the goal conceded still bugs him. Even after keeping a clean sheet against Birmingham, he still brings up a first half with too many turnovers of possession and a brief second half spell in which the Blues pushed forward and rattled the woodwork.

This is because performances are more important than results for Clark, who has previously won the Professional Development League with Charlton Athletic but sets his real target as having his players establish themselves at the highest possible level.

“I want to create players who are better than our Under-23s players,” he continued. “With more knowledge, who are fitter and sharper and quicker and can really push to jump into Hayden’s side. Not just to make numbers up.

“I’ve made Dom Hutchinson skipper and he got a couple of goals on Saturday. His work rate, his leadership, he really took that on board, and I’ve been delighted with him. Andi Janjeva’s been very comfortable in the two games, Kamil Conteh is a first year who played emergency right-back on Saturday, and he is very assured both with and without the ball.”

The coach acknowledges that a global market for Premier League clubs can make the first team feel like a distant dream for some players, but he wants top level football to be a real ambition.

“I’ve already had individual chats with some players,” he said. “Don’t restrict your ambitions. It can seem far away but just commit yourself totally to myself, to the team, to the group, to your football club. Because that’s what it takes.

“Don’t settle for League Two. Think ‘I want to play with Troy Deeney’, ‘I want to be the next Adrian Mariappa’, or whoever it is and put 150 appearances on the table for this great football club.”

Watford's Under-18s defeated Birmingham 4-0 thanks to goals from James Matthews, Dom Hutchinson (2) and Ryan Maclean.

HORNETS: Baptiste (GK), Conteh, Maclean, Burchell, Matthews, Janjeva, Sankoh, Thompson (Horsewood, 75), Hutchinson (C), Lo-Everton (Harrison, 70), McKiernan (Lawal, 70).

Subs not used: Broome, White.

Ladies 19/08/2019

Ladies: Beckett Signs From Tottenham

Last week saw the Golden Girls make their fifth signing of the summer, former Tottenham midfielder Emma Beckett.  

Beckett is no stranger to Watford FC Ladies and has plenty of experience in gaining promotion. The midfielder first joined Watford in 2007 when the club won promotion to the Premier League (now the WSL) and she later re-joined the club again in 2012 under John Salomon, when the girls finished second.

More recently the midfielder has completed spells at London Bees and Tottenham Hotspur, successfully gaining promotion once more to the WSL with Spurs last season.  

“It’s such a good feeling to be back. The first time I played for Watford FC is when Helen Ward was still young!” Beckett told watfordfc.com.

“Watford afforded me my first top-level opportunity in the game as a teenager and that’s a memory I’ll always cherish, and one reason Watford will always be close to my heart.

“After speaking to Helen Ward and other friends at the club, the girls were all complimentary about the professionalism the club offers, the standard of coaching sessions and the overall ambition shared by all at the club. Who doesn’t want to represent a club like that?

“The opportunities available to us players within Watford FC are comparable to those within WSL clubs, with the medical support being of a standard that should be available to all female players. The club has certainly evolved since my last spell here.”

Although Beckett is no new face here at Watford, she has still needed to settle in with the coaches and her new teammates. However, this has been an easy task for the newcomer, who explained: “I have genuinely really enjoyed being involved with the team and in the training sessions over the past week or so. The girls have been a dream – as have the coaches. They’ve been so welcoming and have really tried to make me feel right at home.”

Beckett has already been well involved for the Golden Girls with a pre-season friendly, impressively scoring two goals with two assists.

“The friendly culminated in a positive score line and an improved second half performance to really set the scene for the upcoming game against Portsmouth. Despite having a number of new players in the squad - myself included - the team really seemed to gel and discover an understanding which can only bode well for this season,” she said.

After a successful 2-0 victory over Portsmouth in the first game of the season, Beckett is confident for the upcoming season and having won the FAWC last season with Tottenham, this could become a habit for the new recruit. 

“I love to win and appreciate how important enjoying football is to enabling such results and performances, so I’ll really be aiming to bring the best out in my teammates and in turn, letting the performances dictate the results. As a group, promotion is the objective in everyone’s minds.

"The players seem to be in an excellent headspace right now. The vibe is very focused but at the same time, very composed. There is a great mix of youth and experience in the team and everyone has the same aspirations for the season, which, coupled with the drive and support of the coaching team, has created a great atmosphere at the club."