Under-23's 20/08/2019

Under-23: “The Determination They Showed Was Brilliant”

By Kevin Affleck

“That felt better than beating Hull 5-0,” said one of the players as the Under-23 side bounded jubilantly down the tunnel after leaving it real late to beat Sheffield United 2-1 on Monday night (August 19) in the Professional Development League.

The newly-configured side showed they could get their noses in front and stay there in the comfort of the surroundings at Vicarage Road last week, but at Chesterfield's Proact Stadium they demonstrated they could roll their sleeves up and churn out a result when not at their best. The winner came deep into added time.

“It was a good result,” said Hayden Mullins, the Lead Under-23 Coach after goals from Joseph Hungbo and then a late winner from a trialist sink the Blades. “The character they showed, the way they played and determination they showed was brilliant, absolutely excellent. There are loads of bits we can get better at and improve but the result was very good.”

It took this age group six games to get their first win last time out, but this exciting group of players, featuring players brought in from Manchester United, Leeds, West Ham, Crystal Palace, Reading and Derby, now has two from two. The fact they are playing with such cohesion so early on is testament to the coaching and the DNA of the players.

“The boys are quite close and a very good group,” said Mullins. “I read some good comments the other day from [Academy Manager] Richard Thomas about singing the right type of player and he's right. We've recruited the right characters and they are also good players. We've brought together a really good group and they've knitted together early on. The results reflect that as we've had two different wins.

“Every game is going to be different. You are not going to control a game and have 80 per cent of possession. Sheffield United are a very good side with some good players and they played a high press game and tried to get after us. We weren't at it at the start if I'm honest, but we tidied things up and believed in ourselves a bit more.”

It also helped that Adam Parkes made three smarts saves, including one effort he clawed out just before the Hornets grabbed the winner and that Lewis Gordon looked so sharp at left-back in what was his first competitive game at this level since January because of injury.

“I'm pleased for Lew,” said Mullins. “He's worked really hard to get back and he's a good player. He'll now be keen to have a run and back this performance up.”

The Under-23s are next in action on Friday when they host Sheffield Wednesday at Clarence Park, 1pm KO.

HORNETS: Parkes (GK); Balogun (C), Barrett, Hudson, Gordon; Hungbo, Whelan, Phillips, Bennetts (Wise 79); Trialist, Dalby. Subs not used: Adebiyi, Hoskins, Green, Crichlow

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."