Penalty heartache for Internet ‘Orns

WATFORD IFC’s IFA British Cup run was ended just short of the final; beaten on penalties by Manchester United, having previously won their way through to the semi-final in the same fashion against Airdrieonians.

Played half-way between the two clubs, who were meeting for the first time outside of WorldNet, the match at Sutton Coldfield Town FC started the match brightly for the Hornets who adopted a 4-3-3 formation, up against a strong 3-5-2 United team. However, as the game developed, the Red Devils increasingly started imposing themselves more and more upon the game. Initially this just resulted in increased possession as WIFC restricted them mostly to long-range efforts, although one of these did strike the upright.

Watford  fell behind mid-way through the half. Trying to play out from the back, United pressed a weak ball into midfield, won possession and then the goalscorer immediately hit a clever lob over a stranded Saahil Sadiq in the Golden Boys’ goal.

WIFC finished the half stronger with the introduction of some fresh legs who ran at the United back three and got them to turn towards their own goal repeatedly. Suddenly United looked vulnerable. Half-time soon came and the chat was to continue with this game plan, although little were the team to know how devastating that would be.

Firstly Ben Kelly was put though one-on-one with the keeper, who closed down the angles well, but the opening signs of the half were positive. WIFC then moved very quickly into a two-goal lead with a devastating three-goal salvo during a five-minute spell. Alfie Parkins levelled from close-range after Kelly drilled the ball across the six-yard box. A minute later, Alfie Cooke won a free-kick on the left of the box, which Tom Labbett fired into the near post for Tom Anderson to deftly flick home. Next came the goal of the game from Man of the Match Frank Smith; advancing from his defensive midfield position, he travelled and glided past numerous United players. Having looked like he’d somewhat run into a blind alley to the right of the six-yard box, he then turned inside and fired home.

United had just over half an hour to try and salvage the situation, and four minutes later the momentum of the game switched when United quickly got a goal back. Had WIFC managed to hold the two-goal lead for longer, perhaps the outcome may have been very different – as now United pressed forwards with energy. A resolute WIFC defence increasingly found United players running on from midfield against tired legs. United hit the woodwork four times in all – and it was no real surprise when they drew level with 10 minutes to go.

The last ten minutes firstly played out with United on the front foot and pushing for the winner, however on a couple of occasions the pace of the two Alfies – Cooke and Parkins – nearly unlocked breakaway chances. The final few minutes concluded with both sides feeling the spectre of an inevitable penalty shootout.

With United taking penalties first, it quickly moved to 2-2 with four successful conversions. United then missed over the crossbar, only for the next WIFC effort to be saved by the goalkeeper going the right way. The next five penalties were then all successfully dispatched, until WIFC’s sixth was saved meaning United won the shootout 5-4.

Hornets: Saahil Sadiq; Tyrone Coley, Cleveland Brandy, Joe Withey, Connor Church; Frank Smith, Tom Labbett, Callum Maloney; Romeo Coley, Ben Kelly, Alfie Cooke.
Subs used: Tom Anderson, Christian Frater, Matt Ladell, Alfie Parkins, Lamar St-Cyr.

Goals: Parkins, Anderson, Smith. Penalties scored: Smith, Labbett, Cooke, Parkins.

Sadiq’s saves sent Internet ‘Orns to the Semis

WATFORD IFC booked their place in the semi-finals of the IFA British Cup for the fifth time in the club’s history, thanks to a penalty shootout win over fellow IFA stalwarts Internaziowally – the supporters’ team of Scottish Championship club Airdrieonians FC – in their first meeting outside of WorldNet.

Teenage goalkeeper Saahil Sadiq proved the Hornets’ hero with two spot-kick stops during the shootout – the first of which a magnificent full-length save away to his left.

Watford’s takers – chosen by manager Rich Walker without any player consultation – all held their nerve to score, Alfie Parkins tucking the fourth away to secure a last-four berth at the expense of the Scottish opponents.

Having gone ahead 12 minutes before half-time thanks to a low, drilled shot from Adam Gallichan, Watford lost their composure for a 20-minute second-half spell which saw Airdrie not only equalise but go ahead thanks to a defensive brain fade from the otherwise faultless Cleveland Brandy.

However, after several changes of formation to try and conjur a late leveller, Mark O’Connor spared his teammate’s blushes on 86 minutes when he drilled a low shot inside the far post to take the cup tie straight into penalties – as is IFA custom.

There were so many good individual WIFC performances on a morning when the tie could have gone either way, however two older heads and three teenagers really caught the eye.

Derek Payne, approaching his 57th birthday, was his usual personification of calm at the base of a midfield three, while Tom Anderson – who came on during the first 45 – gave easily his best ever performance in a WIFC shirt, a tigerish display of ball-winning on the floor and especially in the air both in the middle of the pitch and later as one of three centre-halves.

Away from his regular position up front, Alfie Cooke did an excellent job at left-back, Joe Withey proved a titan in the middle of defence and then Alfie Parkins gave much-needed energy to the forward line when introduced for the game’s last hour.

Neither team deserved to lose the contest, such was the shift in momentum in both directions, and both shook hands on a keenly-fought cup tie after the game in the bar at hosts Kings Langley FC.

Watford IFC will now face Manchester United at the customary neutral venue half-way between the clubs, with the winners set to take a place in this season’s IFA British Cup Final.

Hornets: Saahil Sadiq; Lamar St-Cyr, Joe Withey, Cleveland Brandy, Alfie Cooke; Derek Payne, Tom Labbett, Callum Maloney; Ben Kelly, Adam Gallichan, Mark O’Connor (c).
Subs used: Alby Salvidge, Romeo Coley, Tom Anderson.
Subs not used: Alan Lau, Stuart Sperinck.

Goals: Gallichan, O’Connor. Penalties: O’Connor, Kelly, Cooke, Parkins.

Six of the best for Internet ‘Orns

A FOUR-GOAL salvo from livewire Ben Kelly kept a spirited Claret Shoemakers at bay, Watford IFC running out eventual 6-3 winners against our friends, the supporters of Northampton Town FC.

After early Cobblers’ pressure, particularly from set-pieces, Kelly latched onto a long through-pass to round the keeper and put the Hornets one up.

He made it 2-0 when cutting back inside from the corner of the penalty area to curl an accurate shot into the far side of goal, but Town responded with a goal that followed several failed Watford attempts to clear from an opposition corner.

Paul Shelock got on the scoresheet eight minutes before half-time, sending the hosts in 3-1 up at the break, when he placed a 22-yard free-kick out of the reach of a stranded Cobblers’ keeper after a foul on that man Kelly.

It was four moments into the second 45 – but in far more fortuitous circumstances this time, with Kelly’s cross swirling beyond the new Northampton gloveman before dropping tamely over the goal-line.

Cobblers fought back well, though, typical of their indomitable spirit whenever the two sides meet. And, by the time there was 12 minutes left on the watch, they’d reduced Watford’s lead to just one goal with two of their own.

It was only in the final few moments of the match that the Hornets eased over the finishing line; first Kelly converting a spot-kick for his fourth goal after he’d been felled, the club’s first penalty since Feb 2022, then unselfishly slipping a pass to Sean Kidby to stroke home Watford’s sixth seconds before the full-time whistle at Callowland Rec.

WIFC: Bateman; Blythe, Gallichan, (debutant) Anthony Smith, Lau; St-Cyr, Salvidge, Shelock, Maloney; Kidby, Kelly, 
Subs used: Ainsley, Sperinck.

Ladell’s leap propels determined display

WATFORD IFC brushed aside the set-back of an early opposition goal to win through 5-2 against the visitors from Dulwich Hamlet FC’s supporters team, in the first meeting of the two teams since 2012.

Matt Ladell’s second overhead kick of the calendar year was the goalscoring highlight for the hosts, who weathered some late withdrawals from the squad to push through and claim victory with just 12 available – and three of those 50-year-olds deployed within the defensive unit.

One behind from a set-piece within two minutes that player-manager Richard Walker in goal could have done better to prevent, the Hornets levelled through makeshift striker Tom Labbett before too long, and found their feet at Callowland Rec – chosen especially for DHFC’s return train journey back to Champion Hill – when Adam Gallichan tapped home from Labbett junior’s low centre.

Walker’s point-blank save from another Dulwich chance allowed centre-half Ladell – with father Jerry watching on in amazement, linesman’s flag in hand – to convert the first of his brace with a glancing header from a free-kick to secure at 3-1 interval lead.

Several determined displays augmented Watford’s relatively comfortable second half; most notably the industrious Alan Lau and the always-assured Frank Smith in central midfield.

Gallichan put the result beyond doubt half-way through the second 45 when he capitalised on some lax Hamlet defending – but the spirited visitors kept coming and a deflection which looped onto the crossbar gave them renewed hope.

That was extinguished when Ladell’s flipped in mid-air to score the Hornets’ fifth with eight minutes remaining. Dulwich’s second, curled into the top corner, came just before full-time.

Thanks to Minibus maestro Kev Andrews for refereeing and to Ladell snr for picking up the flag duties.

It was a pleasure to welcome Dulwich for the game, and we hope to make the return journey later in the season.

Hornets: R Walker; Ainsley, Ladell, Salvidge, P Labbett; Lau, Smith, Moss, Kidby; T Labbett, Gallichan. Sub used: Sperinck.

Goalscorers: Ladell x 2, Gallichan x 2, T Labbett.

Brum hand out a baking bashing

IT was a humbling morning’s IFA football experience for the Hornets who were put to the sword; 8-0 the final score in favour of an efficient and ruthless We Are Birmingham team.

After a single, fleeting brief chance for WIFC, spurned from a set-piece, City’s supporters took an early lead on a scorching hot morning in Rickmansworth and never looked back. 

Watford had the odd good chance here & there but if they’d registered one or two goals, they’d have still only been consolation against an exhibition of expert marksmanship from the visiting team.

WIFC: Richardson; Ainsley, Willis, H Walker, Lau; Maloney, Frater, Salvidge, Parkins; Nicholls, Withey. 
Subs used: Ainsley, Labbett, Sperinck.

Young guns inspire sunny start to the season

WATFORD IFC kicked off season 2023/24 with a good-spirited game away away to Claret Shoemakers – running out 4-2 winners on a sunny morning in Daventry.

The match against Northampton Town’s fans started well for the travelling Hornets; two to the good within the first 15 minutes after Alfie Cooke shot low inside the far corner and Christian Frater lifted a 30-yard free-kick which floated high into the net over the stranded goalkeeper.

But the hosts were back on level terms just after the half-hour mark. Firstly WIFC midfielders and defenders escorted an opposition midfielder through to goal and he stroked home, then a set-piece goal led to the 2-2 interval score. Hornets’ keeper Scott Richardson had saved well one-one-one before their first and again after their second goal, with Watford struggling for rhythm as half-time approached.

However Watford, sporting some young debutants, had the legs on the Cobblers’ fans as the second half developed, enjoying the lion’s share of possession and chances. And indeed, the home team aided WIFC’s cause by scoring an own-goal from a corner to make it 3-2.

The fourth goal was a really well-worked move involving a number of passes before debutant Dan Rowlands slipped in Connan Brittain who tucked home for the killer fourth goal with 18 minutes left for play.

A good-natured game marked the first of season 2023/24; one which WIFC hope will bring plenty of games, goals and good fun along the way.

Hornets: Scott Richardson; Matt Ladell (c), Harry Walker, Harry Aldridge, Matt Ainsley; Christian Frater, Tom Labbett, Alby Salvidge; Charlie Hall, Alfie Cooke (debut), Alfie Parkins.
Subs used: Paul Labbett, RIchard Murphy, Connan Brittain, Dan Rowlands (debut), Saahil Sadiq.

Goals: Cooke, Frater, OG, Brittain.

Great Wall Cup revisited by Internet ‘Orns

Watford IFC was honoured to be asked to represent Watford FC in ‘The Great Wall Cup 2023′, staged inside the Inflatable Dome at the Hornets’ London Colney training facility.

Eight teams competed, each representing a team that featured in the original ‘Great Wall Cup’ in China itself some 40 years ago.

Players were drawn largely from local Asian communities, some tidy players among them – not least of which some of those who, along with organiser and recent WIFC debutant Alan Lau, form part of the ESEA (East & South-East Asian) Hornets Supporters group.

The 9-a-side format came in the form of pitches running across the giant Inflatable Dome surface, allowing for two matches to be played simultaneously from each of the two groups.

Watford should have won the first game, with debutant Connan Brittain hitting a post from close-range against a China team that were pleased to hold the Hornets to a goalless draw.

Having got a measure of the surface, WIFC played some good football in game two of three, scoring two late goals through Adam Gallichan and debutant Charlie Hall to round off a 3-1 victory over Korea after Brittain had opened the scoring only for the opposition to level quickly.

A swerving first-minute shot found Saahil Sadiq’s net in the final group game versus Hubei, with Watford needing to avoid defeat to secure a semi-final place. 

The Hornets never really recovered their composure and conceded a second goal to the eventual tournament winners, therefore exiting at the group stage when seemingly well placed to progress.

It was a typically eclectic mix of seasoned WIFCers and new teenage recruits that represented the club in good style and spirit.

There was no question marks about the Golden Boys’ top performer; manager Richard Walker singling out defender Trev Plumb as the club’s ‘Player of the Tournament’.


Saahil Sadiq (GK), Trevor Plumb, Harry Walker, Connor Church, Adam Gallichan, Charlie Hall (debut), Connan Brittain (debut), Sean Kidby, Stuart Nicholls, Ben Kelly, Daniel Moss, Stuart Sperinck, Paul Labbett.


Watford 0-0 China

Watford 3-1 Korea (Brittain, Gallichan, Hall)

Watford 0-2 Hubei

Conditions and Cobblers beaten amid cameos and chaos

RAIN-DRENCHED and mud-soaked, Watford IFC ran out 5-1 winners away to a spirited Claret Shoemakers side on a tiny pitch in the village of Cogenhoe.

It was a match which saw all the thrills & spills of good-natured Internet FA games in atrocious conditions and, for WIFC, the highlights included two debuts and a worrying three-minute cameo!

The Northampton Town fans’ team went ahead after 18 minutes, thanks to a mix-up in the Hornets’ rear-guard involving stand-in starting keeper Adam Gallichan. It left the Cobblers’ striker with an empty net to tap into with the visitors still trying to adjust to the going described as “Soft; Heavy in places” but some hardy souls stood in support on the touchline.

Upon his 50th appearance for the club, Matt Ladell was denied a quick-fire equaliser via a superb reflex save from the centre-half’s downward header.

But eight minutes before the break, Watford were level. Christian Frater got a toe to a cross from the right, diverting it into the path of Mark O’Connor, who flicked the ball home low into the far corner.

Level at the break, WIFC heeded the words of advice to keep the ball moving wide as often as possible. And, after a determined period of pressure from the hosts, Tom Labbett lifted home from 12 yards – the first of what would be a four-goal second-half salvo from the travelling Hornets.

Frank Smith followed in to tap home a rebound after Tom Labbett had seen his low shot saved and spilled by the Northampton custodian, then Gallichan – having passed the gloves on to Paul Shelock – nearly missed from four yards when O’Connor laid across a perfect low centre. Opening out his foot, Gallichan’s contact went immediately upward but the ball did bounce home off the underside of the crossbar.

Perhaps the most enjoyable part of the game – for not only purely footballing reasons – came within the final 12 minutes…

Dave Messenger entered the fray at left-back, but left the fray after less than three minutes of action. After a heavy challenge, a shortness of breath forced him to be replaced. It was nothing serious – simply 75-odd minutes stood getting cold & wet in the rain had taken its toll on the WIFC Hall-of-Famer.

Then the goal of the game, Watford’s fifth: a peach of a far-post cross delivered by Tyrone Brandy was swept home on the volley eight yards out by the marauding David Sitkowski. It was a goal far too good for the conditiions.

There was still time for a second debut of the morning, though. Alan Lau had played very respectably at right-back to make his Hornets’ bow, but now it was over to Sophie Lavender to enter the fray. And it was not only five minutes on the pitch but a chance for glory, as well; alas, she spurned a half-chance at the far post by sending the ball high into the trees behind the goal.

An fun morning’s football and a soaking for one and all – but great to get another WIFC fixture in the books. 

Hornets: Adam Gallichan; Alan Lau, John Sitkowski, Matt Ladell (c), Paul Labbett; Christian Frater, Frank Smith, Paul Shelock; Alby Salvidge, Ben Kelly, Romeo Brandy.

Subs used: Tyrone Brandy, Mark O’Connor, David Sitkowski, Cleveland Brandy, Tom Labbett, Dave Messenger, Sophie Lavender.

Five star Hornets too good for Cambridge

WATFORD IFC recorded a win to mark their first home fixture of the 2022/23 campaign; a comfortable 5-0 success over Abbey United on Parmiter’s School 4G surface.

Teenager Alfie Parkins scored his first two goals for the Hornets; the first less than 90 seconds after half-time to make it 3-0, and the second – pouncing on a rebound from Joe Withey’s shot which hit a post – only 12 minutes later.

It took some time during the first 45 for WIFC to take a grip on the game.  A resilient set of Cambridge United fans, playing the game in true IFA spirit throughout, provided doughty opposition and, combined with some lacklustre finishing, it took until 21 minutes into the contest for the deadlock to be broken; an own-goal with Parkins forcing the ball onto a covering defender and in from a low cross.

Cleveland Brandy scooted forward from right-back to drill home low into the far corner with eight minutes left before the interval, with time still for Joe Withey to plant an excellent headed chance just over the crossbar.

Parkins’ double then took the game away from the visitors whose threat to the Watford goal materialised mainly from dead-ball situations. Ben Kelly completed the Hornets’ scoring at the end of a flowing move to seal a 5-0 win on a warm morning for a game expertly refereed by WIFC manager Rich Walker.

It was great to have some support from Messrs Maloney (snr), Sperinck and Parkins (snr) but the last word goes to on-field Man of the Match Paul Withey, for keeping things simple throughout and getting through more minutes than planned because of an early injury suffered by David Sitkowski.

Hornets: Ben Bateman; Cleveland Brandy, Matt Ladell (c), John Sitkowski, David Sitkowski, Lamar St-Cyr, Alby Salvidge, Joe Withey; Paul Withey, Ben Kelly, Alfie Parkins. Subs used: Tyrone Brandy, Sam Elvery.

Goals: OG, Cleveland Brandy, Alfie Parkins x 2, Ben Kelly.

Celebratory season underway with defeat in Preston

WATFORD IFC were delighted to get their 25th anniversary 2022/23 campaign underway so early in the season; playing out a 4-1 defeat away to Preston North End Fans before taking in the main game at Deepdale soon after.

The Hornets sported two teenage debutants – Alfie Parkins and Joe Withey – as well as fellow 16-year-old Callum Maloney in midfield. At the other end of the age spectrum, 53-year-old debutant Simon Parkins – Alfie’s father – also lined up in the team alongside Dean Maloney and veteran player-manager Richard Walker.

And it was Withey who joined the ranks of WIFC’s 16-year-old goal-getters with a close-range finish after good work from Parkins junior, set away down the left by Walker. Essentially a consolation, the goal arrived 18 minutes from time after a typically strong PNE had fashioned a 4-0 interval lead with some neat interchange play down both flanks.

Being hurt by pace up front for the opposition, Walker switched Ben Kelly to a sweeper role and it served to stifle the host’s breakaway attempts. Paul Shelock’s experience was pushed into a holding midfield role, while Matt Ladell ably partnered Kelly with Stuart Sperinck filling in at full-back behind the determined Sam Elvery.

Nursing a sore ankle, Charlie Wood kept goal for the Hornets and had little chance with any of the Preston goals. 

So although Watford didn’t carve out many openings after the break, the 12-strong squad could be proud to have put a difficult first half behind then to effectively ‘win’ the second period and travel onwards to Deepdale with their heads held high.

Hornets: Charlie Wood; Simon Parkins, Matt Ladell (c), Paul Shelock, Dean Maloney; Sam Elvery, Joe Withey, Callum Maloney, Stuart Sperinck, Alfie Parkins; Ben Kelly. Sub used: Richard Walker.