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.