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.

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