Watford Ladies FC U18 Warriors wrote their name in the history books as they turned on the style to beat Harvesters FC and clinch the inaugural Hertfordshire FA Girls U18 Cup at the County Ground, Letchworth.
This was the first year that there had been sufficient teams playing at this age group to introduce an Under 18 County Cup competition and both sides served up a worthy final, full of high-quality, entertaining football with plenty of goals and drama.
Watford came flying out of the blocks and almost went ahead after two minutes when captain Jessie Poulter’s shot hit both posts but somehow stayed out. They didn’t have long to wait though after Mia Gregory’s goal-bound effort bounced off a defender into the net. Chances at both ends followed with Charlotte Forster going close for the Warriors and Harvesters hitting the crossbar from a corner.
After 18 minutes the Junior Premier League outfit doubled their lead. Maria Toledo’s ball found Gregory who raced away from the defence and calmly slotted past the ‘keeper.
The team from St Albans continued to threaten and got themselves back into the game with a goal from Hollie Thornton. But Watford reasserted their authority and scored twice more before half time. Francesca Grazioli coolly fired home from the penalty spot, following a handball, before the unstoppable Gregory made it 4-1.
Harvesters, currently lying second in Division 1 of the Hertfordshire Girls Football Partnership League, came out strongly after the break. Having already forced a good save from Bonnie Mander in the Watford goal, they managed to pull it back to 4-2 thanks to Katie Leigh. However, all hopes of a memorable comeback were dashed after Summer Small’s Beckham-like long shot looped over the goalkeeper.
Maya Shah’s mazy run and clinical finish past the advancing goalkeeper put the result beyond doubt.
The final whistle signalled a superb 6-2 victory for the Warriors and sparked scenes of unbridled joy as the players celebrated on the pitch with their coaches, Beckz and Tunde Balogun, and the large Watford support went crazy in the stands.
Coach Beckz was full of praise: "The team played with heart and togetherness. They executed the game plan perfectly. They were strong in defence, confident in midfield and creative up front - some of the finishing was sublime. The squad worked hard to get here, and we would like to inspire all WLFC’s junior teams to produce great performances that will result in them representing our Club at the highest level.“