Stockport County Paper View (h)

Last updated : 08 January 2007 By Gary Holmes

Ashikodi makes mark as Watford sink Stockport

Watford's teenage striker Moses Ashikodi, signed from Rangers on New Year's Eve, scored their final goal on Saturday when they came from behind to secure a morale-boosting 4-1 victory against Stockport County. "I am not big-headed or anything but I can score the goals to help us stay up," he said later.

Their manager, Aidy Boothroyd, whose team are 10 points adrift of safety, aims to bring in three players this month, Fulham's Collins John among them for £3.25m. The possible departure of Ashley Young is a worry, though, after Boothroyd hinted that some clubs had been talking to the England Under-21 international without permission. "He has on occasion told me things that perhaps other players wouldn't tell their managers. He hasn't mentioned any names and I don't ask him the questions . . . There are some things that remain private for the good of the game."

David Poole gave Stockport the lead but Malky Mackay scored from two set pieces either side of a Tommy Smith goal. Ashikodi then latched on to a woeful miskick from the goalkeeper James Spencer for his first senior goal. The Guardian

Boothroyd hints at Young tap-up

Adrian Boothroyd, the Watford manager, is unlikely to choose counter-espionage as a new career should he find the struggle to stay in the Barclays Premiership too much like hard work. Boothroyd tells his players when a rival club are interested in signing them, expects his players to tell him when they have been approached — as in the case of Ashley Young, whom Boothroyd yesterday hinted had been tapped up — and even lets rival managers witness the secrets of his coaching methods.

In October, the Football Association of Ireland, with Jim Gannon, the Stockport County manager, in tow, visited Vicarage Road as part of its Pro Licence course. “I did a couple of hours with the candidates and Jim was one of them, so he knew exactly what we did. I don't think I'll be doing that again,” Boothroyd said.

Fortunately for Boothroyd, Gannon's unexpected advantage over other managers of FA Cup underdogs lasted for only half an hour. In that opening 30 minutes, Stockport appeared capable of outwitting their Premiership opponents and took the lead with the goal of the match when David Poole slotted the ball past Ben Foster, the Watford goalkeeper.

Once the home team had equalised through Malky Mackay, however, Watford remembered their status and by the end were treating their fans to so many step-overs that they must have left the ground quite giddy. Boothroyd hopes that the win will give their league form a boost. “History shows me we have been better when we have had games close together, so we'll stay in the Cup as long as we can,” he said. The Times

Boothroyd rewarded for putting faith in Moses

Having negotiated the potentially tricky but ultimately fragile FA Cup obstacle that was Stockport County, Aidy Boothroyd now has the less tangible transfer window to negotiate his way through with relegation, which is already probable, the consequence should he fail.

The Watford manager has brought in three players, one of whom, Moses Ashikodi, made his debut and scored the fourth goal against the League Two side on Saturday. Should Collins John agree to his £3.25m transfer from Fulham to Watford this week that will take Boothroyd closer still to the six players he has identified he needs to bring in this month.

He said: "Now we've got a few more pounds in the coffers it's important to get more depth because in matches, even after 60 to 70 minutes, you see opposition teams bring on international players. We can't do that and we need to be able to do that. It's important to have depth up front and we've not had that and it's a nice position to be in. I just wish we had [the injured] Marlon King playing as well."

The Hornets' situation is perilous. The Premiership's bottom club are 10 points away from safety and have only won once in the League all season.

Yet Boothroyd is arguably the Premiership's most optimistic manager too, always trying to extract a positive from the bleakest of situations, which is what his club faces now.

His approach to players is interesting, too. Having brought to the club King, a player who spent time in jail, he has now signed Ashikodi, who was sacked from Millwall for brandishing a knife in training.

The 19-year-old is already with his fifth club, having also been to West Ham, Gillingham on loan and Rangers, which was his last port of call. The England youth international, who counts Theo Walcott and Micah Richards among his friends, is looking to do what King did, and give Boothroyd something back on his investment.

He said: "I have grown up a lot. I listen a lot. Back then [at Millwall] I was a big fish in a small pond. Maybe I am not as good as I thought I was. But I have to dig in and work harder. The manager has shown a lot of faith in me and I have to repay that."

David Poole gave the visitors a surprise lead in this encounter but two goals from Malky Mackay and one from Tommy Smith saw off Jim Gannon's side before Ashikodi's tap-in. Between here and May, that is as easy as it will get for Boothroyd. The Independent

Watford set to go on a spree

Aidy Boothroyd's time has arrived. January is the month that will determine whether Watford's stay in the Premiership lasts beyond a single season.

The transfer window is wide open and Watford are the Premiership's busiest club. Three players have already arrived and three more are targeted. A bid of £3.25 million on one, Collins John of Fulham, has been accepted and he is now the subject of Boothroyd's persuasive powers. Whether or not Ashley Young stays at the club is another matter. Aston Villa are keen but Boothroyd said: "In the position we are in he is not someone I want to let go."

One new recruit, centre forward Moses Ashikodi, has already succeeded where many Watford strikers — bar Young — have failed this season. On Saturday, his debut, he scored a goal. Ashikodi is attempting to rebuild a career that has stalled since he was released by Millwall for pulling a knife on a fellow player in training. "I was in the same England youth team as Micah Richards and Theo Walcott so I have some catching up to do," he said.

Ashikodi added the fourth goal after a mistake by keeper James Spencer. David Poole had put Stockport ahead but they were vulnerable to crosses and Malky Mackay turned a corner in at the far post. Tommy Smith added a second before Mackay scored again. Daily Telegraph