First Team 10/02/2020

Doucouré: “We'll Fight Until The End”

Abdoulaye Doucouré is relishing the attacking midfield role from which he has now scored three times in six games, but was bitterly disappointed his effort against Brighton was not enough to seal three points.

“I scored an own goal in the first game of the season and I wanted to score in this game to help the team,” said the midfielder.

“I’m pleased with the goal, but the result is the most important thing and we’re not so happy with that.

“I looked forward when I regained the ball and I went straight at the goal. I like to go forward and I saw a little opportunity to shoot.”

When asked if his performances have got better since Nigel Pearson ushered him further up the pitch, the 27-year-old said he has noticed an improvement in his overall contribution.

“I think so, because I score more goals and I am more able to help the team,” he said.

“But the most important thing is the team, the way I can play to help my teammates. Everyone did good things and yes, we conceded a goal, but we’re good going into the next game.

“We’re a little bit disappointed about the result but we will carry on and we’ll fight until the end.”

The Hornets were unable to push on and extend their lead after Doucouré opened the scoring, with the Seagulls piling the pressure on in the second half and eventually forcing a mistake for the equaliser.

“It’s happened a lot this season, in the second half we come back a little bit deeper,” said Doucouré.

“But this is the way, we’re in an away game, 1-0 up so we need to defend, and we need to be compact.

“We were unlucky in this game to concede a goal, but I think the lads did a great job, we defended together, and I think it was unlucky at the end.”

Under-23's 10/02/2020

Under-23: Ipswich Town 2-2 Watford

Academy Manager Richard Thomas felt the experience of playing with nearly half-a-dozen players from the first team offset the disappointment of only picking up a point from a below-par performance for the Under-23s at Ipswich Town.

Tom Cleverley, Ignacio Pussetto, João Pedro, Tom Dele-Bashiru and Callum Whelan were all requested to play in the Professional Development League fixture by Head Coach Nigel Pearson and all shaped up well.

Cleverley played for the first time since the end of October because of an Achilles issue, completing 45 minutes before being replaced in a pre-planned move. João Pedro scored his first goal in English football, Pussetto set up the goal for his fellow South American, Dele-Bashiru laid on the second equaliser for Sam Dalby while Whelan played for 76 minutes, spending 45 alongside Cleverley, the player he grew up watching while at Manchester United.

It will, however, not be a game that lives long in the memory, played as it was in filthy conditions on a difficult pitch. 

"It was a very ugly game of football," said Thomas. "The conditions didn't help, but give Ipswich credit – they are a good side, played very well, worked hard and played some good football. We didn't move the ball well enough or cleanly enough and didn't play as well as we can with the ball. 

"We left some basics out of our play and were sloppy, but when you bring five players into the group who have not worked on what you have been focusing on, that has an impact. That's not an excuse: it's the reality of gelling five players into the side. But there is the big plus of the experience for the young lads of playing with those five players. Nacho [Pussetto] worked so hard, both Toms were excellent, JP was very creative when he got it and was a real attacking threat. They are the positives."

The result, against an Ipswich side now unbeaten in five, keeps the team at the top of the South Division and comes swiftly on the back of Friday's cup win over Fulham.

"We showed great resilience and character to come back from a goal down each time and you have to respect the point sometimes," said Thomas after Allan Viral twice put the Tractor Boys in front. "We came to a tough environment, played in tough conditions, so we'll take the point and move on." 

HORNETS: Parkes (C); Barrett, Perkins, Spencer-Adams, Green; Cleverley (Dalby 46), Whelan (Wise 76), Dele-Bashiru; Pussetto, Cassidy, João Pedro (Bennetts 67).

Subs not used: Balogun, Roberts (GK).