Under-18's 03/02/2020

Hart On U18s: “They Back Themselves Against Whoever”

By Hamish Rogers

It was a familiar story for the Under-18s on Saturday (February 1) as the team fought back from a losing position yet again to gain a valuable point against Charlton Athletic.

After conceding a penalty early in the game, Watford were back on level terms shortly after half-time through an unlikely source, as makeshift right-back Jordan Harrison curled in a wonderful effort from distance into the far corner with his left foot. The result sees the young Hornets remain in second, just four points behind leaders Millwall.

“It will feel like two points dropped, but that just shows what a good place that we’re in,” said Under-18 Assistant Coach Tom Hart. “Charlton Athletic are a really good academy, third in the league, they’ve come here and we feel like we did enough to beat them.”

Watford got off the mark quickly in harsh and windy conditions, enjoying much of the possession in the opening ten minutes. But Charlton’s first real attack of the game resulted in a penalty in the 15th minute, as stand-in centre-half Bosul Lawal was adjudged to have fouled the away side's forward. The spot-kick was coolly converted as goalkeeper James Hoskins was sent the wrong way.

Skipper Dom Hutchinson had a handful of chances to level the scores before the break but could not convert, and the young Hornets went into half-time trailing.

But this team has developed a knack for getting back into games from a losing position and started the second half strongly. They were rewarded just three minutes after the restart. Some lovely build-up down the right channel allowed Harrison some space to roam in-field and the full-back opened his body up to curl a stunning effort past the goalkeeper.

“He’s filled in at right-back today, he’s naturally a midfield player and has come in off the right and scored a really good goal with his left foot,” said Hart, “I’m pleased for Jordan, he works so hard every single day and he hasn’t missed a training session since day one of pre-season.”

From thereon out, Watford enjoyed the lion's share of possession and were able to pick out Hutchinson on a number of occasions, but just lacked the clinical edge so often demonstrated by the forward. The best of his chances came with just 15 minutes left to play. Sonny Blu Lo-Everton, who was playing on the left, whipped a cross into the box which Hutchinson met well, but his header was denied by the bar. It just wasn’t his day.

In the end it was not another victory from behind, but Hart was encouraged by the fight demonstrated to once again salvage something from a losing position.

“We’ve given away what we thought was quite a soft penalty, there were two comings together in the box and I’m not sure which one the referee gave it for, but we were gutted to concede that one,” he said.

“But whenever they do go down in games, they know they’ve got enough to change it. They back themselves against whoever they play against, which is a really good quality. This was a good day for their development.”

HORNETS: Hoskins (GK), Harrison, Maclean, Burchell, Lawal, Janjeva, McKiernan, Horsewood, Hutchinson, Thompson, Lo-Everton.

Subs not used: Watt, Hudd, Hunter, Muwonge, Hall.

First Team 02/02/2020

Welbeck: “I'm Buzzing To Be Back”

Danny Welbeck is desperate to make a significant contribution to the team now he is back from injury.

Welbeck made his first appearance yesterday since October and looked very bright, producing one bit of skill in front of The Graham Taylor Stand and then a crowd-pleasing charge down on the other side soon after. 

His return was the big positive to emerge from a gut-wrenching defeat at home to the Toffees and his availability bodes well for the run-in.

“It's difficult having been out through injury,” said Welbeck on Added Time. “It's great to get back out on the pitch, it's a good moment for me. But it's a bittersweet day. I'm buzzing to be back out on the pitch...and back involved with the lads, but the result is not something you can be happy about.  

“It's difficult to take the defeat considering the position we were in. There are lessons we've got to learn from and see how we can come back from these disappointing moments. How you deal with these up and downs will test your character and make you who you want to be.”

Welbeck has had his fair share of disappointment to deal with, but he's one of the most upbeat and humble characters around the place. He's been working overtime to try and get back in the best possible shape.

“I've just wanted to be on the pitch doing what I can to help the boys and help the club get the results that we want. It's difficult watching from the sidelines. I'm happy to be back involved and to try and make some impact for the team,” he said.

Nigel Pearson is delighted to have a player of Welbeck's pedigree available again. The 29-year-old not only brings firepower to the front-line, he has been also been around the block long enough to be able to help the team deal with a set back or two.

“The manager said a few words and everyone was really down,” he said. “We need to look at it, analyse it and see where we went wrong. We've got to learn form these mistakes and make sure it doesn't happen again. These unfortunate moments happen. You go through so many ups and downs in life and you just want to try and keep them to a minimum. We'll come back stronger.”

On the plus side, Welbeck has 33 minutes under his belt to take into the key game with Brighton on Saturday.

“It's a massive match next week, but we've got to play the game and not the occasion. It's important to prepare well tactically, mentally and physically. We want to get points from every single game.”