Under-23's 21/10/2019

Mullins: “He's Getting Goals To Go With His Endeavour”

Sam Dalby scored his fourth goal in three games and his sixth of the season to earn the Under-23s a point at the death at Coventry, keeping Hayden Mullins’ side at the top of the table and continuing their unbeaten run.

The match was first versus second in the Professional Development League and the Golden Boys dominated both in terms of possession and chances created at the Alan Higgs Centre in Coventry, but the hosts took the lead after 15 minutes when Gervane Kastaneer finished a counter-attack.

After countless Hornets efforts failed to find the back of the net it felt like it just wasn’t going to be Watford’s day. That is until Dalby cropped up with a real poacher’s finish in the 85th minute to level the scores and stifle Coventry’s hopes of leapfrogging Watford in the table.

“It’s a very good point and I think we were the better team from the first minute if I’m being honest. We had the lion’s share of possession, we camped them a lot in their own half and the amount of chances we had, we were unlucky to be 1-0 down,” said Mullins.

“I thought it was going to be one of those games we weren’t going to get back into despite the amount of chances we had. In the end, to come away from home and dominate possession like we did and be disappointed with a point, for us it’s a compliment to the boys.

“The most pleasing thing for me was the character today and the way they kept going and didn’t get too down after the amount of chances we’ve missed.”

The young Hornets dominated out wide, with many chances coming through Joe Hungbo and the spritely Jayden Bennetts, who had the beating of Coventry left-back Morgan Williams from the third minute when he set up Dalby for a chance which was arrowed just wide.

“He [Bennetts] did very, very well, in fact both of them did,” said Mullins. “Joe put some great crosses in during the first half and Jayden was getting past his man, but we just sort of lacked that one killer pass to unlock their defence and get a goal.”

But a goal eventually came through the towering Dalby, who was an invaluable outlet throughout and continued his goalscoring streak by reacting quickest to a parried late Bennetts effort.

“[Dalby’s] contribution is very good, in both boxes he’s a good presence for us and he’s a very good option for us in free play as well. I’m pleased he’s getting his goals as well to go with his endeavour and his work rate because he works well for the team,” said Mullins.

“It was a tough test today. They had a couple of first team lads involved which is always a good test for our boys, to go up against them and see the difference in physicality and things like that. It was very pleasing.”

Henry Wise was dismissed in injury time for a second yellow card after a strong tackle, but the young Hornets comfortably held out for the draw.

“Eventually getting back into it and going one man down as well is a different test for them, and I was pleased with the character,” said Mullins. “The season’s not over and there’s a bigger picture we need to look towards, so we can’t let it slip.”

HORNETS: Parkes (GK); Balogun (C), Barrett, Spencer-Adams (Trialist 72), Hudson; Wise, Whelan; Bennetts, Hinds (Forster 77), Hungbo (Cassidy 77); Dalby

Subs not used: Hoskins (GK), Adebiyi

First Team 21/10/2019

Chalobah: “A Point Against A Top Six Team Is Positive”

Nathaniel Chalobah believes only the third ever positive result at the home of one of the 'Big Six' since the club were promoted to the Premier League should be viewed in an extremely positive light.

The England international worked his socks off at the base of the midfield to protect the early lead given to the side by midfield partner Abdoulaye Doucouré and was as crestfallen as anyone at full-time after seeing Dele Alli benefit from a couple of decisions to fire the hosts level four minutes from time.

But the midfielder said everyone connected with the club should view the result through the prism of a half-full glass and recognise that it was only the third time in 26 matches they have boarded the team bus with something tangible from an away game against one of the Premier League elite.

“It's massive,” he said in our post-match show Added Time. “To get a point against any of the top six is a positive thing. To come to Spurs away and get a point, you'd be chuffed with that, but we are disappointed inside as we could have got three.

“We showed great character, great resilience and it's hard to come here and try and play. Spurs are a very good team. They pressed us quite high and we showed we could get out of the press and create chances. We have to take the positives out of every situation right now.”

The only other occasions the team has avoided defeat at one of the top six clubs were at Chelsea under Quique Sánchez Flores in December 2015 and then when Walter Mazzarri pulled off a stunning win at the Emirates in early 2017. Chalobah explained just how hard the team had to work for what they got at Tottenham's new stadium on Saturday.

“It's difficult because you have a lot of time without the ball,” he said. “It's tough to show that quality because it's hard running and closing areas and closing the spaces so they don't hurt us. The big positive is that we are starting to show that strength as a unit.

“We were very unlucky to concede. The last game at home we did very well not to concede [too]. It was a different story at the start of the season and this gaffer has embedded us and closed the gaps to stop teams from scoring first and maybe create something up their end.”

Chalobah scrubbed up well as the deepest lying member of a midfield three in what was only his second league start since early December. He screened the back five well, broke up play nicely and used the ball economically. A match highlight was the sliding interception he made in his own box near the end.

“It was tough,” he said. “In the first 15 minutes I touched the ball four times, I think, but I had to make sure I kept closing the gaps as Clevs and Doucs were going out. It was hard as although we had three at the back and three in midfield, they kept putting Kane and Luca and Dele in the space.

“We handled it very well. They didn't have very many clear-cut chances and we handled it well. It's just frustrating leaving with a point but when we first came here, if you had offered us a point, we'd have taken it.”