Under-23: Cardiff City 3-1 Watford
By Kevin Affleck
Academy Manager Richard Thomas has challenged his players to respond to the disappointing defeat at Cardiff City by turning up and producing a vastly-improved performance against Crystal Palace at Vicarage Road on Friday.
The Under-23 side host the Eagles in a 1pm kick-off and Thomas will demand an improvement on what he saw in the 3-1 defeat to the Bluebirds at the Cardiff Athletic Stadium.
“We won't bounce back if we repeat that,” said Thomas. “We need to be a completely different side, different athletically, different in our decision-making and just different in everything we do. Perhaps the environment and playing at Vicarage Road will make a difference but we need to be much better to get anywhere near Crystal Palace. There will need to be changes. I'd imagine a few first-teamers might play and that will be good. Perhaps their inclusion, and playing at the stadium, might raise the performance level.”
Isaak Davies scored twice for the hosts in the space of nine first-half minutes and then Mark Harris killed the game stone dead in the 88th minute after Sam Dalby had pulled one back with his 15th of the season. In front of first-team manager Neil Harris, Cardiff fielded Neil Etheridge and Sol Bamba – two players who featured in the Cardiff team that faced the Hornets in the Premier League clash in February – in their team, but Thomas felt that did not explain the result.
“It wasn't anything like our day,” he said. “Cardiff were just too strong, they were first to everything and had the level of intensity you need to win a game of football. We were nowhere near it and you've got to show you care. It's all very well saying it but talk is cheap – you've got to go out on the pitch and do it, which we didn't do.”
The defeat, coupled with victory for Coventry against Charlton, means the Hornets are now only joint top of the Professional Development League South Division on goal difference, but third-place Millwall are only one point behind with two games in hand.
“Of course we want to win the league,” said Thomas. “We want to develop and win games at the same time, that's the combination you are looking for. I'm not looking to sacrifice one – you should be able to do both at the same time. We just need to be better across the pitch, from front to back – and I include everybody in that. You can't give a team a two-goal start and expect to win a game. It just wasn't good enough.”
HORNETS: Parkes (GK), Barrett, Perkins, Green (Spencer-Adams 70); Whelan (C), Dele-Bashiru (Bennetts 57), Wise; Hungbo (Crichlow 57), Dalby, Cassidy.
Subs not used: Hoskins (GK)
The Hornets host Crystal Palace on Friday at 1pm in the first of three matches at Vicarage Road. Tickets are priced at £3 for adults or £1 for supporters aged 18 and under. Entry is free for 2019/20 Season Ticket holders with a valid season card. Click HERE for more info.