Watford Under 18s currently sit third in the Professional Development League South, winning five of their first 10 games and scoring 25 goals in the process.
They started the season in blistering form, winning their opening three games, however since then results haven’t been as consistent and the young Hornets are without a home win since August. However, with two wins in their last three games, Under 18s Head Coach Paul Hardyman believes his side are finally recapturing their early season form.
“We started the season on fire, scoring five in one, four in the next and three in another, so that was great. We drew the next one after that and we have had a little wobble.” he said.
“We changed a couple of things and the lads didn’t quite get it so we’ve reverted back and now we’re back on winning ways again.”
Tomorrow (Saturday, November 11) they face a Millwall side who are sitting one place above in second. And after a slow start to the season they are unbeaten in their last four games and Hardyman believes his side will have to be at their very best to get back to winning ways at home against the Lions.
“All the games are tough, there’s no easy games. Every game is a real challenge and this won’t be any different. They’ll be well organised and they’ll have some good players but we’ve got to rise above that.”
“The effort has to be put in first of all and you have to earn the right to play against teams and that will be no different tomorrow.”
Watford boast one of the best defensive records in the league so far, conceding just 16 goals this campaign, a record bettered by just two other sides in the southern division.
Despite the impressive figures Hardyman believes there is still always room for improvement and this is something himself and the boys have been working on at the training ground.
“I said to the lads you’ve got to love defending and love throwing your body in the way, blocking shots, making tackles and putting your head where it hurts.” he said.
“It’s still not quite where I want it to be. I think we’ve only had one clean sheet so far so there’s still plenty of work to be done.”
A former left back for Portsmouth throughout the eighties he also featured for Sunderland in the 1992 FA Cup Final defeat against Liverpool. And Hardyman, in his first year in charge of the Under 18 side is no stranger to youth team football. He started coaching at former club Portsmouth at Under 8 level before working his way up to first team coach under Andy Awford in 2014.
Upon joining Watford, he began working with several different age groups throughout the academy system.
“I came to Watford and started with the under 12s and under 14s and then Harry Kewell left and David Horseman moved up and this became available and I was only too keen to fill the position.”
“It’s where I feel most comfortable. I love the developmental side of the game and I’m trying to pass on my experiences of many years involved in football.”
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