Queens Park Rangers




Watford Under-23s played out an entertaining goalless draw with plenty of chances at both ends, at QPR’s Harlington Training Ground.

The Hornets started the game in the ascendancy with Kwadwo Baah key to the early positive periods of play. The winger first played provider for Ryan Cassidy, but the striker hit his shot wide of the post and then Baah tried his luck, firing just past the post.

Cassidy was heavily involved throughout as well, forcing a good save out of Dillon Barnes in the QPR net early on having been played in by Jimiel Chikukwa, who was making his first appearance since signing a permanent deal with the Hornets.

For the remainder of the half, Watford began to lose their grip on the game which opened the door for more QPR shots on goal. As a result, Vincent Angelini had to be alert to make multiple good saves to deny the home side their breakthrough goal, with the best stopping Raheem Conte’s curling effort with a high-flying dive.

After the restart, the rain came pouring down which made playing conditions difficult. The weather certainly didn’t stop Chikukwa's search for his first goal as an official Under-23, but his strike was straight at the goalkeeper.

QPR were a much better side in the second half but were unable to convert their chances much like the Hornets, who came closest through substitute Henry Wise. However, his free-kick produced a diving save from Barnes, assuring that the game ended without a goal.

Under-23 Head Coach Omer Riza was pleased with the first-half display in which the Hornets created most of their clear-cut chances, but acknowledged that you have to take your chances when controlling the match.

“It was one of those games really,” Riza said.

“In the first half, we had an abundance of chances. We could’ve scored four, five goals. If you don’t put your chances away it can fuel the opposition to continue and press a little harder.

“We came in at half-time and I wasn’t too disappointed. I knew the fact that they hadn’t put their chances away could cause issues.”

During the interval, Riza explained to his side that he expected more in the second half, but following a resurgence from QPR after the break, he felt a draw was a fair result.

“We said that we wanted more of the same but needed a bit more quality in possession,” Riza replied.

“We handed the ball over too many times, we countered quite a bit because QPR like to leave bodies forward. We needed to be better in possession going forward, we turned the ball over too many times.

“QPR have always had good rotation in the midfield and like to play, they are composed and progress. As long as we end up in good areas of the pitch and maintain a good shape and structure it shouldn’t be too much of a problem, which it wasn’t.

“In general, in the second half there wasn’t too much between the two teams. It’s just about giving them the message to create more chances and put the ball in the back of the net, which we didn’t manage to do in the second half because we didn’t create much. I’m probably happy with a draw.”

Riza was content with his team and highlighted a solid performance from his defensive players, a sign of progress since the start of the campaign.

“The positives for me are we haven’t conceded, and we haven’t lost the game,” he added.

“Four, five weeks ago the more the game went on, the more chance we had to concede. We were strong in that respect today so I’m happy with that.

“Vincent, when it comes to shot-stopping, pulled off some great saves. I thought Derek (Agyakwa) and Andi (Janjeva) were solid at the back and Jimiel (Chikukwa) worked hard up top without much support. Everyone worked hard and it was a fair point.

“It’s one of them. I felt that three points were there to take at half-time and then at the end I’m happy to take a point. It was a bit end-to-end which I don’t like but we go away with a point.”


Watford: Angelini, Andrews, Morris, Conteh, Agyakwa (C), Janjeva, Baah, McKiernan (Forde, 80), Cassidy, Crichlow (Wise, 70), Chikukwa

Subs not used: Marian (GK), O'Brien, Manning

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