First Team 30/03/2019

Doucouré: “We Dominated”

Abdoulaye Doucouré scored late on at Old Trafford but couldn’t hide his disappointment that the Hornets didn’t come away with something more after dominating against Manchester United.

The Frenchman dinked the ball over David de Gea to give Watford hope of a stoppage-time comeback after Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial had put the hosts two goals to the good. 

But, that final cutting edge was otherwise lacking in a game where Javi Gracia’s side mustered 20 attempts at goal - eight of which were on target.

“We have to be more clinical,” said Watford’s goal-scorer. “They score with their first chance so we are really disappointed. 

“We dominated more than them today and we lost, so we have to learn from that.”

Doucouré scores at the end of a slick team move in the 90th minute at Old Trafford

The Hornets never gave up and made plenty of running against the Red Devils, irking the home support and giving the travelling fans something to sing about, but it is a mark of the ambition of this side that the overriding feeling is that this was an opportunity missed.

“We scored at the end but I think we deserved more today,” said Doucouré. “We know against Manchester United it is always tough. 

“We needed to score first, but we fought until the end. We made some mistakes and they took the lead.”

Under-23's 29/03/2019

U23 Report & Reaction: Watford 0-0 Cardiff

By Kevin Affleck

Hayden Mullins felt Dan Phillips showed the depth of his character by bouncing back from an early penalty miss to put in a commanding performance in the middle of midfield in the Professional Development League clash with Cardiff City.

The 18-year-old saw a well struck 15th-minute spot-kick saved by Cardiff 'keeper Matt Hall, but recovered to boss the midfield battle. Even the Cardiff coach commented on his all-action performance after the goalless draw at Wingate & Finchley FC.

"Dan was fantastic," said Mullins, the Lead Under-23 Professional Development Coach. "Dan is like that: he wants the ball regardless of if he's missed a penalty. He is a very good player and has been excellent all season. He has fantastic potential and a great attitude. He's a great lad to work with."

The draw ended a run of six straight defeats in the Professional Development League and brought about a first clean sheet since January 11. Towering defender Ben Tricker, 18, was key to keeping Cardiff at arm's length.

"Ben stepped up well," said Mullins. "He's been performing well in the 18s and was part of the side that got to the semi-final of the FA Youth Cup. Him and Joy Mukena did really well. There were some good performances all round, really.

"Adam Parkes made some good saves, including a double save in the second half. Jayden Bennetts is not a striker but he did well as the No.9, winning his fair share of headers and he was always a threat. It's a good learning curve for him and a few others as you won't go through your whole career playing in one position. Hopefully we are helping them and readying them for that next step."

The Under-23s have four games left this season, three away and one at Vicarage Road, and Mullins feels this result can provide a good springboard to help finish the campaign with some sort of flourish.

"There were lots of positives today," said Mullins. "We didn't get the win but overall we are very happy. We missed a penalty and looked like the team who would go on and get the result. But you don't get everything your own way in football and sometimes you have to dig in."

Mullins hopes to have Ryan Cassidy, Harry Forster and Harry Hudson available for the run-in. They all missed out against the Bluebirds through injury and illness.

"Ryan came back from international duty and had a bit of an upset belly so we didn't involve him," said Mullins. "Harry Forster came back training two weeks ago, but he re-injured his ankle and had a bit of a set-back. He's back out on the pitch running so hopefully we'll have him back soon. Harry Hudson tweaked his thigh in the Under-18s game at Crewe last week and he's having a bit of treatment. Hopefully he'll be back in training in the next week or so."

HORNETS: Parkes; Mullings (Suckling 87), Tricker, Mukena (C), Leighton; Phillips, Yamfam, Adebiyi; Trialist (Sankoh 62), Bennetts, Trialist (Sesay 77).

Subs not used: Trialist and Trialist.