First Team 29/01/2018

Loan | Zárate Completes Move

Hornets forward Mauro Zárate has now officially completed a loan move to Argentine club Vélez Sarsfield.

Zárate, who has been on loan at Al Nasr in the UAE since September, will spend the remainder of the season with Vélez after Watford finally received paperwork in order to process the loan transfer.

Previous announcements were entirely premature as the agreements were only reached today.

29/01/2018

U23 Report | Watford 1-3 Crystal Palace

The Hornets' Under-23s were well beaten by Crystal Palace at a wet and windy London Colney on Monday afternoon.

A second-half strike from Under-18 scholar Jesus Cruz Cabrera couldn't inspire a Watford fightback, who found themselves two goals down at half-time and only some fine goalkeeping from Sam Howes kept Hayden Mullins' side in the game.

Watford named two members of their Under-18s squad in the starting 11, with Ben Jones playing as one of a three man defence alongside Max Ryan and Joy Mukena, and Cruz Cabrera spearheading the attack, flanked by Dion Pereira and Dennon Lewis. Four further scholars were named on the bench.

Palace started brightly and Hornets stopper Howes, who impressed in the recent win over Cardiff, had to be alert to beat away Jason Lokilo's shot in the first minute. He was called into action twice more in the opening 25 minutes as the Hornets struggled against the elements in the first period and came under sustained pressure.

Just before the half-hour mark, Howes made another stop to deny Lokilo and the Eagles looked certain to score as the rebound fell to Levi Lumeka. However, he twice saw goal-bound efforts blocked by Ashley Charles and Max Ryan who threw themselves in front of the goalline.

After Michael Phillips was perhaps a little fortunate to escape with only a yellow card for a two-footed lunge on Cruz Cabrera, Palace finally got their noses in front minutes before the interval. A corner was swung to the far post where it was met on the volley by Aaron Wan-Bissaka who fired high past the helpless Howes.

The Eagles doubled their lead right on the stroke of half-time when another corner caused problems for the young Hornets and James Daly reacted quickest from close range after Howes had produced yet another save. It was just reward for the visitors first half dominance.

Cruz Cabrera's strike had given the Hornets hope

But just four minutes into the second period, Watford found a way back into the game. Joy Mukena won the ball back high up the pitch and threaded a pass through for Cruz Cabrera to run onto and finish neatly past the onrushing keeper and halve the deficit.

Palace still posed the greater threat however and after more missed chances, they effectively wrapped up the points when James Daly burst clear midway through the half and slotted past Howes to restore the two-goal advantage.

The Hornets' keeper then excelled again to deny Michael Phillips a fourth.

Watford came close to making it a nervous final few minutes late on when 16-year old substitute Ryan Cassidy turned on the edge of the box to sidestep a defender but was denied a goal by the outstretched fingertips of Dion Henry in the Palace goal.

HORNETS | Howes; Jones, Ryan, Mukena; Eleftheriou (c), Stewart, Charles, D.Sesay; Lewis, Cruz Cabrera (Cassidy 62), Pereira.

Subs not used: Gartside (GK), Tricker, S.Sesay, Stray.