David Horseman’s Under-18s were left feeling disappointed following a narrow defeat to Charlton Athletic on Saturday morning (February 4) at London Colney.
Hornets goalkeeper Andrew Thomas made an impressive penalty save early on, but the Addicks scored what proved to be the winner deep into first-half stoppage time.
Horseman’s side had chances to draw level through Josh Roe, Jubril Adedeji and Treon Johnson, but it was top-of-the-table Charlton who secured all three points.
The match started at a frantic pace and within two minutes a penalty was awarded to the visitors as Mustapha Bangura-Williams was tripped.
Midfielder Albie Morgan stepped up and hit his effort low to Thomas’ right. The shot-stopper however got down superbly to deny the powerful effort and ensure the scores remained level.
The Addicks created two chances at goal midway through the half as Alex Willis firstly headed narrowly wide from a corner before he once again failed to test Thomas, heading over when well-positioned in front of goal.
Chances finally fell Watford’s way shortly after as Roe rolled the ball to central-defender Marian Huja from a free-kick. He fired a low shot goalwards which just deflected wide off the defending wall.
Harry Forster and Johnson both went close as the former’s shot hit the side-netting before the latter just steered Roe’s delivery from a free-kick wide of the target.
The Addicks responded and were dominant for the closing stages of the half. Willis struck the bar and Bangura-Williams saw a shot well held by Thomas.
But deep into stoppage time the visitors scored what proved to be the winner. Morgan swung a corner into the box from the left which Brendan Sarpong-Wiredu met with a firm header, which he guided past Thomas.
Forster was an impressive outlet down the left-flank and he almost set up Johnson for a simple tap-in, but for a fantastic clearance by Charlton’s Romarno Simpson, who impressed throughout the encounter.
Adedeji saw a low shot saved and Roe just diverted an excellent ball wide from David Sesay, as the Hornets looked to get back into it.
The chances continued to fall Watford’s way but neither Johnson from a Roe corner nor Adedeji could put their side on level terms.
Thomas in goal however had to remain alert as he saved well from Morgan’s strike, before pulling off a fantastic reflex save to deny substitute James Gody.
It proved to be too little too late for the Hornets as the Addicks saw out the victory. Horseman’s side travel to QPR next weekend as they look to return to winning ways.
Despite the result, David Horseman was pleased with the positions his side got into, and the fact they created good chances against a top side.
“We started slowly in the first 10 minutes but after that I thought it was a really even game, and a good one against a side that is romping the league this year,” he said, speaking exclusively to watfordfc.com after the game.
“Between the boxes I don’t think there was much difference between the two sides. They probably had a little bit more quality in the attacking third though on the day in terms of being clinical.
"We got in great areas on so many occasions though, which was really pleasing, but the ability to pick someone out or to get in front of the man was lacking. We’ve got to be more clinical, but that’s the bit we need to keep striving to improve at the moment.”
A number of Horseman’s players from last season, notably Michael Folivi and Brandon Mason, have made first-team debuts recently, and the Under-18 Coach believes that should encourage the club’s youngsters to up their performances even more.
“There’s clearly an opportunity now at this club for the young players to progress,” he stated.
“The players train a lot with the first-team here. They train and play with the Under-23s too so there’s definitely a route into the first-team if they want it enough. That has to give the lads a boost now.
“It’s amazing to have seen Mason and Folvii make their first-team debuts recently. When it’s players you’ve spent a lot of time working with it’s fantastic, not just for myself and my staff but everyone in the Academy.”
HORNETS: Thomas (GK), Sesay, Gordon, Kaikay, Huja, Mukena, Forster, Stray (c), Adedeji, Roe, Johnson.
Subs: Lacy (GK), Harrison, Mullings, Bennetts, Tricker.