Under-23's 20/09/2019

Under-23: Watford 2-1 Bristol City

By Kevin Affleck

Hayden Mullins got the result the doctor ordered on Friday (September 20) after his Under-23 side bounced back from the heavy defeat to Leeds United with a confidence-restoring win over Bristol City.

First-half goals from Kane Crichlow and Joseph Hungbo put the Hornets in complete control before a late strike from Tommy Conway made things slightly more uncomfortable than they ought to have been.

That’s now four wins out of five for this newly-configured squad and a good way to respond to the 6-0 defeat at Elland Road.

“In spells we were good,” said Mullins. “We perhaps should have been further in front than just two, and 2-0 is always a dangerous score. We spoke at half-time about keeping the same mentality and seeing the game out. 

“We were okay in the second half but I’m just disappointed with the late goal, really. We spoke about getting the clean sheet and getting into good habits, so the lads are very disappointed about that one. But that gives us something to work on and tidy up.”

The Hornets’ bench had a real Irish feel to it, with Republic of Ireland youth international Ryan Cassidy coming on for his first appearance of the season and then former Bohemians midfielder Bosun Lawal being handed his first shot at this level.

“It was good to see Ryan back,” said Mullins. “He looked sharp and bright. Bo came on and he looks a really good player. He’s come over from Ireland and is still young. I was impressed with how he went about his game today. It’s a reward for how well he has been doing for the Under-18s, so it was a well done for him and Jack Burchell who was also on the bench.”

HORNETS: Parkes; Balogun (C), Barrett, Spencer-Adams, Zeegelaar; Hungbo (Trialist 68), Wise (Lawal 76), Whelan, Bennetts; Crichlow, Dalby (Cassidy 57).

Subs not used: White, Burchell. 

First Team 20/09/2019

Kabasele: “We Need To Be Confident In Ourselves”

Christian Kabasele knows the Watford defence will have their work cut out keeping Manchester City at bay at the Etihad, but doesn’t want to rule out an upset before a ball is kicked.

“In the Premier League, anything is possible, anything can happen,” the centre-back told Premier League Productions on Thursday. “We cannot start the game thinking today we are going to lose and that it’s a question of conceding as few goals as possible.

“We want to play this game 100 per cent. It’s a 50/50 game when we start the game, so we have a chance to win and we will try to do it.”

Norwich City showed last weekend that the reigning champions can be vulnerable by pulling off a shock 3-2 win at Carrow Road, but Manchester City bounced back in style with a 3-0 Champions League win at Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday.

Kabasele knows the Sky Blues will be looking for a win against the Hornets to stay within touching distance of leaders Liverpool in the Premier League too.

“They will want to put things right this weekend, so this is a big challenge,” he said. “We did a very good first-half last season there, so we need to be confident in ourselves.”

Quique Sánchez Flores said in his pre-match press conference that heads have been lifted at London Colney this week, following an inspiring comeback against Arsenal on Sunday, and Kabasele feels the squad have noticed the change in attitude.

“He [Sánchez Flores] talks a lot about the confidence,” said Kabasele. “He says, ‘Look guys you are a very good squad, it’s just a question of being confident now and trying to trust ourselves that we can beat anybody in the league’.

“It will take some time maybe but with the right attitude we can do something. He is really lively in the training, he’s more vocal. He is trying to push us every time on the pitch to do the right thing in the right moment.”

Priority number one for Sánchez Flores is to pick up points and push his team up the table. Kabasele will not ignore the Hornets’ league position, but does not want to get hung up on it so early into the season.

“We are last in the Premier League and we need to not be so much focused on this, as there are only five games played,” he said. “I will not say it’s not really important, but when we look, we are only maybe two or three points off. We need to be focused on ourselves, not look at the league table at the moment and try to get a result at the weekend.”