Under-18: Watford 1-2 Crystal Palace
Watford’s Under-18s were narrowly defeated 2-1 on Saturday morning (February 18), despite having taken the lead through a Josh Roe free-kick.
Palace mustered the perfect response to falling behind and sealed all three points through two second-half strikes from James Daly and David Boateng.
The Hornets looked comfortable early on, and fashioned good scoring opportunities through Jesus Cruz Cabrera’s long-range shot, Max Ryan’s curling effort and Jubril Adedeji’s strike which was blocked.
It took until the 40th minute for Andrew Thomas to be forced into a save for the Hornets. The shot-stopper pulled off a fantastic stop with his legs as he denied Victor Fundi from heading in the opener.
Fundi went close again moments later but poked his shot wide of the far-post shortly before the half-time whistle sounded.
The second-half was an exciting affair, with the Eagles continuing where they had left off, Joseph Hungbo shooting narrowly wide within the opening minute.
But it was the Hornets that stormed into the lead just moments later. Treon Johnson was fouled outside the Palace box as he looked to pick out a pass.
Josh Roe whipped the ball into the box, however it evaded everyone, including goalkeeper Matthew Funnell in goal, and snuck into the bottom corner.
Palace responded instantly to the set-back and were level just a minute later. A delightful ball was fizzed in from the right and Daly did brilliantly to nip in ahead of Thomas and slam the ball in.
The visitors had a second with their next effort on goal some 20 minutes later. Good buildup play resulted in Boateng finding himself played in on goal. The midfielder made no mistake as he guided the ball high into the roof of the net.
Good chances fell Watford’s way, but Johnson failed to hit the target with a header whilst unmarked in front of goal, and Adedeji was denied a penalty despite clearly being bundled over inside the box.
The Hornets' goalscorer Roe would have one final chance but his curling shot was saved by Funnell, and Horseman’s side now have a week to prepare for their trip to Colchester next weekend.
Under-18 Coach David Horseman was frustrated in the manner his side gave away their lead and felt that on another day some fortune, notably a late penalty claim, might have caused the result to have gone his side’s way.
“Overall it was an even game and I’m disappointed with the two goals that we conceded, as I can’t remember Andrew Thomas having to make too many saves,” he said at full time, speaking to watfordfc.com.
“We got into some good areas but our quality in the final third was lacking. To lose is hard to take and to concede so soon after scoring is a complete lack of concentration. Five minutes after you score is a crucial moment to remain compact and tight, and we failed to do that.
“For the first goal a cross has gone between our defence and our goalkeeper. There should be someone there to clear that away. But to be honest I thought we had some good passages of play on a good surface today.
"With a bit of luck, and what I felt was a stonewall penalty at the end, we would have got something from the game. It wasn’t a classic performance from us but we move on ready for next weekend.”
HORNETS: Thomas (GK); Sesay, Ryan, Huja (Gordon, 58), Rogers; Forster, Charles (c) (Stray, 58), Cruz Cabrera, Roe; Johnson, Adedeji.
Subs not used: Lacy (GK), Tricker, Bennetts.