U23 Report & Reaction: Watford 3-0 Colchester
By Kevin Affleck
Hayden Mullins was one very satisfied coach after watching the club's Under-23 side back up the eye-catching win over Queens Park Rangers by beating Colchester United with plenty to spare at Wingate & Finchley FC.
The teenage Hornets produced the result of their season to beat a high-riding and highly-experienced QPR side in their own backyard on Monday afternoon and it was always going to be interesting to see if they could show it was no flash in the pan or if it was going to be a case of after the Lord Mayor's Show.
In front of Sporting Director Andy Scott, the Under-23 side showed they are starting to add a bit of consistency to their youthful promise by recording back-to-back Professional Development League wins for the first time this season. In fact, goals from Michael Folivi, Harry Forster and Dan Phillips secured their fourth win in their last eight matches.
"It caps off a very good week after the QPR result," said Mullins, the club's Lead Under-23 Professional Development Coach. "That was a good result and we performed well against a very experienced QPR side. The lads backed it up today with three goals and a clean sheet. It was very pleasing."
The Hornets dominated from start to finish and it was hard to recall first-year scholar 'keeper Dante Baptiste making a save. Forster created the first for Folivi, scored the second himself and then teed up Phillips for the third in the second half. It would have been four had Folivi not missed a second-half penalty.
Just as pleasing would have been the third clean sheet of the season, achieved despite Lewis Gordon coming off just after half-time and Harry Hudson, the centre-half already playing out of position at right-back, moving to the unfamiliar position of left-back.
"The challenge is to always play the way you want and I think we know that if we approach games in the right way and we get the kind of performance and focus from the boys, we are happy regardless of the result," said Mullins.
"I didn't think we started the game too well. Even though we went 1-0 up, we looked sloppy and we had a chat at half-time. We said we needed to raise it and we looked a lot better in the second half. The tempo went up, the way we passed was better, we got down the sides well and we could have got a few more goals."
The lively Forster had one first-half effort saved by the 'keeper's legs, smashed the left-hand post with another, had one cleared off the line, saw a close-range header from Ryan Cassidy saved and watched Folivi miss a one-v-one the striker would normally convert.
"Harry is very bright and lively," said Mullins about the forward who signed a professional deal in June. "He's a good player who likes to be on the ball and affect the opposition. He has done brilliantly. We speak about getting his end product up as if he is going to be the player he wants to be, he's going to be judged on goals and assists. He needs to continue to work on his game, but he has been fantastic today."
Forster, 18, has this season played wide on the right, wide on the left and in the hole behind Folivi and Cassidy like he did today against the U's. He seems comfortable on either foot, has a good turn of pace and is not afraid to have a crack at goal.
"He can play any role across the midfield areas and in the wide areas, too," said Mullins. "He just needs to keep developing his game and try to be a threat. If he does that, and keeps working on his end product, then someone is always going to have a keen eye on him."
HORNETS: Baptiste; Hudson, Mukena, Leighton, Gordon (Tricker 54); Sankoh (Adebiyi 72), Charles (C), Phillips (Holsgrove 82); Forster, Cassidy, Folivi.
Subs not used: Hoskins (GK), Suckling.