Under-23: Crewe Alexandra 1-4 Watford
By Kevin Affleck
Hayden Mullins knows a thing or two about the art of midfield play so it's worth listening to him when he talks about the role Henry Wise played in the 4-1 Professional Development League win over Crewe Alexandra at Gresty Road.
The midfielder played a lovely side-rule pass for the first goal, produced a deft touch for the second and then swung over an in-swinging corner for the fourth. Less eye-catching but equally as important was the goal-line clearance he made one minute before joining the counter-attack the next, and then the recovery tackle he made on the Crewe left-back deep in his own half near the end.
"There were some very, very good performances out there today and Henry was one of them," said Mullins of the former Derby midfielder. "He has shown a lot of improvement, he sees a lot of the ball and he likes to pass forward, which is a good attribute. He can play in a pair with him and Callum [Whelan] and then Kaylen [Hinds] as the 10 and then in a three like he did today where he has a bit more license. He can do both and is a good all-round midfielder."
Joseph Hungbo added the garnish at the other end with a crisp finish for the first and then a howitzer for the third. He now has seven for the season ahead of a return to Crystal Palace on Monday.
"He's doing really well and I'm pleased for him as he works really hard," said Mullins of the explosive winger. "His goals and his performances have come through his hard work and it's a good sign for the rest of the team that hard work pays off. We are getting into their head about working hard for the team and that's where a lot of his goals have come from."
Sam Dalby got the second and fourth goals, the first a well-hit one with his left foot that went through the 'keeper's legs and the second a header from a corner. They were the former Leeds man's first goals in a month.
"I'm very pleased for Sam," said Mullins. "He gives us a real different option up there. We can go into him and he is a good team player. I'm glad the big lad is now chipping in with goals as all No. 9s want to score goals. He got two goals but, more importantly, he worked really well for the side."
The goals were just what Mullins was after following the hatful of missed chances at Plymouth in the Premier League Cup last week.
"We were clinical today," said the former Crystal Palace, West Ham and Portsmouth midfielder. "After Plymouth we spoke about being confident and expressing ourselves in the final third and we did that well today. It was a very good, mature performance. To score four goals is good for us. It keeps our run going this year. I've been quite pleased with the boys as they are developing a willingness to learn from what we do in training. We are really trying to push them. The goal we conceded was a negative for us. It was a slip from one of the players, which was a shame, as we would love to have got the clean sheet."
HORNETS: Parkes; Maclean (Spencer-Adams 71), Barrett, Balogun, Zeegelaar; Wise, Whelan (Forster 63), Adebiyi; Bennetts (Hinds 63), Hungbo, Dalby.
Subs not used: White, Conteh.