Under-23 Report | Barnsley 2-1 Watford
Watford Under-23s were left to rue missed first-half chances as they went down to Barnsley by the odd goal in three this afternoon.
In unseasonally sunny weather in Yorkshire, the Hornets fashioned enough opportunities in a 20-minute spell, their best of the game, before half-time but only had Dion Pereira’s 42nd-minute equaliser to show for it.
The visitors paid a high price for their wastefulness as they were sunk by a goal on 49 minutes and never looked likely to get back in it after that.
Watford took a while to get going – about 20 minutes to be precise – and were grateful to Nathan Gartside for a save he pulled off when faced one-v-one with Lloyd Isgrove.
That served as a wake-up call to the visitors and they created four presentable chances in a bright and inventive 10-minute passage of play.
Randell Williams, who was Watford’s best player in the first-half, thought he had laid the opening goal on a plate for Michael Folivi but the striker missed under pressure from the goalkeeper and covering defender.
Pereira then hit the post with his supposed weaker right foot after he out-sprinted his marker to latch onto a ball over the top from Folivi.
Williams was proving a real menace down the Watford left and he saw an effort saved by the legs of the keeper after a pass from Brandon Mason set him darting in from the flank.
And the lively former Crystal Palace forward was at the end of another move just minutes later, bending a first-time effort from a David Sesay cross just past the far post. It was all Watford at this stage.
But, as always seems the way when you don’t take the chances, the opposition showed how it’s done by scoring against the run of play on 39 minutes, Stephen Mallan finding space in the box to beat Gartside.
Down but not out, Watford encouragingly responded almost immediately. Sesay picked out Folivi with a lovely right-to-left cross-field pass, which allowed the forward to take the ball in his stride to the byline. Once there, he cut it back for Pereira to ram home with his sweet left foot.
That, however, was as good as it got for the young Golden Boys.
Barnsley got their noses back in front four minutes after half-time through Matthew Wolfe and really should have put the game to bed once they did, with Gartside making at least three saves and Victor Adeboyejo, who was a handful throughout, missing a golden chance when it seemed easier to score.
HORNETS | Gartside (GK); Eleftheriou (C), Rowan, Mukena; Sesay (Rogers, 51), Stewart, Charles, Mason; Pereira, Folivi, Williams (Bradbury, 65).
Subs not used | Lacy (GK), Huja, Stray.