Thomas On U23s: “We’re In A Good Position”
By Kevin Affleck
Academy Manager Richard Thomas believes the club's Under-23 team are in a strong position to still qualify from their Premier League Cup group.
The Hornets went down to a harsh 3-0 defeat to Everton at Southport FC last night and dropped down to third in the group behind leaders Fulham and the Toffees. However, they have home games to come across those two Cat 1 sides and Plymouth in the New Year, leaving everything very much all to play for.
“We are in a good position and have all home games to come,” said Thomas, who took the team along with Head of Academy Barry Quin. “Having felt out Everton and seen what they've got, it will be interesting to get them back at our place and see what we can do in that fixture when we have everyone available. They had a lot of players who won the league and the cup last year so it was good for our players to have that experience and feel the pace of it. They gave a really good account of themselves. I'm pleased.”
The performance was remarkable considering top-scorer Joseph Hungbo, Bayli Spencer-Adams, Cameron Green, Mason Barrett, Callum Whelan and Adam Parkes were unavailable because they trained with the first team while Sam Dalby was injured.
“There has been lots going on but we've worked in football long enough to cope,” said Thomas. “You've just got to roll with it and not panic. We could have obliterated the Under-18s team [ahead of their FA Youth Cup tie tomorrow] and taken a few of those lads to get a bit closer tonight. But we decided to go with one fit player on the bench and involve two players (Thomas Horsewood and Imaad Sanko) who are going to play in the FA Youth Cup tie against Fleetwood, which us not the ideal way to prepare for an Under-23s game, but it's something you have to deal with.”
Still, the Hornets had a right good go against David Unsworth's side and made most of the running, creating the better of the chances but were sunk by three goals in the second half, including a cracking free-kick from Antony Evans.
“No, it wasn't a fair reflection,” said Thomas. “I know only one stat counts, and that's the score, but we dominated for long periods. We had most of the play and had a lot of possession in their half, but we got hurt by some mistakes. I'm disappointed for the lads as they didn't deserve to come away with a 3-0 defeat.
“A number of them did really well. We executed some nice link-up play around the box and I thought the ‘keeper made some very good saves. We retained possession well and recycled it. There weren't many who didn't contribute to a very strong performance.”
HORNETS: White; Balogun (C), Trialist, Hudson, Gordon; Wise, Sankoh (Horsewood 62); Adebiyi, Bennetts, Hines; Cassidy.
Sub not used: Hoskins (GK).