Under-18's 01/10/2019

Under-18: “Our Discipline Was Really Good”

The Under-18s remain top of the table with six wins from seven this season, after a hard-earned 1-0 away victory at QPR on Saturday (September 28) thanks to a second-half Dom Hutchinson penalty.

The young Hornets sat deep and were happy for the home side to have possession for much of the game, but were dangerous on the counter-attack with forward Hutchinson hitting the post and his strike partner Damani Hunter coming close twice in the first 20 minutes.

The breakthrough eventually came in the second half, with a diagonal ball from Imaad Sankoh finding Shaq Forde, who made a good run before shaping to shoot and performing a Cruyff turn to win a penalty.

Captain Hutchinson confidently put the ball to the goalkeeper’s right to score his sixth goal of the season in six appearances.

“It’s really positive how the lads have taken on the counter-attacking, so we’re not pressing high and aggressive but we’re allowing teams to have a certain amount of build-up and then we’re pressing on that, trying to win it and playing on the counter,” said Lead Coach Simon Clark.

“It’s really good in terms of their development and a different way of playing, but we were very much in control of the game. Our defensive discipline without the ball and our structure against a team that has a lot of individuals in it was really good.

“There are loads of ways to win football matches, it’s part of my job to give them that kind of ammunition and we did it really well.”

Injuries to regular starters meant two Under-16s were named in the starting XI for the young Hornets – forward Hunter and left-midfielder Aidan Manning – and two more came off the bench in Forde and Ben Smith in the second half.

“It’s great for the Under-16s to see this level,” said Clark. “It’s tough for them, we haven’t worked with them before, we got some information to them before the game and said we want to do this, and this is why.

“Hunter pressed really well without the ball and pressed in a different way, and his structure without the ball was really good for a young man.”

The Under-18s sit top of the U18 Professional Development League with six wins and one loss from seven games, and boast the best goal difference in the league too, having scored an impressive 17 goals and conceded just six.

“It’s a confidence tool, it’s something you can talk about,” said Clark. “You’re up there, you want to stay up there but what does it take to stay up there? It’s lovely to look at the table but it’s early days and it’s all about performances really. But good performances generally get you positive results.”

First Team 01/10/2019

News: Deulofeu & Cleverley Reach Appearance Milestones

Gerard Deulofeu and Tom Cleverley were both recently presented with awards by the Premier League for reaching appearance milestones.

Deulofeu made his 100th Premier League appearance on the opening day of the season, while Cleverley made his 200th top-flight outing when he scored for the Hornets against Arsenal in a 2-2 draw earlier this month.

Cleverley also reached another milestone recently, coming off the bench in Watford's 2-1 Carabao Cup victory against Swansea City to play his 100th game for the Hornets.

In an in-depth interview with matchday programme THE HORNET, which can be read in full in Saturday's Sheffield United edition, Cleverley spoke about reaching his milestones.

“I don’t keep track of milestones like that myself but my Dad tells me about that sort of thing all the time,” said Cleverley. “I think he must keep a spreadsheet or something! They’re obviously things I can be proud about but I’ll look back at them more when I retire.

“It’s more important to live in the present now. As soon as I hit 200, the first thing I thought about was getting to 300. If I can play most of the games over the next three years then I can get another 100.”

Cleverley has now played more matches for Watford than any other club, including Everton and Manchester United, and was delighted to have reached 100 appearances for the Hornets.

“It’s a great thing for me and I’ve seen the club go through a 10-year transition,” said the midfielder. “I think the ambition that exists here is the main reason why we’re all really disappointed to be where we are at the moment. It’s not where we should be and not where we strive to be. We do enough hard work to make me confident that we can get out of this small little bump in the road.

“My favourite memories from the first time around are QPR at home when me and Lloyd scored. Sheffield Wednesday away as well, that was a big game and I scored a free-kick. I scored on my debut against Forest and with my Dad being a Forest fan that made that one very nice.

“Since coming back it’s the two goals really – and by that I mean Arsenal at home in 2017 and the goal at Palace away that won the game for us after my injury. I’ve had lots of good memories and there are still plenty more to make.”