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.”