Under-23's 25/08/2018

U23 Report: Nottingham Forest 2-1 Watford

By Kevin Affleck

Michael Folivi continues to rattle along at a goal a game after he extended his scoring streak against Nottingham Forest, but that first win of the season continues to elude the club's Under-23 side.

Folivi drew the Hornets level on 22 minutes at Alfreton FC to add to the goals he got in the defeat against Birmingham and draw against Sheffield United, but Virgil Gomis and Yassine En-Neyah scored either side of that to ensure the Professional Development League points went the way of the home side. 

Forest are managed by ex-Hornet Jimmy Gilligan and they would have fancied helping themselves to a few more goals having scored seven in their first two games, but Watford had a good shape about them all night and did not let Forest have things all their own way. Indeed they might have snatched a late equaliser had Joy Mukena's header not drifted just wide. But a disappointing night was capped off when Tom Leighton was shown a straight red card for a late challenge on En-Neyah, the Forest match-winner, in injury time.

The early signs had been so promising for Watford when Harry Forster had an effort cleared off the line by Jordan Lawrence-Gabriel. But that proved to be a rare moment of goalmouth action for the Hornets as Forest dictated proceedings thereafter. 

Gomis scored against the Hornets here in April and he was a menace yet again. The left-footed Frenchman was popping up in the space between the Hornets' midfield and defence and also playing on the shoulder of the last man. It was no surprise that he was the man to open the scoring after 15 minutes, the forward slotting low past Sam Howes. It was probably what Forest deserved for their bright opening.

It looked like the Hornets might get overwhelmed at that point as Forest pushed for a second. Brennan Johnson flashed a free-kick across the goal that somehow someone failed to get a touch on and then Gomis twice fired into the side-netting.

Now with the bit between their teeth, Watford stepped up their pressing game and were really at it. Indeed the manner in which Folivi closed down the centre-half to win possession was straight out of the playbook being deployed by the first team. The Hornets were also showing a fair bit of quality when on the ball and it look a flying one-handed save from Henderson to prevent Kieran Holsgrove from finding the top corner with a fine effort from distance. The Hornets ended the half with the momentum.

They quickly lost it ten minutes into the second half when En-Neyah bundled the ball over the line following a corner. It was a soft goal to concede and not the ideal start to the second 45.

But back Watford came and they certainly had a good go without ever getting in behind or forcing Henderson to make a save of note. They went for broke with ten minutes remaining by throwing on Sam Sesay for holding midfielder Ryan Maclean and playing three up top, but that equaliser never came. 

In the end, though, the result did not matter and everyone's thoughts were with En-Neyah, who left the field on a stretcher and was taken to hospital by ambulance.

HORNETS | Howes (GK); Baxter (Leighton 66), Hudson, Mukena, Eleftheriou (c); Forster, Maclean (Sesay 80), Pereira; Holsgrove (Everton 72); Cassidy, Folivi. 

Subs not used: Hoskins.

First Team 25/08/2018

Kabasele: “Everyone Wants To Improve A Lot”

Watch the full interview with Christian Kabasele above, or read on below.


Hornets defender Christian Kabasele has enjoyed playing two consecutive games, as Watford got maximum points in their opening two Premier League matches for the first time in the club’s history.

There seems to be a real buzz around the club at the moment, and a lot of that is down to the work done in pre-season, according to the Belgian centre-half.

“I think we had a great summer,” said Kabasele. “We had a great pre-season. 

“Last year we had a lot of small injuries, so we didn’t have a full squad for five or six weeks, but this year we did that, and we see that we had a very good pre-season.”

Crystal Palace are up next, as Javi Gracia’s Watford side look to make it three from three against the Eagles, and Kabasele has been doing his homework on the opposition.

“I watched their game against Liverpool on Monday and they did very well,” said the defender. “Liverpool didn’t have it easy and they’ve improved a lot as well compared to last season. 

“It will be a very, very tough game as usual against Palace, so we need to be well prepared and we know what we have to do to take care of this game.”

Watford and Crystal Palace were both tipped by those outside the club to struggle, but even though the Hornets have six points from six, the Belgian expects a tricky test against the South London side.

“We are amongst the teams not expected to stay in the Premier League [by the pundits],” he said. “So when we play each other, both teams want the three points and I think they will come on Sunday to get the points.”

The centre-half thinks Watford can aim much higher than that if they continue in the same vein over the course of the season. 

“We have quality,” said the 27-year-old. “And, if we are lucky with injuries and have all the players available during the long period, maybe we can make the step into the top-ten. 

“But first of all we need to focus on the top target and that is the 40 points.

“We know with Watford, every season we start well and after we don’t win several games in a row. Compared to last season, I think it’s a question of being lucky with injuries, because the quality is in the team, for sure.”

A lot of that comes down to a fresh mentality instilled in the side over the summer.

“When we look at the game against Brighton and Burnley we showed that when we lost the ball, everyone wants to win it back very fast,” he said. “It shows that everyone wants to improve a lot.

“There are a lot of players who are waiting for their chance on the bench and there’s [a few] injured players and maybe that’s the difference from last season when there’s only 15 or 16 players fit, maybe you don’t put in the same effort because you know that the next game you’re going to play, and this season is totally different with almost the full squad.”

And Kabasele has the unenviable task of trying to stop Palace’s most potent threat: Wilfired Zaha. Just how do you stop the elusive winger?

“It’s always a tough game against Zaha,” said the defender. “He’s one of the best players in the league and you need to be focused for 95 minutes.

“When he loses one challenge maybe he will find another way so its very, very difficult. He’s quick, he’s skilful and you need to be more focused against this type of player because with one movement, he can pass you and run with the ball and the statistics show that when he’s playing, Palace rarely lose.

“Its happened on Monday [against Liverpool], but he’s their best player and we need to be really focused to avoid him having a good game.”