U23 Report: Watford 1-1 Sheffield United
Watford Under 23s started life at their new home ground with a 1-1 draw against Sheffield United at Wingate & Finchley FC in a game that should really have been out of sight at half-time.
Michael Folivi’s second goal in as many games and a Stephen Mallon strike either side of half-time were the only ones to find the back of the net as the Golden Boys claimed their first point of the season.
Watford started the brighter of the two sides, with Michael Mullings delivering a lovely cross only for Ryan Cassidy’s effort to be turned behind for a corner by keeper Marcus Dewhurst.
The Golden Boys continued to pile on the early pressure but found Dewhurst in impressive form, denying both Dion Pereira and Folivi with some smart stops after a mix-up in the Sheffield United defence.
Dewhurst continued to keep his side in the game as they hung on in the early stages. Cassidy robbed the Sheffield United defender and played through Folivi, only for his effort to be denied by the face of the onrushing goalkeeper.
The Golden Boys made their advantage pay soon after. Following some lovely link-up play between Pereira and Ashley Charles, the former set through Folivi who smartly slotted home.
Cassidy had a fantastic chance to double Watford’s lead just before half-time. Dewhurst was caught out of his goal but made a miraculous recovery to fling himself towards his net and deny what would surely have been the second goal of the afternoon.
At times in the first period it seemed the ball would just not go in for Darren Sarll and Hayden Mullins’ players. This time a goalmouth scramble from a corner resulted in three blocked efforts, with Cassidy going agonisingly close again after some last-ditch defending from the young Yorkshire side.
Watford were made to pay early in the second-half and whatever Blades coach John Dungworth had said at the break certainly seemed to have an effect. Half-time substitute Mallon was put through one-on-one and coolly slipped it under Sam Howes to equalise for the visitors.
Soon after there was a huge chance for the young Golden Boys to regain their lead. A delightful Pereira free-kick was met by the head of Harry Hudson, but his powerful effort smashed against the cross-bar, only for Harry Forster to put the rebound wide with the goal gaping.
Watford began to dominate proceedings again but yet another chance went begging when Cassidy’s close-range effort dragged agonisingly wide of Dewhurst’s goal.
The visitors almost stole the three points in the dying minutes but for an acrobatic flying Howes save which kept out Jordan Hallam’s long-range drive.
And the action didn’t finish there. Folivi raced through in stoppage time with only Dewhurst to beat but the Sheffield United keeper continued to be a thorn in Watford’s side and made sure his side headed back to South Yorkshire with a point.
HORNETS XI | Howes (GK); Mullings, Mukena, Hudson, Suckling; Maclean (Holsgrove 66), Charles, Pereira; Forster (Beckford 78), Folivi, Cassidy (Sesay 84).
Subs not used | Hoskins (GK).