Under-23's 17/08/2018

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).

First Team 17/08/2018

Team News: Burnley

Watch Javi Gracia's pre-Burnley press conference above.

Javi Gracia looks set to have an unchanged squad to choose from as he prepares to take his side to Burnley this Sunday.

While there are no new injury concerns to report following last weekend’s opening day win over Brighton, the match at Turf Moor has come too soon for those Watford players who were already on the sidelines.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference this afternoon, Gracia said: “We have no news about injuries this week. The players who were injured last week still are so we haven’t recovered any players for this game.

“Deulofeu, Chalobah and Cleverley are injured and we are waiting for them in the next weeks. Maybe next week Okaka will start [training] with the team, but he needs time to recover his best condition.”

Nathaniel Chalobah continues to step up his recovery from a serious knee injury last September

Watford added seven permanent signings to the squad over the summer – eight if you include Pontus Dahlberg, who initially joined in January but was loaned straight back to IFK Göteborg – and the Hornets’ Head Coach believes supporters can expect to see more of the new recruits integrated into his side over the coming weeks.

“From the first day they’ve felt really well. Now we are stronger with the new players; we have more options in different positions,” he said.

“Okay, in the first XI only Ben Foster started last week, but I’m sure in the next weeks we can see the rest of the new players playing with the team.”

This Sunday’s game will be Burnley’s sixth competitive fixture in 25 days, thanks to their involvement in the Europa League qualifying rounds. Istanbul Basaksehir took the Clarets to extra-time just last night (Thursday), but Gracia doesn’t believe that will hand the Hornets any kind of advantage.

“They have a very good squad and I’m sure they won’t have any problem playing three games this week. Yesterday I think they changed the team so I’m sure they will play at the same level as in other games.

“If you ask me whether I prefer to play three games or two in this period, I’d prefer to play two. But I’m sure they will keep this level and it’ll be a very tough game for us.”

Click HERE to download the 'Welcome to Turf Moor Visiting Supporters Guide', which includes information on travel, parking, stadium facilities and more.

Please be advised that sniffer dogs may be in operation at Turf Moor this Sunday.