Under-18's 07/10/2019

Under-18: Watford 3-3 Colchester United

By Hamish Rogers

Watford’s Under-18s came from behind three times as Colchester proved a stern test for Simon Clark’s men on Saturday (October 5) – the youngsters leaving it late to grab an equaliser in what became their first draw of the campaign.

Dom Hutchinson added to his personal tally, making it seven goals in his seven appearances so far this season, grabbing a late leveller in the 89th minute of the game.

JJ McKiernan and Max Thompson scored the other two earlier in the game, and Clark’s side now lead the U18 Professional Development League South by one point. 

JJ McKiernan scores Watford's first of the game

“Our individual actions were, with and without the ball, off our level. Then we became a little bit desperate, but again we’ve created multiple chances to win the football match, so that’s a positive,” said Clark.

Despite enjoying the first few chances on goal in the early stages of the game, Watford’s lethargic play on the ball in their own half, as well as an individual error, gifted Colchester the lead inside the first 10 minutes through Jake Hutchinson.

Watford reacted well, and thanks to McKiernan’s piece of individual skill on the left wing, grabbed an equaliser in the 22nd minute. The youngster took a lovely touch to release the ball from under his feel, and coolly curled it inside the far post.

McKiernan wheels off the celebrate levelling the scores

It took fewer than 10 minutes for the away side to regain the lead. Colchester's Hutchinson was given far too much time in the box to turn and slot home with ease, ending the half 2-1 to the visitors.

“The lads got equal and then we just conceded again, which is really poor and not like us”, said Clark.

Watford started the second 45 with a much greater intensity and after some sublime overlapping play down the right-hand side, brought the score level again, with Thompson nodding home from a cross just shy of the hour-mark.

Max Thompson nods the Hornets level

Just seconds later, goalkeeper Harvey White was picking the ball out of the Watford net once again as the Hornets fell asleep immediately after scoring and found themselves trailing to a Harvey Sayers strike.

From then on there was some relentless attacking play from the Hornets, who had multiple chances to equalise. But it took until the final moments of the game for skipper Hutchinson to come to the home side’s rescue once again, scoring with one of the last kicks of the game to secure a draw.

Dom Hutchinson's late strike earned a 3-3 draw

“It’s tough, because when you’re top of any league, teams come and they change shape and they try to get a way to play” said Clark.

“They negate what you do and we just came off certain highs, both with and without the ball, so it’s really disappointing in that effect. It’s great that they kept working hard, but they’ve missed an opportunity today.”

HORNETS: White (GK), Conteh, Maclean, Lawal, Matthews, Burchell, Harrison (Forde, 88), Thompson (Hunter, 77), Hutchinson (C), Lo-Everton (Sankoh, 58), McKiernan.

Subs not used: Evans, Marriott.

Photos by Franziska Dodl

First Team 07/10/2019

Prödl: “I’ve Experienced A Lot In Football”

Sebastian Prödl has been through difficult situations in football before, both personally in terms of injuries and finding himself out of favour but also facing battles at the wrong end of the table with his team.

During the 2014/15 season his Werder Bremen side did not win a Bundesliga game until November 1 but finished the season comfortably in 10th place, and Prödl wants to use this kind of experience to help the Hornets get out of a similar sticky patch.

“I’ve experienced a lot in football, I’ve seen many managers, a lot of clubs and a lot of situations,” said the centre-half. “Especially situations like we are in now, at the bottom of the table, and I have experienced as well how to get out.”

Prödl made his first league start since April 2018 against Sheffield United and knows more work is needed to turn results around for the Hornets, but was pleased to mark his return by helping the team to a first clean sheet since February.

“I’m glad to be back in competition at Watford,” he said. “I’ve suffered a bad couple of months with injury comebacks and being out of favour but I was focused on my goal, that I want to be back for Watford in the Premier League to help the team, especially this very weird and difficult situation, to be back with my experience to help the team out. I am working hard.”

The 32-year-old knows everyone was hoping to take all three points against Sheffield United, and doesn’t shy away from the fact that wins are needed soon. But the defender was impressed with the defensive structure from the Hornets, who restricted the away side to minimal chances.

“I think in terms of defending we did well today,” said Prödl. “In terms of scoring we can improve, but I think we knew this was going to be a difficult game. We have to admit that it’s a disappointing result but on the other hand I think we showed some improvements as well.

“As a group to defend I think we always had six, seven, eight players defending. We had to take a lot of crosses from Sheffield United. I think the commitment and defensive work was key today to get the clean sheet.”

Prödl had to leave the pitch with half an hour to play after feeling a slight injury, but Craig Dawson was able to come on and continue the defender's work for the remainder of the match. Keeping the clean sheet meant a small step forward for Watford, and another point on the board, but Prödl wants to start making bigger strides in the league soon.

“We started today with a little step, it’s not good that we’re starting with little steps but at least we’re starting. It’s not the result we wished before, but it’s a little step forward,” he said.

“We need to look forward, push forward towards getting better results, we need to push for some points. We want to maintain our status as a Premier League club and the sooner we face reality, the better it is to get out and the easier it will become to get out.”