Under-23: Crystal Palace 0-2 Watford
The Under-23s returned to the top of the Southern Professional Development League on Monday (October 14) with a 2-0 away win at Crystal Palace.
A first-half strike from midfielder Henry Wise and a second-half Sam Dalby penalty earned three points for the Young Hornets in a cagey game at the South London training ground.
Hayden Mullins said he was impressed with his team’s concentration and hard work in a game he described as being very different to recent matches at Crewe and Plymouth Argyle, where the Hornets dominated possession.
“There was a lot of possession for them and it was a different game for us,” said the Under-23s Coach. “We spoke about trying to be a lot more solid in our shape, trying to keep our shape and keep them in front of us and press in the right areas. I think they did that today and I think we were unlucky not to win by a bigger margin if I’m honest.”
The first chance of the match came about when Dalby played in Joseph Hungbo, but a good save denied the winger a goal on his first return to Palace since departing the team’s Academy in the summer.
Moments later Kaylen Hinds was denied a penalty, despite appearing to reach the ball first in the box, but the breakthrough eventually came after 30 minutes.
Hungbo got on the end of a deep cross and played the ball into Hinds, who controlled well and teed up Wise, arriving late and drilling a fierce shot through a crowded box and past the goalkeeper.
“He hit it really well, he’s been assisting quite a few people in recent weeks so I’m sure he’s glad he’s popped up with one,” said Mullins. “I’m sure if you ask any of the midfielders, the one thing they would love to add to their game is goals.”
The Golden Boys doubled their lead shortly after the break. Hungbo linked up well with left-back Harry Hudson, returning from a loan spell at Cray Wanderers, and the latter was brought down in the box for a penalty.
Dalby calmly converted low to the goalkeeper’s left in the 49th minute, earning his fifth goal of the season.
The visitors controlled the remainder of the match well, and Mullins said he was happy with how his team coped with the different challenge.
“We had to play differently, and it was a different kind of target for the boys to sit in, be solid and play on the counter-attack,” he said. “At times you can’t always come and dominate games, there are going to be times when you have to sit in and soak up pressure, and I think they did that well today.”
HORNETS: Parkes (GK); Balogun, Spencer-Adams, Barrett, Hudson; Wise (Green 87), Whelan, Hinds (Adebiyi 71); Bennetts (Maclean 82), Dalby, Hungbo.
Subs not used: Hoskins (GK), Conteh, McKiernan.