Under-23: “The Determination They Showed Was Brilliant”
By Kevin Affleck
“That felt better than beating Hull 5-0,” said one of the players as the Under-23 side bounded jubilantly down the tunnel after leaving it real late to beat Sheffield United 2-1 on Monday night (August 19) in the Professional Development League.
The newly-configured side showed they could get their noses in front and stay there in the comfort of the surroundings at Vicarage Road last week, but at Chesterfield's Proact Stadium they demonstrated they could roll their sleeves up and churn out a result when not at their best. The winner came deep into added time.
“It was a good result,” said Hayden Mullins, the Lead Under-23 Coach after goals from Joseph Hungbo and then a late winner from a trialist sink the Blades. “The character they showed, the way they played and determination they showed was brilliant, absolutely excellent. There are loads of bits we can get better at and improve but the result was very good.”
It took this age group six games to get their first win last time out, but this exciting group of players, featuring players brought in from Manchester United, Leeds, West Ham, Crystal Palace, Reading and Derby, now has two from two. The fact they are playing with such cohesion so early on is testament to the coaching and the DNA of the players.
“The boys are quite close and a very good group,” said Mullins. “I read some good comments the other day from [Academy Manager] Richard Thomas about singing the right type of player and he's right. We've recruited the right characters and they are also good players. We've brought together a really good group and they've knitted together early on. The results reflect that as we've had two different wins.
“Every game is going to be different. You are not going to control a game and have 80 per cent of possession. Sheffield United are a very good side with some good players and they played a high press game and tried to get after us. We weren't at it at the start if I'm honest, but we tidied things up and believed in ourselves a bit more.”
It also helped that Adam Parkes made three smarts saves, including one effort he clawed out just before the Hornets grabbed the winner and that Lewis Gordon looked so sharp at left-back in what was his first competitive game at this level since January because of injury.
“I'm pleased for Lew,” said Mullins. “He's worked really hard to get back and he's a good player. He'll now be keen to have a run and back this performance up.”
The Under-23s are next in action on Friday when they host Sheffield Wednesday at Clarence Park, 1pm KO.
HORNETS: Parkes (GK); Balogun (C), Barrett, Hudson, Gordon; Hungbo, Whelan, Phillips, Bennetts (Wise 79); Trialist, Dalby. Subs not used: Adebiyi, Hoskins, Green, Crichlow