Under-23's 26/10/2019

Under-23: Watford 3-1 Colchester United

Troy Deeney was in the stands to watch the club's Under-23 side come from one down to beat Colchester United at Clarence Park and cement their position at the top of the Professional Development League South Division.

The club captain arrived just after half-time after continuing his rehabilitation from injury at the club's training base in London Colney and proved a lucky omen as Hayden Mullins' team scored twice in the second half in the space of 13 minutes to bag their seventh win in 10 league matches.

"It's brilliant for the lads to see the club captain here," said Mullins. "A lot of the the lads in the first team comment on how the lads are doing when they train with them; Prodl, Capoue and Troy. It's great to see Troy come and watch as he's an inspiration for a lot of them."

Sam Dalby has said how he comes to first-team matches specifically to pick up some tips of the trade from Deeney, so he will have been delighted to score his seventh league goal of the season in front of the watching club skipper. 

"Sam has been doing really well and works hard for the team in and out of possession," said Mullins. "He's getting his rewards at the moment and I'm sure he is very happy with that. His recent goals come from working hard, both individually and as a team."

Joseph Hungbo also has seven for the season, but he showed the other side of his game by creating the first (an own goal) and supplying the pass for a trialist to ram in the third four minutes from time. 

"We didn't start too well today," said Mullins. "It took a goal from them to spur us into life and I was really happy with the way we reacted. We kept the ball really well in a period of play in the first half and played some good football. We got back in it by being patient, which was good as at times in the first half it looked like we were trying too hard. We lost our shape a bit so we spoke at half-time about being patient and waiting for our opportunities."

The win was a notable one as although Colchester are bottom of the table, they fielded 36-year-old Jamal Campbell-Ryce, Freddie Hinds, whose goal knocked the Hornets out of the League Cup a couple of seasons back, and Harry Pell, who has made 32 starts for the first team.

"It's good as it was similar to the test the boys might get in a league game," said Mullins. "Colchester had some experienced players with good league experience and it was really good for our boys. They showed good character to get back in it and they are really taking the information we are giving them on board."

HORNETS: Parkes; Balogun (C), Spencer-Adams, Barrett, Hudson; Hungbo, Whelan, Adebiyi, Bennetts (Cassidy, 75); Hinds (Trialist, 79), Dalby.

Subs not used: White, Lo-Everton, McKiernan.

First Team 25/10/2019

Gray: “The Belief Is Growing Every Day”

Andre Gray believes the Hornets are more organised and well-drilled thanks to Quique Sánchez Flores, and that this approach is the reason for an upturn in confidence and performances in recent weeks.

Against Sheffield United the Hornets picked up a first league clean sheet since February and this was followed up with an away point at Tottenham Hotspur which should have been three.

“The belief is growing every day in training, when you go out there and have an understanding in your job and your job as a team it makes things a lot easier and clearer. Obviously time will tell, but there’s a lot of belief in the team to kick on and get ourselves back up the table,” said Gray.

“He [Sánchez Flores] is getting us back to basics really. I’m not saying it wasn’t like that with the other manager, but he just came with fresh ideas, formation and a different style.”

One key aspect of the Sánchez Flores style is becoming a tight unit which is hard to break down. After conceding too many goals in the opening matches, Gray believes the hard work on the training pitch is beginning to pay off.

“Defensively as a team we’ve conceded a lot of goals, but that’s not down to individuals, it’s the whole team from front to back,” he said. “We’ve worked a lot on the defence since the new manager's come in and in the last few games, barring the little hiccup last week, we're looking a lot stronger as a team.”

At the other end of the pitch the Hornets are looking to score more goals, and Gray wants to start adding to his Hornets’ tally. The striker is never one to hide away from mistakes and admits he should have finished his chance against Sheffield United. But, despite not taking the opportunity, Gray wants to get back on the pitch to make amends.

“I had a big chance against Sheffield United and fluffed my lines. It’s part and parcel of the game and that’s what happens when you are a striker, you do miss chances. It’s just about getting that run in the team and a few games on the bounce and I know then I will score goals,” he said.

“I don’t think my ratio has been that bad in terms of starts to goals, I feel like if I get a run of games I will score.”

Going into the match against Bournemouth, the Hornets are hoping for a first Premier League win of the season.

“Every game is important and it’s not just about Bournemouth,” said Gray. “If we go and win that game and then lose the next six or seven games, it makes no difference. We look at every game as important now with the situation we're in, but it does start on Saturday against Bournemouth.”