Under-23's 12/08/2019

Under-23: Watford 5-0 Hull City

By Kevin Affleck

Academy Manager Richard Thomas was thrilled with how cohesive the new-look Under-23 side appeared in their opening Professional Development League game against Hull City this afternoon (Monday August 12), putting five unanswered goals past the visitors at Vicarage Road.

A trialist put them on their way with a cracker, Kane Crichlow scored twice, Marvin Zeegelaar scored one and grabbed an assist and Joseph Hungbo got the other in what was a very fluid and dynamic performance from a side that featured six debutants in the starting XI and another two off the bench.

“It was a good solid start for a new group put together over the last six to eight weeks,” said Thomas, new to the club himself having joined from Notts County in May. 

“I was pleased for the boys and today was a good reflection of the time spent in pre-season. You've got to have an element of ruthlessness whatever level you play at and we had that today. They look like they've got a real understanding of the stuff Hayden [Mullins] and [Assistant Coach] Omer [Riza] have been trying to instil in pre-season and the attitude and character is the biggest positive to take.”

The club have recruited smartly to strengthen their Under-23 team with a raft of summer signings. Sam Dalby has come in from Leeds; nimble midfielder Callum Whelan was at Manchester United; Hungbo, the lively winger, has come in after nearly a decade at Crystal Palace; Jamal Balogun has made such an impression since joining from Reading that he captained the side from right-back; Crichlow trained so well in pre-season after signing from AFC Wimbledon that Javi Gracia took him to Austria while new signings Mason Barrett (ex-West Ham), Cameron Green (ex-Reading) and Henry Wise (ex-Derby) were also on the bench. Former Arsenal defender Bayli Spencer-Adams is also to be integrated.

“We've based our recruitment on attitude and character and then ability,” said Thomas. “We feel we've got a real good group of lads together with a good attitude, a good work ethic and they want to attempt to do things the right way: they want to listen and they want to learn.”

The fact Sebastian Prödl and Zeegelaar also played today for just over an hour will also do wonders for their development. Prödl talked throughout from the back, performed a nice drag back in the second half and cushioned over a cross with his right instep in a move that almost led to a goal, while Zeegelaar scored the goal of the game and created another for Crichlow.

“Both were class,” said Thomas. “They've trained with us a few times and they were exceptional in attitude and character and it gives the rest of the lads a great platform and a great example. It was like an old-school reserve team game and our boys will have learnt off those two very good pros today. Marvin scored a lovely goal and there were some great finishes. We've seen a bit of that in pre-season and bringing it into a game is exactly what we are after. It's a great start.”

HORNETS: Parkes (GK); Balogun (C), Prödl (Barrett 65), Hudson, Zeegelaar (Green 65); Trialist (Bennetts 71), Phillips, Whelan, Hungbo; Crichlow, Dalby.

Subs not used: Hoskins (GK), Barrett, Green. Wise. 

Dan Phillips (pictured above) and Jayden Bennetts have both completed the paperwork on their respective one-year professional contracts.

The Hornets hold an additional one-year option on deals for the two Under-23 players.

Phillips is an 18-year-old midfielder who was named Academy Player of the Season in 2018/19, while Bennetts (pictured above) - also 18 - is a forward who has previously trained with Nigeria's Under-20s.

Ladies 12/08/2019

Ladies: Chandler Signs For Watford

We are delighted to announce that midfielder Megan Chandler is the Golden Girls’ third new signing of the summer.

Formerly of Charlton Athletic and Crystal Palace, Chandler has vast experience in the women’s game despite still only being 25.

She made 14 appearances when Charlton won the Southern Division back in 2010/11 and then featured often at a higher level, before making the move to America.

Upon returning to England she joined Palace, where she was a regular feature of their side in the Championship last campaign. In total, she played 37 times for the Eagles over the past two seasons.

“I’m very excited to have made the move,” she told watfordfc.com. “It’s a great atmosphere here, the training is really good, the girls are lovely, and I can’t wait for the season to start.

“The facilities here are fantastic. I haven’t explored all the way around yet, but what I have seen so far has been very good. The girls are very well supported it seems, which is always a good thing.

“The competition is brilliant and so is the whole feel of the team. I was just looking to get back into playing regular football and enjoying it again, so this was a great choice for me to make.”

With the Watford squad looking stronger and stronger by the day, it’s not going to be an easy challenge for anyone to earn that place in the starting 11.

“That was one of the things that I liked when I first came here, that people are always challenging for positions,” explained Chandler. “You should never get complacent with your spot and it’s great to have that competition constantly, because it pushes you to be better.

“I want to play as regularly as I can and to keep improving. I want to learn, and I want to be a part of pushing Watford to the top.

“I don’t think we’re going to settle for anything less than being number one this year, so hopefully we can achieve that.”

The signs in pre-season have certainly been encouraging, but now it’s a case of putting everything into action when the league campaign gets underway this Sunday.

“Pre-season was tough, but I’m now feeling fitter and stronger, so I’m ready for the season to start now,” said Chandler. “While there’s still things we need to work on, I think as a team, we’re looking good and sharp.

“It was a great pre-season and I don’t see why we can’t go to Portsmouth, give them a good game and get the first three points on the board.”