Watford U21s 0
Barnsley U21s 2
An excellent away performance from a Reds side fielding multiple U18s players, mixed with some first team, saw them come away from Premier League Watford with an excellent win and clean sheet.
Goals either side of half-time from Charlie Harris and Josh Scowen saw the Reds gain a deserved win in a match they controlled from start to finish.
The first half began in quick fashion with Harris opening the scoring inside the first ten minutes. Quick build up play with no less than ten passes going through the Reds' midfield, gave Harris the chance to turn and curl an excellent effort past the hapless Simpson in the Watford net.
The hosts were getting frustrated at the Reds organisation and ability to keep the ball, meaning their only real chances were long-shots from range. Just before the break however the home side did get a chance as Alex Jakubiak raced through one-on-one, only for Nick Townsend to make a superb save.
The second half began in excellent fashion for Barnsley’s young side as three quick chances asserted their authority in the match. Two efforts from Brad Ash forced Simpson into a good save for Watford, before Jack Cowgill towered above the defence, but his header hit the bar.
With half an hour remaining, the anticipated second goal did arrive as Josh Scowen converted a penalty after Otis Khan drove into the box and was brought down. A few more chances were exchanged either way after that, but the Reds defence held firm to secure a dominant away win.
Head of Academy Coaching Mark Burton gave his thoughts following the win.
Burton explained, “It was a difficult trip because we got stuck on the motorway for an hour and a half so kick off was delayed! It threw our preparation out the window a little bit, but we started really well and we got on the front foot against a good Watford side.
“It was a great start, then we controlled the game. Josh Scowen and Jak McCourt controlled the middle, with Nick Townsend and Jack Cowgill being excellent at the back. Nick had the total confidence of the back four and did really well.
“In the last ten or 15 minutes I thought we defended the box well and showed the resilience we need. We played good football but we also defended well to get a deserved victory which didn’t flatter us at all.
“We worked on our shape which follows down from the first team. Hecky (Paul Heckingbottom) and I have worked together for a number of years and we know what the club wants.
“We’ve only conceded three in the last five so goals against us is not a problem and today we managed to show that quality in the final third as well.”
Reds XI: Townsend (GK), Wardle, Cowgill, Nyatanga, G. Smith, Khan, McCourt, Scowen, Templeton, Harris, Ash.
Subs: Murphy (GK), White, Maxwell, Carvel, Jeffs, Alton, Tuton.