Our U18s claimed an impressive 3-1 win over a strong Watford outfit at the London Colney Training Ground on Saturday afternoon.
Emmaisa Nzondo reached double figures for the campaign with his first half strike, while debutants Luke Alker and Mbogba Malachi were also on the scoresheet as the young Reds ended the regulation Professional Development League season in style.
The early exchanges were fierce and lively, with Barnsley seeing the lion’s share of possession and they came close to breaking the deadlock when Vimal Yoganathan wriggled his way into the box only to see his effort saved at the near post.
Our U18s remained persistent in their hunt for the opener, and shouts for a penalty were raised soon before the break when Leo Farrell advanced into the box and appeared to be hacked to the ground, but nothing was given by the referee.
Minutes later, Nzondo darted into the area, before threading the ball through the Watford defence and to the feet of Farrell, whose resulting strike was tipped away by the Hornets goalkeeper.
The young Reds’ attacking endeavours would eventually be rewarded five minutes before the break when Nzondo pounced on a defensive mishap to tap the ball home from close range and maintain his recent fine goalscoring form.
HALF-TIME: Watford 0-1 Barnsley
Our U18s began the second half full of confidence and almost doubled their lead when Farrell latched onto Owen Warburton’s looping cross, but he was unable to adjust his body in time to have a shot on goal.
The hosts grew into the game and began to dominate possession, with Trent Carter-Rogers called into action on multiple occasions, most notably when he dived low to prevent a long range strike from finding the bottom corner.
Despite Watford’s new-found attacking threat, our Young Reds were eager to extend their lead. First, Warburton’s menacing ball across the face of goal evaded everyone in red before Farrell danced his way into the Watford box and forced a good save from the goalkeeper.
The hosts were eventually rewarded for their persistence, though, when a yellow shirt prodded in from close range following a goalmouth scramble to level the scores.
Our young Reds responded brilliantly to their setback and regained the lead instantaneously. Straight from kick-off, the ball was played to up the pitch to Alker, who slalomed into the box before finding the bottom corner with a fine effort to put his side back in the ascendancy.
Deep into additional time, our U18s continued to dominate and struck gold yet again when Mbogba Malachi received the ball from Jack Woodcock and tapped in to seal the victory.
FULL-TIME: Watford 1-3 Barnsley
REDS XI: Carter-Rogers (GK), Trialist, Lundoloki, Murchison, Doyle, Wilkinson, Yoganathan, Warburton, Farrell, Graham, Nzondo.
Subs: Senior, Woodcock, Swift, Malachi, Alker.