Colchester United have travelled to Watford, to take on the newly Promoted Hornets in two matches as pre-season steps up a level.
For the second pre-season fixture ahead of the 2021/22 league campaign, both matches played under an extremely hot sun in North London.
The first game saw the U’s facing Troy Deeney and Ben Foster amongst others, and it was the hosts who looked the strongest in the early stages. They unsurprisingly had the lion’s share of possession but it did take them until the tenth minute to test Shamal George in the U’s goal.
George saved a shot with his feet, but the ref decided that the Watford forward was fouled as he hit the effort and a penalty was awarded. George went the right way but couldn’t prevent Watford taking the lead.
And seven minutes later, the lead was doubled. Possession was lost in a dangerous position and the cross shot that came a couple of seconds later was accurately placed into the bottom corner. There was an intensity in the Watford play that the U’s had to try and match, and they quickly got to grips with it after the second goal.
Luke Hannant, again playing in the right wing back role, put in a dangerous cross that just evaded a couple of players as it flew across the box. That gave the U’s a bit of confidence and they got a goal back just after half an hour had elapsed. The midfield of Alan Judge, Brendan Wiredu and Gene Kennedy pressed and won back possession, and when the ball was laid off to Judge, he calmly slotted back across the keeper and into the corner.
The ploy of pressing nearly worked again ten minutes later, but Freddie Sears put his low effort just past the post. That was the last chance for either side before the ref blew up for a break in play with forty five minutes completed.
Following a swift drinks’ break and chat by the respective management teams, the sides were back for the final fifteen minute stint. The heat was starting to take its toll, with the intensity of play not quite at the levels of the first fifteen minutes. The only effort on goal in this final period came for the hosts, but the shot was comfortably saved by George.
After a lunch break for both sets of staff, the second game of the day kicked off and it wasn’t long before both sides had an early chance – but the hosts managed to score theirs. First, Cameron Coxe shot wide after good work from Luke Chambers, Ryan Clampin and Kwame Poku, then Watford took the lead with a shot into the roof of the net after a cross in from the left wing.
Both chances came in the first ten minutes, and Dean Gerken made a fantastic save from a header to keep out the hosts two minutes later. The game settled into a pattern a bit less intense than the first match earlier in the day, with the increased temperature having an impact.
Chances were few and far between in the next phase, but the U’s put Watford under pressure around the half hour mark. Noah Chilvers was involved in three quick attacks, providing the corner that Tommy Smith headed over, finding Coxe who shot wide and flicking the ball to Poku who also failed to hit the target.
The young midfielder then had a chance of his own, but his effort was saved – seconds before Watford went further ahead. Some quick and clever one touch play around the edge of the U’s box created a clearing, and Gerken had no chance with the low shot into the bottom corner.
Watford sat back after their second, which came on thirty seven minutes, and the U’s found it difficult to create any real chances. The final whistle went after another tough sixty minutes for both sides in the heat, and Hayden Mullins would have been pleased with the workout for the U’s squad despite the 2-1 and 2-0 results.
Next up, Spurs visit the JobServe Community Stadium in the first of three home fixtures for the U’s.
To buy for the Spurs game, or the subsequent friendlies against Gillingham and Ipswich Town, click HERE.