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Match Report: Watford U23 4 Brentford B 1

Nikolaj Kirk scores in defeat for B squad in Hertfordshire

14 July 2018

Brentford B lost 4-1 to Watford Under-23s on Saturday afternoon at The Hornets' Colney Training Ground. Nikolaj Kirk scored in the second half but he couldn't spark a comeback as The Bees succumbed to the hosts. 

Kevin O'Connor handed goalkeeper Patrik Gunnarsson his first start in a Brentford shirt, behind a back four that included fellow new signing Luka Racic. Ali Coote was also given the captain's armband for the first time this season.

It took eight minutes for Watford's Michael Folivi to force a save from Gunnarsson in the Brentford goal. A low effort from the edge of the box, the Icelandic stopper did well to scurry across his line and palm the ball wide.

A few minutes later, The Hornets scored the opener. Alex Jakubiak danced his way through a crowd of brown shirts and then squared for Folivi to tuck home from close range. 

With quarter of an hour gone, Joe Hardy was played in by one of the Brentford trialists but the ball just fizzed away from him as he tried to tuck it in at the near post. Instead, it ran just wide of the target.

Hardy was then in again, this time getting his head to the ball in front of goal. Confusion after a Brentford corner had allowed Jarvis Edobor to flick the ball back into the middle, there Hardy tried his best to nod the ball onwards but it lacked power and dropped nicely for Sam Howes to collect.

After almost half an hour, Coote sent a ball through the back line for one of the trialists to get through on goal. Joy Mukena was on hand to get ahead of the shot just in time and send it over the bar.

Then it really should have been level when Hardy was released one-on-one against Howes. The keeper came charging out of his box and Hardy tried to sneak the ball beneath him, but the Howes got something on the ball and it rebounded back into the middle. 

Straight down the other end, Watford snatched a second goal. A quick break allowed Randell Williams to cut the ball back for Jakubiak on the edge of the box. He turned and then shot low into the bottom left corner to double the home side's lead.

Brentford managed further chances before the half ended, including two very similar efforts than ran wide after low crosses from Ilias Chatzitheodoridis. 

Kirk had the final say in the half, blocking a shot from Folivi from really close range. The Danish midfielder did well to get himself in the way as the Watford forward looked destined to tuck it away.

After the break, it took the hosts 13 minutes to get another goal. This time a mistake from Gunnarsson as he dwelled on the ball for far too long after it was played back to him. Shut down by a combination of Folivi and Jakubiak, the latter managed to poke the ball home after it had squirmed free.

With an hour gone the yellow and black stripes made nine changes to their side. The fresh legs had an immediate impact.

Breaking down the right hand side, Watford charged through the back four and one of the forwards got a shot away in a crowd of players. It was saved by Gunnarsson, who spread himself well.

After 62 minutes, Kirk scored his goal. Getting the ball down the left from Chatzitheodoridis, he cut inside and crossed low into the Watford box. It was cleared straight back to him so he decided to go for goal, and it paid off. The keeper could only parry it into his side netting and Brentford had found a way back into the game.

Hardy then could have made it 3-2. Chatzitheodoridis collected a through pass from Edobor, which had split the Watford defence, and played it to Hardy. The striker hit it first-time but the shot whipped just inches wide of the target.

Then Gunnarsson was in action at the other end. A quick turn and shot from the middle had him scrambling backwards as he tipped the ball on to the crossbar. It bounced up and then came off the bar a second time before Edobor was back in to clear his lines.

Kolbeinn Finnsson was causing trouble in the middle for The Bees all game long and almost had an assist when his ball through found Chatzitheodoridis in space on the right wing. The fullback hit it on his right foot for a change and Howes had to be alert to parry the ball away from danger.

With eight minutes to go, Watford had a fourth. A corner kick was floated over to the far post and, thanks to some confusion at the back, a Watford player stood ready to volley it into the net unchallenged. 4-1.

With 84 minutes gone, Chatzitheodoridis slipped the ball through to one of the Brentford trialists, who cut inside and sent a shot narrowly over the apex on the right hand side. 

Racic was on form until the very end as well, closing down a Watford break all by himself and getting the right side of the ball to clear the danger in the dying minutes. He got a pat on the back from Gunnarsson for working hard until the final whistle.

Brentford B: Gunnarsson; Talbro, Racic, Edobor, Chatzitheodoridis; Kirk (sub Trialist 76 mins), Coote, Finnsson; Trialist (sub Mitchell 57 mins), Hardy (sub Trialist 76 mins), Trialist (sub Titov 57 mins)

Watford U23: Howes; Forster, Mukena, Leighton (sub Trialist 31 mins), Gordon; Charles, Pereira, Folivi; Cassidy, Jakubiak, Williams

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