Viral Nets Twice as U23s Draw With Watford
Monday, 10th Feb 2020 15:32
Allan Viral scored twice as Town’s U23s drew 2-2 with league leaders Watford and a wet and windy Playford Road.
In a strong cross-field wind, Ben Morris struck the game’s first shot in the seventh minute but Watford keeper and skipper Adam Parkes saved confidently down to his right.
Watford, who included England international Tom Cleverley in their midfield, his first game since October due to an achilles injury, should have gone in front in the 16th minute when Callum Whelan profited from a Corrie Ndaba error and broke into the area one-on-one with Adam Przybek. The 21-year-old looked certain to beat the advancing Przybek but slipped the ball the wrong side of the post.
Two minutes later, the Blues took the lead. Liam Gibbs crossed from the left to the far post from where Frenchman Allan Viral, a scorer and creator for the U18s in their weekend 5-3 victory over Bristol City, took a touch before hitting a low shot across the keeper and into the corner of the net.
Viral, making an impressive start to his U23s league debut, had a chance to make it 2-0 in the 21st minute when he was sent away towards goal by a ball over the top. The right midfielder twisted and turned his way past a defender on the edge of the box and ought to have shot but instead played it across the area towards Morris but behind the striker, who was wearing the captain’s armband.
Town continued to have the better of the chances, Brett McGavin hitting a 24th-minute shot from the edge of the box which deflected wide. Five minutes later, Cleverley smashed a freekick from 25 yards into the wall.
On 37 Ndaba made a saving challenge after initially failing to deal with a freekick sent into the box from the right with the strong wind playing a factor.
Watford were starting to make more of an impact and in the 43rd minute Barry Cotter did well to get back to take the ball away from Ignacio Pussetto when he was through on goal.
Moments later, Levi Andoh hit a volley into the ground and wide from a corner on the right.
In the final scheduled minute of the half, the Hornets levelled. After a break down the middle, the ball was played to João Pedro in space on the left of the box and the Brazilian forward hit a low shot across Przybek and into the corner of the net.
Cleverley made way at the break with Sam Dalby taking over and the Blues began the period strongly, Morris hitting a low shot which Parkes tipped wide. From the corner, Andoh headed wide at the far post. On 50, Oppong shot over from distance.
Four minutes later, as rain began to fall heavily, the Blues restored their lead. Morris laid the ball off to Viral, who had moved to the left side, and the Frenchman curled in his second of the game from the edge of the area.
Morris shot over on 64 and Town were the better side in the remainder of the half as the rain lashed down, but without creating any further clear-cut opportunities. At the other end Watford saw shots deflected over and wide but without Przybek being severely tested. Late on, right-back Barry Cotter limped off with a knock.
Overall, the young Blues, now without a defeat in five games, just about edged it against the league leaders in difficult conditions.
Among those watching were manager Paul Lambert, assistant Stuart Taylor, new academy academy coach Terry Butcher and Norwich legend Grant Holt.
U23s: Przybek, Cotter (Curtis 84), O’Reilly, McGavin, Andoh, Ndaba, Viral (Z Brown 71), Hughes, Oppong (Healey 65), Morris (c), Gibbs. Unused: Alley, Fehrenbach.
Watford: Parkes (c), Barrett, Perkins, Spencer-Adams, Green, Cleverley (Dalby 46), Whelan (Wise 76), Dele-Bashiru, Pussetto, Cassidy, João Pedro (Bennetts 67). Unused: Balogun, Roberts.
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