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95/96: Reserves:

Avon Insurance Combination, 6/5/96
Watford Res 2(2)
Ipswich Town Res 3(1)

Bye, then
Report by Ian Grant

Returning to the Vic the day after our relegation, with the Leicester confetti still strewn all over the Rookery like the debris of a party we weren't invited to, it seemed like nobody else had really accepted our fate yet either. We're still all waiting for it to hit us. Slowly we're beginning to realise the our club has just taken another step back whence it came.

I don't really enjoy watching football unless there's some importance attached to it, so reserve games aren't exactly my idea of heaven generally - but on this Bank Holiday afternoon all I wanted to do was remind myself that football doesn't necessarily equate with pain and misery and hangovers.

Yes, it was quite an entertaining game of football, mainly because Ipswich's reserve side are as commendably cavalier as their first team - utterly cack in defence and more than decent going forward. Our reserves have now lifted themselves off the bottom of the table (assuming Brighton haven't won of late), which is slightly irrelevant since it seems likely that the Combination will be disbanded next season as the Premiership clubs seek to set up a reserve league of their own.

Anyway, we took a two goal first-half lead, with a triallist (who looked pretty useful) scoring in the first minute with a well-taken goal and a second coming from a header a few minutes later. It all started to go pear-shaped when Darren Ward was injured, forcing Robert Calderhead to move back into defence - we never looked at all secure at the back after that.

Ipswich pulled one back before half-time and always looked like getting back into the game. The second half, which was entirely dominated by Ipswich, brought two sources of entertainment - the arrival and subsequent booking of Derek Payne and what will henceforth be known as The Quadrant Incident.

First, Derek Payne. It's come to something when Westy looks like a class player but that's the way with reserve games, I guess - in the second half, he did appear to be the only Hornet capable of getting the ball down and passing it to feet. His booking was for a tackle (I guess you can call it that) which involved waiting for an Ipswich player to go past and taking a wild swing which connected at knee height. It looked a tad painful. Minutes later, having become involved with various Ipswich players, Westy was called up by the referee for a drop-ball - for a while, we all winced at the vision of Westy's boot whacking into the Ipswich player's privates but Calderhead took his place. Thankfully - I don't like the sight of blood so soon after breakfast.

And then, as Ipswich took control and equalised, The Quadrant Incident. We were at the bottom of the Rookery and could clearly see that the Ipswich corner-taker wasn't putting the ball in the quadrant - presumably this was his small gesture of rebellion against the referee's tyranny (or maybe he was just being a twat). Kate, being Kate, decided to complain and was informed that "I can do what I want - it's only a reserve game". Very true, sir - so why were you getting so tetchy with the referee just a few minutes before? Anyway, this went on for several corners and all the fans cottoned on, trying to get the referee's attention. Finally, the ref decided to do something about it, fearing a riot or something if he didn't, and forced the Ipswich player to take the corner from the right spot...(you've guessed it)...and Ipswich scored from the corner.

Players? Well, it's the first time I've seen many of this bunch so I wouldn't like to jump to conclusions too much. Colin Simpson, as has been observed elsewhere, is not a footballer; Robert Calderhead is a busy kind of player (according to Kate, he's always the first to congratulate a goal-scorer - in other words, he's near the play but never quite involved in it); Paul Wilkerson shouts a lot (and pulled off one magnificent - and utterly unnecessary - diving header) and Nathan Lowndes is about as ready for the first team as I am. The depth of our injury problems mean, quite simply, that there's no-one here remotely likely to compete for the first-team when everyone's fit. As I said, Derek Payne was a class above the rest of them.

So, that's my football for this season. I hope you've enjoyed reading these reports as much as I have writing them and other corny things like that...