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95/96: Reserves:

Avon Insurance Combination, 5/10/95
Southampton Res 2(2)
Watford Res 2(1)

Team: Wilkerson, Belgrave, Ludden, Savage, Page, Marshall, Wharton, Grant, Lowndes, Andy Johnson, Peters
Subs: Chris Johnson, Grieves, plus one other
Scorers: C Johnson, Peters
A "must see" fixture?
Report by Tim Lattimer

Although Southampton reserves away is always a must see fixture for those of us who are exiled here, the match was given added spice by the chance to see Nathan Lowndes for the first time. In fact his performance was really of far more interest than the result. So how good is he? Well on the evidence of last night's performance he's none too bad. He's tallish, ginger hair, looks a bit like Paul Scholes (or Iwan Roberts or John Hartson depending on your point of view). A couple of times he got in useful shots from difficult positions, and forced Grobbelaar to make a save each time. One of them was from outside the box and on his left foot which is a good sign - we need someone who'll have a go. A few reasonable little touches and dummies as well, one of which led to our equaliser. On the more negative side I don't recall him winning much in the air (although to be fair their central defenders played well) and he did look a bit awkward at times. Still he's young and hopefully he'll get a bit stronger. He kicked out at one of their players at one stage, so if he does make the first team I shouldn't wonder if he picks up the odd booking. So no change there then. He's at least as good as Beadle anyway, but I don't see him getting too much action in the near future as long as two from Moralee, Mooney and Phillips are available. One for the future perhaps.

Anyway the ground was fairly good, one small stand ran along part of the pitch. The bogs and the tea are both better than at Vicarage Road, and the police don't beat up our players. Due to the injury crisis, which must be well into its third year by now, most of the players aren't in our squad and are just there to make up the numbers. Despite that we played ok, definitely deserved the draw and perhaps a win.

We went ahead in the first half, Chris Johnson curling in a free kick when everyone was expecting the cross. We weren't ahead for long though, their goal coming direct from a corner, when their lad jumped a bit higher than our defenders. Just on the stroke of half-time they equalised with a goal that came from quite a good passing move, although our defence was a bit static.

We came back at them though and played well in the second half. Our goal came from a cross from the left, Lowndesey managed to knock it (possibly via the defender) to Peters, who slotted it in from about 8 metres. If anything we played better afterwards, and might have nicked it, but frankly who cares?

We defended pretty well by and large against a team that had scored nine goals in its previous two home games, fact fans. Wilkerson looked a bit shaky at times but pulled of a couple of good saves. He's a bit dodgy on crosses though, I'm glad we've got Cherry.

Another inspired purchase
Report by Chris Lawton

On a mild night at the Marchwood pitch Watford performed admirably and deserved the point. With a team made up of our own players plus those borrowed from elsewhere we took time to settle down. Paul Wilkerson in goal had to make a couple of sharp saves before we really got going. He also did a great impression of DJ - coming for a cross and completely missing the ball.

Watford passed there way into the game knocking the ball around with suprising confidence. Then of course there was Nathan in his first game as a Watford player. He ran hard up front giving the midfield plenty of options when going forward. His ability to hold up the ball and keep possession also looked encouraging. He wasn't afraid to shoot either but on a couple of occasions a pass may have been a better choice.

We were well into the first half when Watford took the lead. A free kick was awarded some 25 yards out. Chris Johnson scored with what can only be described as curly kick that deceived old Grobbelaar at his near post.

Southampton to their credit kept coming forward and equalised not long afterwards when a deep cross was headed in as their forward rose highest to steer the ball into the roof of the net. Half time loomed when Watford conceded a poor second goal. The back stood around with their arms in the air appealing for offside. Not a chance and the Saints forward drove the ball home from 8 yards out.

Second half and Watford came out battling and looking to equalise. Midway through the half they managed it with the best passing movement of the match. Robbie Peters fed Anthony Grant along the edge of the area and made a diagonal run towards the far post. As the cross came in Nathan looked like he was going to score but instead knocked the ball square to Peters who put the ball in the back of the net.

Both sides had chances to win after that Watford coming closest in the last minute with a shot that just went wide. In the end though a draw was a fair result and the team played well. Nathan Lowndes looks a promising purchase at 5 grand. He runs hard and battles well. Unfortunately we didn't get a chance to see if he was any good in a one on one or his general shooting abilities. Looks like it could be another inspired Roeder purchase.