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96/97: Reserves:

Avon Insurance Combination, 6/11/96
Southampton Res 2(1)
Scorers: Basham, Watson
Watford Res 1(1)
Scorers: Simpson
It didn't rain!
Report by Chris Lawton

Once again I ventured into byways of leafy Hampshire in my quest for the Staplewood training ground for the reserves against Southampton. The ground is somewhat elusive - a bit like trying to get to Crystal Palace. Having eventually arrived I wandered round the pitch to join Don, Kate and a few other Watford die hards.

Before the game commenced we were expecting a rout. The Saints had six players in their side with, at least, Premiership experience. This included Magilton, Watson and Moncur (why he is only in their reserves is another matter). On the other hand we had six players who had all made about one appearance in our first team. Still at least it wasn't raining (see last years report !)

The game started and in the opening minute the Horns went close when a shot was blocked by a defender and the ball eventually scrambled clear. Not surprisingly Southampton pushed forward and barely a minute later were ahead. Basham ran through and as Chamberlain came out he could only take the pace off a fierce drive and it just crept into the far corner. A rout looked even more likely.

Credit to the lads though. They battled back and within a few minutes were level. Colin Simpson shot home from the edge of the box after the Saints had failed to clear. The rest of the half was fairly end to end with Southampton enjoying more possession. The Horns, however, kept their heads up and Simpson should have scored a second when he only had the keeper to beat.

Half time came and clearly someone in the Saints dressing room had said something as they came out early and fired up. Within 5 minutes they were ahead, Gordon Watson volleying in from close range after good build up play. After that Saints looked comfortable. Watford chased and pressured well where they could but unfortunately the class and fitness gap showed. By the end of the game Southampton should have wrapped it all up but credit the team for they kept fighting and looking for a way forward. I should point out that our players are not unfit as such. Older players tend to be fitter anyway and we didn't have many of them.

There is hope, however. The team showed the sort of fighting spirit that has been lacking some of our performances over recent years. The players were prepared to get stuck in and fought well - probably why it wasn't a cricket score result. On a down side no one particularly shone out in the team, but then no-one played particularly badly either.

According to Don we have to stay out of the bottom six to stay in the top southern division. If the players show the same spirit then they should manage this.