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98/99: Reserves:

Avon Insurance Combination, 24/2/99
Watford Res 2(0)
Fulham Res 0(0)
Team: Day 4, Gibbs 4, Iroha 4, Bakalli 3, Ward 4, Pluck 4, Gudmundsson 3, Mooney 3, Ngonge 2, Bonnot 3, Perpetuini 3
Subs: Panayi, Grieves, Cornock
Scorers: Gudmundsson, Mooney
Title within reach
Report by Pete Fincham

Small crowd for a Wednesday (267), but a thoroughly enjoyable game of football none the less! The night before I witnessed Erith v Chelmsford and anything must be better than that, and I was not disappointed as both sides fielded teams made up of genuine potential and experience.

Neither side made much of an impact in the opening exchanges, although the runs of Perpetuini down the left did cause Fulham some problems. But it was Fulham who forced the pace for most of the opening 45 minutes, cuminating in Chris Day making a spectacular save away to his right from a long range shot.

In midfield it was Watford who were on top with Bonnot running the show ahead of former Arsenal favourite Selley, while Bakalli picked up the bits and pieces with competence. Mooney spectacularly volleyed over from 15 yards shortly before the break, but as the game went on the class of Gibbs, Pluck, Ward and Iroha showed, effectively rendering Salako and Lehman redundant throughtout.

Mike Scofield turned up at half time and as is unique to Mike, Watford scored shortly after! A long and mazey run by Iroha down the left got him into the area where he rounded yet another player before shooting to the keepers left. From our angle it appeared to have gone in, but was announced as a Gudmundsson goal, with him getting the final touch on the line.

Shortly afterwards the second came from an excellent cross from Gudmundsson, and Tommy Mooney headed powerfully home at the back post.

At this point the game seemed to be drawing to an early close, but Ward and Pluck remained resolute under pressure from Betsy who replaced Lehman, while Mooney went close and Gudmundsson should have scored after beating two players on the right.

Now second in the league with a game in hand, the title is within reach for the first time in my memory. And all last nights achievements done without Tommy Smith! Lets hope we don't see him in the reserves ever again!

Scofield's arrival triggers win
Report by Andy Stocks

Before I begin, how on earth can this be a reserve team match. A brief glance at these sides and you could be forgiven for thinking that this was a first team match. I can only guess how many first team appearances there were between the sides, but we are talking loads. This is a good sign for the future of both teams.

The teams lined up as follows:-

Watford:- Day, Gibbs, Iroha, Bakalli, Ward, Pluck, Gudmundsson, Mooney, Ngonge, Bonnot, Perpetuini.
Subs:- Panayi, Grieves, Cornock

Fulham:- Arendse, Uhlenbeek, Brazier, Keller, Palmer, Mcanespie, Selley, Davis, Paul Brooker, Salako, Lehmann.
Subs:- Betsy, Knight, Keevill

I hadn't seen Bakalli play, so was looking forward to seeing him, and the talented young Fulham striker Kevin Betsy was there, although I was disappointed to see him only claim a place on the bench.

As the game started, Watford appeared to have greater possession and territorial play. Perpetuini continues to look bright down the left wing, and supplied a number of fine crosses. One set up Mooney for a spectacular volley from 15 yards, but it cleared the bar with ease.

The back four (Gibbs, Pluck, Ward, Iroha) looked very solid throughout. Iroha was combining well with Perps down the left, and he can really jump. For someone only 5'9", he has no right to win as many balls in the air as he does. I'm not going to argue though.

For all the possessional superiority, we didn't create enough chances. In fact Fulham probably had the better ones. Chris Day had a great game. I hope that we can keep hold of this guy, he is good.

Bonnot had a great game. I was under the impression that he was skilful but lazy. I was wrong. On this showing he is a class act. He chased everything down, waded in on challenges and showed flashes of brilliance. Yes, this was only one match, but he must surely be pushing for inclusion within the first team on this performance.

Bakalli on the other hand looked very ordinary. The most interesting thing I can say about him is that he looks like Danny Grieves - well, from a distance anyway. He constantly looked out of position and provided some wayward passes. He did put in some good tackles though. Those people that haven't seen players play at all, yet say they ought to be in the first team really ought to get along to a reserve team game, or read the list more because then they would understand why these people aren't in the first team. Bakalli certainly didn't look like a replacement for Gibbs, although to be fair he was in centre midfield, so perhaps he was out of position.

So, 0-0 at half time, and not a bad half really. Then Mike Scofield turned up and reminded me that last time he turned up we scored two goals immediately. Well, Mike, you ought to come to every reserve game late because you did it again. Watford took the game to Fulham a bit more in the second half and created some decent chances. An excellent Iroha run and shot from the corner of the area hit the post and appeared to creep in, but I was assured that it was Gudmundsson that got the final touch on the line. 1-0.

The second came from an excellent cross from Gudmundsson, and Tommy Mooney hammered home the header at the back post. True, the Fulham keeper flapped, and the defence went on holiday, but it was a good move and a deserved goal for Mooney who gave his all throughout. He looks so fired up at the moment. 2-0.

I really can't over-state how well Ward and Pluck played, but especially Ward. He is a class act. He looks to have totally recovered both mentally and physically from his broken leg. He's even put on some bulk and looks fairly intimidating. His touch is amazing and he looks comfortable on the ball, he would make an excellent sweeper. He must be close to the first team, he is truly a class act.

Ngonge, well, he's good in the air, but on the ground he is a frustration. I want him to succeed, I really do, but he just doesn't look any better than Tommy Smith, Gifton, Wrighty or Smart. I'll be patient, perhaps he just needs a bit more time.

Kevin Betsy came on for Fulham in the second half and looked dangerous. Watch out for this lad in the future, he is good, he could be great.

So, an excellent performance that keeps the reserves right up with the leaders in the reserves table. Mr Fincham insisted that we count the crowd in Rupes' abscence and it was 267 plus two dogs!!

I do enjoy reserve matches. They are relaxed, friendly, the food is great and Pete always amuses us by attempting to chat to the linesman. Good stuff.