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98/99: Reserves:

Avon Insurance Combination, 24/3/99
Wycombe Res 1
Watford Res 4
Team: Day, Gibbs, Ward, Panayi, Mooney, L Johnson, Hyde, Easton, Slater, Smart, Ngonge
Scorers: Own goal, Easton, Smart 2
Report by Baz Barry

If I'm not careful I could find myself addicted to these reserve games. This time it helped that I worked round the corner from Adams Park and can take flexible lunches but what better way to spend a cold Wednesday afternoon than watching an impressive reserve performance?

The contrast in experience between the sides eventually came through. From what I could see lowly Wycombe fielded just two players with first team experience. All but three (Panayi, Lee Johnson and Steve Brooker) of the twelve that played for Watford have been in the first team in recent times.

A quiet first half hour was notable only for the own-goal in the second minute from a wicked Easton corner, a spectacular and speculative 30 yard Wycombe volley hitting the bar and Watford scoring a second from the exploding wall free-kick routine with Easton's shot defecting off their wall and sending their goalie the wrong way.

On 35 minutes GT turned up.

Towards the end of the half we made some clever and effective inroads down the left with Slater, Smart, Mooney and Hyde combining well. This ploy was then capitalised upon with interest in the second half when Slater, and to a lesser extent Mooney, constantly terrorised them. It was an impressive 45 minutes from Slater. Time and again he ran at their backing-off defence. Frustratingly, but perhaps predictably, the end product was lacking with a couple of shots ballooning over.

Hyde and Easton eventually settled down to boss the middle, prompting well and with ease. Smart was my man of the match simply for the way he leads the line. Holding on to every ball into him and bringing others into play with the simplest of passes, as well as being prepared to run at their defence. His first goal on 62 minutes was class. A pass from the left, a quick turn leaving the defender for dead and a crisp firm low shot from the edge of the area. He then combined cleverly with Ngonge, only to shoot over with just the goalie to beat. His second goal with 5 minutes to go came from a Mooney cross which the inexplicably goalie left for Alan to lob a header in on the first bounce.

On 70 minutes Day had his first save to make, smothering a shot and shortly after the pacey Wycombe sub was clean through only to see his effort just miss the post. Three minutes from the end Wycombe scored when Gibbsy played in Holsgrove who cleverly lobbed the stranded Day. Otherwise the defence coped well against a lightweight Wycombe attack.

Ngonge looked better than before (QPR) but seems to be the one player everyone else gets exasperated about. His game is #rse about t~t - he chases the wrong balls, goes for the wrong headers, is at the back post when the cross is low at the front, he plays the complicated layoff when a simple one would do. It saddens me but I fear for the numbering of his days. He was happy to subbed with 15 minutes to go and Steve Brooker came on and didn't look out of place.

A grand afternoon.

The last game of the season away to Ipswich could be significant. Make a note in your diaries for the evening of Wednesday April 28th and let's have a party.