Reserves 0-2 Watford
Thursday, 8th Feb 2001 21:43
Goalkeepers played an important part in Town's reserves' defeat at home to Watford. Mike Salmon missed out with a knee injury, James Pullen was controversially sent off and sub Lee Hulyer made a spectacular howler.
Trialist Stephen Cosgrove from Manchester United showed he had pace and probably had Town's best chance - a header that Watford goalkeeper Richard Lee fsaved very well from an excellent Sean Friars cross. However, he didn't really impress the watching George Burley, Tony Mowbray and Colin Suggett. Amongst the scouts keeping an eye on the game was Bruce Rioch, ex-Norwich boss, now the main man at Wigan.
The first half didn't lack chances most of which went to Town. Nabil Abidallah hit a shot just over on 40 and a minute later the Dutchman was booked for shooting after the referee had already blown for offside.
At the other end James Pullen was getting a bit of a battering from the Watford attack. He collided with Fabian Forde on a couple of occasions, but was generally commanding and impressive.
The second half saw both Richard Naylor and Wayne Brown come off ready for action against Arsenal on Saturday. On came Steve Burton for Naylor and Steven Moffat for Brown. Both were amongst Town's better players in a half which saw Town once again on top but where they ended up conceding two.
Town's best chance fell to Neil Midgley when he was put through one-on-one with keeper Lee by Burton. Midgley's shot was tipped wide by the keeper. Midgley nearly got on the end of a loose ball from the resulting corner.
Abidallah hit a shot which was saved on 54 and Moffat got the ball away from just in front of the Town goal-line when Pullen had been unlucky to be beaten when bravely diving at the feet of Forde.
But the real drama was saved for the last fifteen minutes. Braithwaite ran through on goal with only Pullen to beat. The Watford number four took the ball to Pullen's right and the keeper appeared to get the ball before the attacker fell to the ground. Referee Conn seemed appropriately named as he pointed to the spot and harshly sent Pullen off.
Forde scored the penalty and Hulyer came on in goal replacing Friars. Five minutes later Hulyer rushed out to clear after an error from Moffat. Unfortunately the young keeper hit clean air and the ball dribbled into the penalty area and Bradley Hughes passed it home. It was a cruel blow for the youngster who plays most of his football for Chatteris and studies at the Town Academy.
And that was that really. Town pushed forward, the disappointing Abidallah missed a good chance from ten yards and the referee blew the final whistle.
Town's best players on the night were Ashley Nicholls and Justin Miller, however honourable mentions must go to youngsters Lee Beevers and Steve Burton who both looked more than comfortable despite their lack of reserve experience.
Town team: Pullen, Beevers, Karic, Nicholls, Miller, Brown (Moffat 45), Abidallah, Cosgrove, Naylor (Burton 45), Midgley, Friars (Hulyer 75).
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