Ah, serendipity is a wonderful thing. I was travelling for work and due to get home early afternoon. My son was on half term and my wife teaches at a school 20 miles up the M1 from where we live. As the reserves’ league is based on the “north” we rarely get a chance to see them. So the fact that we had no game for a fortnight and Kyle was due to make a comeback – hopefully to help our final push on promotion – made it the most obvious thing in the world to go scuttling up the M1 to see the stiffs take on Forest reserves at the City Ground.
After a quick drink near the ground, we wandered into the antiquated “Main Stand”. There was a decent sprinkling of SAFC supporters amongst the 300 or so crowd. First disappointment was no Kyle. Apparently he is going to need another week. Pity as I think him coming off the bench in the last 25 minutes in a difficult game could be a potent weapon. Second disappointment was no Poom. I think he is Jacobsed (cream crackers – geddit? Hertfordshire rhyming slang). However, we did have Lawrence and Welsh playing as wingers, Lynch making a miraculously quick return at right back and Matt Piper making a return playing up front with Chris Brown. In central midfield and captain was Richie Ryan, remember him? No, not did I. I thought he packed in playing for us about 1998. Apparently not. The rest were men of mystery – at least to me.
The Forest supporters sat behind us started off complaining that we had such an experienced team while all bar one of their players were still eligible to play for the under 18s. As the game wore on their complaints became more exaggerated so that by the middle of the second half they were claiming that three of their midfield were in fact foetuses. As the game went into injury time they were adamant that their goalkeeper was an unfertilised egg.
Our experience showed and we had control of the game most of the time. My interest was mainly in Piper. He seemed fit enough and took a few bashes that he came through OK. He actually scored the first goal with a header, which was nice for him. He does seem to have a habit of falling over a little more than I’d like but I’ll put that down to him having spent most of the last three years on his backside. He came off after about an hour and was taken gingerly down the tunnel by two of our staff. I assume this was just for them to check him out, as he seemed perfectly OK. Even if he gets up to match fitness, I suspect he is miles too rusty to play any meaningful part in the end of season run-in.
Welsh and Lawrence were both effective but at this level it is hard to shine as they both sometimes can. Welsh came off in the second half but Lawrence played the full game. I thought that was good as Lawrence seems to need a bit of football under his belt (he got booked for dissent mind, which I thought was bad). Lynch was tidy and effective and did a lovely run into the box from a quick free kick to make our third goal (scored by the superbly named Niall Flynn) at the death.
The class act to me was Chris Brown. Amazing to think this was his level until a few short months ago because he looked head and shoulders above the rest. He didn’t score but he made the Forest defence’s (sorry, the young Forest defence’s) life a misery.
Richie Ryan reminds me of Thomas Butler – he looks an accomplished reserve team player – and that is what he is likely to stay. I thought he scored the second but it seems to have been credited to one of the men of mystery.
So a 3-0 win – a canny way to spend a spring Tuesday evening. Bring on QPR now – can’t believe how long we have to wait for it.