McGreal's patient approach
BARCLAYCARD PREMIER RESERVE LEAGUE (SOUTH)Watford Reserves 0Ipswich Reserves 3WHILE the result will bring a lot of joy to a youthful second string, the progress of John McGreal at such a critical stage will delight Town followers, writes Derek Davis.
BARCLAYCARD PREMIER RESERVE LEAGUE (SOUTH)
Watford Reserves 0
Ipswich Reserves 3
WHILE the result will bring a lot of joy to a youthful second string, the progress of John McGreal at such a critical stage will delight Town followers, writes Derek Davis.
But even though the old fellah looked top notch, and scored the opener, his resurgence after a year out with a string of serious injuries may not come in time with Richard Naylor suspended for the trip to Derby County on November 8.
McGreal admitted he was still in the early stages and was trying to be patient.
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He said: "I have been out for a long time so I doubt I will be ready by then. I have come this far battling back from those injuries so I want to take it steady."
Nonetheless, he was delighted to get on the scoresheet.
He said: "I had been working on something in the first half which didn't come off so this time I decided just to go for it and it fell for me, I attacked it well and it went in.
"I was only going to play 65-70 minutes but at just one-up I stayed on a bit and when the second came I thought that's enough and hoped we could hold out for 10 minutes and then Liam Craig got a great third – a terrific strike.
"It was a great performance by these young lads and they deserved it."
McGreal timed his run to perfection to meet Nabil Abidallah's corner and head down for a confidence-boosting goal on the hour.
Little Abidallah won a header against the big centre-backs from a Liam Craig cross from wide on the left touchline and it looped over the keeper to make it 2-0 with 11 minutes left.
Craig, 17, topped that cross with a fantastic strike from 25 yards five minutes later into a top corner of the net with the keeper standing in admiration.
It was a super win stemming from a hard-working first half and a sparkling second.
Reserve-team boss Steve McCall tried a fresh way to ensure Ipswich were sharp from the off by making them get off the coach near the ground and walk the final couple of hundreds yards to the Vicarage Road stadium on a crisp autumn night.
I'm not sure if it had an effect but certainly they kept the Hornets at bay and soon started taking control with some good work by Scott Barron at left-back while Tommy Miller and Abidallah gave the midfield problems. Daniel Flack was game down the right and Craig won some important challenges on the left flank.
Dean Bowditch was looking hungry and had a cheeky header from a Flack cross tipped over the bar. From the resulting corner Abidallah's inswinger was touched on to the crossbar and over by the agile Steven Graham. The Watford keeper had to be sharp to push away a free-kick by the Dutchman after it deceived everyone else.
Antonio Murray rapped the post with a low 22-yard shot as young Town bared their teeth.
Young Republic of Ireland international Gerard Nash, who captains their under-18s, was given the skipper's armband for Ipswich and slotted in well alongside McGreal, who gained even more vital match fitness and his class shone through.
Price made a brave block with his body to thwart Norville when a free-kick fell to him a yard out but apart from a McGreal interception eight yards out and a Gary Fisken shot across goal, Watford were tightly restricted.
Dutchman Martijn Reuser was pulled out of the squad at lunchtime for compassionate reasons after his wife fell ill.
Matt Bloomfield was also withdrawn after picking up an injury in training and with Alun Armstrong failing a fitness test the squad was down to the bare bones and all five on the bench were scholars.
Instead of the usual half-time score the announcer informed the small crowd that Ian Duncan Smith had lost his vote of confidence – an important night for the Blues.
Meanwhile, Blackburn Rovers have agreed to suspend Alan Mahon's loan period while he recovers from a hamstring injury. He will continue to complete his rehabilitation in Ipswich but it means he will not miss as many games during his loan spell as first feared.
Watford Reserves: Graham, Doyley, Collins, Swonnell. Blizzard, Ifil, Martin (Herd, 72) Godfrey, Norville (Diafutua, 81) Fisken and Young. Subs not used: Coyne, Grant and Kirk.
Ipswich Town Reserves: Price, Mitchell, Barron, Murray, McGreal (Beveridge 82) Nash, Abidallah, Miller, Bowditch (Leabon, 89) Flack, Craig. Subs not used: Knights, Ainsley and Croll.
Referee: D Phillips (West Sussex) Attendance: 350