Cardiff City res 2 - 0 Swindon res

Last updated : 19 April 2006 By Paul Evans

When Plymouth were beaten 2-0 at Ninian Park in early March the reserves were still unbeaten for the season and looked well on their way to retaining the title they had won in the previous two seasons. However, three defeats in their run of away matches meant that Cheltenham took the title and there was an end of season feel to today's game which was played for the most part in heavy rain.

Although it was a young City team that played today, it was one with plenty of experience at this level with Anthony, Parslow and Kift all back from spells at other clubs and only striker Ian Robinson and Monday's first team debutante Darcy Blake being relative newcomers to second team football.

Swindon's side had a total of seven players with first team experience this season in their starting line up one of whom was local boy Christian Roberts and included thirty eight year old former Forest player Ian Woan on the bench (he came on for the last twenty minutes or so).

The game got off to a slow start in dismal conditions and it took about twenty five minutes for the first real bit of action to arrive as Pook's free kick flew narrowly over with City keeper Worgan looking beaten.

Shortly after that though it was City who took the lead against the run of play when right back Ryan Morgan's cross was headed into the net by Darcy Blake. Morgan's ball was a high hanging one which visiting keeper Bulman came out to catch - with the heavy rain making handling difficult for keepers, Bulman's decision looked a risky one, but he never got near the ball as Blake, showing a tremendous leap for someone of about five foot nine, got above the keeper to head firmly home.

The goal had the affect of opening the game up a bit and Blake tested Bulman again with a raking twenty five yarder shortly afterwards, but there was no more scoring before half time.

The second half continued along the same lines - City came closest to scoring when Morgan's cross was deflected on to the crossbar, but Swindon were maybe edging things until City doubled their lead around the hour mark wirh a lovely goal.

If Joe Jacobson gets a chance in the first team before the end of the season, then, hopefully, supporters will be able to see what a sweet left foot he possesses and we may get to see the sort of excellent pinged cross he delivered here as his cross was headed in by Curtis McDonald from around the penalty spot.

There could have been a penalty to both sides after that - actually, in Swindon's case it should have been a spot kick because Roberts was brought down in the box after getting free of Anthony. The ref seemed to be in the process of pointing to the spot when the ball broke to Holgate who had the seemingly simple task of knocking the ball home from point blank range only for Worgan to make a tremendous save. Up the other end, Anthony Taylor fell under challenge from a combination of keeper and defender, but the ref's no penalty decision looked the right one to me.

Of the four players who were involved with the first team on Monday, Jacobson again looked good going forward, but also showed that he has improved defensively. Besides his goal Blake largely kept things simple, but did play one lovely crossfield pass to Curtis McDonald which was wasted. Based on what I have seen of him, McDonald has had a quietish season this time around, but I thought he had a good game today as, besides his goal, he did some good defensive covering and showed more of his ability to run with the ball. Jamal Easter played up front and looked pretty sharp in his link up play although he never really had any scoring chances.

So ends another home reserve team season which has seen the league winning team of the last two years begin to be broken up. Stalwarts of those teams like Fish, Anthony, Fleetwood, Kift and Parlsow have been absent for some of the campaign for one reason or another and you get the feeling that the younger generation will be taking over from now on. Of the older players, I think Anthony and Parslow have done well again at the back, but I wonder if either of them will still be here next season?

As for the younger players, Darcy Blake has shown in just a few appearances that he can cope comfortably at this level and I like the look of Academy captain Michael Corcoran, but my player of the Year for the reserves, pipping Jacobson and Easter for the award, is Andrea Ferretti - although Ferretti's performance level has varied quite considerably at times, his sheer weight of goals means that, for me, he has made the biggest impact at reserve team level this season.

One last thing, for the previous two years I have watched the last home reserve match of the season hoping that I wouldn't have to go to the wind tunnel that is Leckwith Stadium to watch any games the following season - surely, the reserves won't be playing there again will they, after all, we all know it's going to be knocked down in the autumn!