Date: 1 January 2001
Pre-match speculation focused on whether Defoe would create a new all-time Cherries record by scoring in eight consecutive league matches. We had to wait until the 85th minute for him to do so, but when he did it was absolutely crucial and it won us the match. It also won Defoe a 'man of the match' award from the sponsors but this was for the run of eight matches, not for this day, on which he had a relatively quiet game. (Although it should be said that Defoe and Steve Fletcher were both stunted by an overzealous linesman giving too many offsides in the second half.)
This was a great match for spectators, especially any neutral ones, as Bournemouth first took the lead, then Luton overtook to make it 1-2 at the break, and then in the last eight minutes Bournemouth scored twice to go back in front.
The absence of Carl Fletcher and Day, both suspended, meant that Grant was awarded a rare start. Not only was he ineffective, rarely getting involved in the game or making any of his passes count, but he actually interfered with the play of others - especially Elliott who found it very difficult to play a fluent game with Grant permanently yelling instructions at him.
Fortunately Grant was substituted at half time, a slight injury to the head probably being O'Driscoll's "excuse" for doing so. Hayter took his place in the centre of the park but the team, now 1-2 down, also re-jigged from a 4-4-2 system to 5-3-2, Purches moving from left full back to right wing back. The players were still getting used to their new roles, Purches looking very effective indeed, when - tragedy! - Purches pulled a hamstring and had to be stretchered off. The players on the bench - Menetrier, Smith, O'Connor, Eribenne - didn't include any likely wing-backs and another rejig seemed inevitable, but initially O'Connor was asked to take Purches' place. He began very shakily, unsure where to pass the ball to and apparently unable to run with it. He often passed across the back line or into touch during this period, but in time he grew into this unfamiliar role and actually remained there for the duration.
Bournemouth played a defensive passing game for much of the second half, apparently trying to coax Luton's players forward, but the tactic didn't work and Luton were happy to sit on their 2-1 lead. Someone said after the game, "we've played better and lost".
The break for Bournemouth didn't come until the 82nd, when we were granted a penalty. Would Defoe take it, and go for the record? No, Hughes stepped forward and tucked the ball neatly into the net to equalise. A skirmish between Hughes and Ovendale, promoted to the Luton goal for the day, followed but either the referees didn't spot it or they judged it to be harmless. Certainly at the final whistle Hughes and Ovendale were the first to shake hands as though to say, "no bad feelings".
Finally, mention should be made of the opening goal in the first half. Steve Fletcher was facing away from the goal when he headed, backwards, a Tindall cross into the net. An excellent goal, and one which - being scored at the Brighton Beach end - caught the home fans napping!
The starting line-up, with my scores out of ten :
Broadhurst (6), Tindall (7), Howe (8), Purches (9);
Elliott (7), Grant (4), Hughes (8), Jorgensen (6);
Defoe (7), S Fletcher (7)
Purches (O'Connor), Broadhurst, Tindall, Howe, Jorgensen;
Hayter, Hughes, Elliott;
S Fletcher, Defoe