Date: 5 March 2002
Cherries began the game without my previous choice for man of the match, Thomas, and having replaced him with Tindall, who was so appalling in the first half on Saturday! An inauspicious start, and when we were run off the park by Reading for the first half hour or so it looked like it would be 'more of the same'. We conceded a goal after just three minutes, but thereafter a much improved Stewart kept us in the game with four excellent saves, making up for poor defending in front of him.
For the next hour of play, however, Bournemouth found a new lease of life and gave a spirited performance and Holmes had a shot on goal. When we started the second half as we'd ended the first, it seemed a Bournemouth goal couldn't be long coming. In a near repeat of the Purches goal at home to Stoke, Feeney had a great run down the right flank and crossed to Holmes in a central position; Holmes' shot was parried and Hayter on the left scored with a beautiful curling shot. There could have been another goal in a minute or two as Bournemouth kept up the pressure but in fact we had to wait until the 75th minute for Holmes to head in for 2-1 to us. Feeney, Holmes and Hayter kept featuring in Bournemouth attacks and were playing well together.
A rare Reading break in the 80th minute led to a quick goal for 2-2 as a result of more poor Bournemouth defending, but neither side sat on this. Both clearly saw the match as winnable. Young, who'd had a great game, was substituted after his longest run out in 18 months. Later, man of the match Feeney gave way to Eribenne. But not before the moment everyone will remember for a long time. Feeney won us a penalty after a great run, there was a brief discussion (Feeney was tiring and had already been on the floor once) and Elliott stepped up to take it - with just six SECONDS of normal time remaining according to the stadium clock. And he sent a powerful kick all the way up to row Z of the visitors' stand.
Reading pressured us in injury time and we somehow held on. But the result of Elliott's missed penalty was that what could have been a triumphant end to the match turned into feelings of dejection - especially when we discovered that Bury and Northampton had both won their matches that night, so we were now deeper in the mire than ever.
There were only 13,000-odd in the stadium of whom 1,000 were from Bournemouth. At Reading that looks like empty! But any neutral fans there will have enjoyed a very entertaining match indeed.
As usual I'll list the starting line-up with my scores out of ten :
Young (7), Maher (6), Howe (7), Purches (6);
Elliott (6), O'Connor (6);
Feeney (9), Holmes (8), Hayter (8).