Date: 13 October 2002
In some senses, this match was a repeat of the England game the previous day: dreadful playing conditions, 1-0 down at half time, 2-1 up at the end, and a dispute over the scorer of the final goal!
But, in fairness, the new Dean Court can cope a lot better with incessant heavy rain than the Slovakian stadium could. Such is the drainage under the new pitch that it was hardly fazed at all by the rain, and must have looked brilliant on TV. There was flooding on the access road - and inside the gate between the North and East stands - but the pitch was unaffected.
The wind was therefore more of an issue than the rain - and Bournemouth were running into it for the first half. It gave us a second good reason for not attempting high balls (the first reason being that so many of our taller players - Steve Fletch, Chukki, Holmes, Tindall, Maher - were unavailable), but still we DID attempt them!
The second half was always going to be the one where we came good, with the wind behind us, and I'd have liked to see Chukki or Steve Fletch start that half. We spent too long chasing the game. Hayter did have a reasonable game, and several goal attempts, but I felt other players would have had more. For the record, Connell, Browning, Stock and (later) O'Connor also got into some good scoring opportunities; while Young and Thomas got some excellent crosses into the box.
The key facts were as follows. Hartlepool got an early goal when an attempted Browning back-pass to Moss found a Pool player's feet. They then had a man sent off for a challenge to Hayter in the box, and the felon took so long to leave the pitch that Elliott lost his nerve and missed the ensuing penalty. Elliott himself scored Bournemouth's first (from close range) to go some way towards making amends. And Steve Fletcher claimed the last Bournemouth goal as he went for the ball - but actually he never touched it and it went in off the guy (Widdrington) defending him.
No Bournemouth player had a bad game. But as usual I'll give my scores out of ten as I list the starting line-up :
Young (6), C Fletcher (6), Broadhurst (7), Purches (7);
Elliott (6), Browning (6), Stock (7), Thomas (8);
Hayter (6), Connell (7).