Date: 23 November 2002
Through the previous week there had been a debate on the AFC Bournemouth internet list about the need for a "cheer leader" with a microphone to encourage fans at Dean Court to "make more noise." As if to prove that no such animal were needed, the travelling fans at Roots Hall made the greatest racket you've ever heard for the first fifteen minutes of this match! It was the sort of support (by 550 or so fans under a very low roof) that makes one proud to be a Bournemouth fan. I was thinking, "the home fans must be so impressed by the support our team can muster, and I now realise why (according to the matchday programme) some of them want this North Stand for themselves."
For that fifteen minutes it felt as though the Cherries were unstoppable, and there was no doubt that somehow or other we would win this game. The team responded accordingly and gave everything. But the ball just wouldn't go in the net - in fact it didn't go very near to it at all - and after a while both fans and team lost momentum.
There was only one other time in the game when that much noise was generated, or that much confidence was felt, and that was when our one and only goal was scored during the second half. Elliott was brought down on the edge of the penalty area, the referee pointed to the spot, and Wade wandered away as if to say, "Not my responsibility any more." When O'Connor stepped up to take the spot kick I realised that, for once, I could watch without feeling any nerves. This guy will always score. He kicked the ball low to (his) left and into the corner of the net. Goal!
There were very few other goal opportunities. Thomas had the best chance, winning the ball and shooting wide during the second half. Browning had an opportunity in the first half, and there were a few occasions when Hayter got into the perfect scoring position but couldn't make it count. That was about it. At the other end, we looked pretty solid in defence. Our weakest link was Narada, who was poor going forward and seemed to panic a little too readily in one-to-one situations with Southend attackers. Also on one occasion he failed so badly to defend his patch that Broadhurst had to rush over to help him, and in the process got himself yellow carded. A bit sad on the lad's 100th start for the Cherries.
So 1-0 it was, but this was enough to restore the Cherries to third place in the table, the position they'd occupied at the start of the week.
The starting line-up was (with my scores out of ten) :
Purches (8), C Fletcher (7), Broadhurst (7), Narada (5);
Elliott (7), O'Connor (8), Thomas (7);
Hayter (8), S Fletcher (7).