Date: 28 December 2002
The fans were very disappointed with this game, and especially mistakes made by loanee goalie Blayney (who has let in six goals in 48 hours), and Tindall, which gave goals away.
Bournemouth dominated the first half, and the latter part of the second, getting a large number of balls into the box but often finding the box empty or coming to the feet of Hayter who was having an off-day. Good overlapping play between Young and Elliott on the right wing was particularly successful, until Hayter was moved onto the right wing in a curious substitution that weakened the team. Thomas, though poor in his free kicks on this day, nonetheless was pacy on both wings and got in some good crosses.
Bournemouth got a good early goal from Browning, standing at the edge of the area and receiving the ball from a Thomas cross from the right, after it had eluded everyone else on the way. Our second goal, a header from Steve Fletcher that seemed to enter the goalmouth in slow motion, was the result of another Thomas cross. Between the two, Browning made an excellent shot from an Elliott pass, but it hit the bar. 2-0, 3-0 or more would have been a fair result at half time based on possession and on scoring opportunities, but for two unfortunate occurrences. Following a Blayney clearance from a corner, the players were advancing from the Bournemouth goal when Flitcroft unexpectedly gained possession, saw an opportunity, turned and drove the ball hard through the legs of all the players in a crowded penalty area to score a brilliant goal. And at the death of the first half Tindall was judged to have handled the ball in the penalty area (though it appeared unintentional) and Rochdale scored easily from the spot.
Rochdale went ahead for the first and only time during the second half when a poor Blayney clearance gifted the ball to Platt and - while Bournemouth players including Tindall were claiming a handball - he scored easily. The crowd's reaction to Blayney was not based on this one goal alone, but on similar errors that he got away with - one before and one after the goal.
Fortunately towards the end Steve Fletcher was fouled in the penalty area in front of the North Stand, and O'Connor scored a slightly clumsy penalty that bounced into the roof of the net to his left.
The starting line-up was (with my scores out of ten) :
Young (8), C Fletcher (7), Tindall (7), Purches (7);
Elliott (7), Browning (8), O'Connor (6), Thomas (6);
Hayter (6), S Fletcher (7).