Date: 12 August 2003
The match was overshadowed - at least at first - by matters other than football. The tragic death of Jimmy Davis had left the Watford fans stunned. It was good to note that, if anything, the Bournemouth fans showed even more respect than Watford. It was announced that Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise" was a track special to Jimmy, because he'd sung it to his team mates at a recent away game. When the first chord of the track was heard, the Bournemouth fans were the first to stand in respectful silence, the Watford fans following suit. (Perhaps we could hear the loudspeakers more clearly - or perhaps we know our music better?) There followed an impeccably observed one minute's silence.
The other dominant factor was the late running of the game, and the concern on the part of Bournemouth fans as to what time they'd get home. I had to abandon any plans to use public transport myself! The delays were caused by a 15 minute late start ("crowd congestion"), the respects shown to Jimmy Davis, and the extra time. Thank goodness there were no penalties, or Bournemouth fans would have been returning home on the first train of the following day!
The match itself? Well we did really well to hold a first division side at 0-0, at their place, until the second half of extra time. Credit particularly to man-of-the-match Carl Fletcher, and the ever-improving Broadhurst. (The full backs struggled at times.) But already one starts to wonder where the goals will come from this season. We needed a Connell, (or A Connell?) always in the right place; but Hayter, Thomas and O'Connor (who saw an excellent shot go wide early in the first half) all looked threatening at times.
The players we're most relying on to make all the difference from last time we were in Division 2 - Moss, Cummings and Browning - were all disappointing at times. Moss made up for it somewhat by an excellent save from a free kick in the second half of normal time, after Purches had handled the ball just outside the area. And Browning somewhat redeemed himself by his ability to wind up Helguson, an act which nearly got them both into trouble and which eventually led to both being substituted in extra time.
Eventually Scott Fitzgerald, who'd only just come on for Watford, guided home a cross for them in the second half of extra time. We brought on Holmes and Tindall - mainly I guess because they are both potential penalty takers - but they had little effect.
Feeney (who'd come on for a tiring Thomas in the second half of normal time) had a desperate shot seconds later, but the one goal would prove to be the decider.
The starting line-up was (with my scores out of ten) :
Purches (7), C Fletcher (9), Broadhurst (8), Cummings (6);
Elliott (8), Browning (7), O'Connor (7), Thomas (8);
Hayter (7), S Fletcher (7).