Date: 13 December 2003
Once again Bournemouth showed that the main thing they lack is the ability to score goals. This was never more apparent than after both sides were reduced to ten men; Steve Fletcher played almost alone up front, flanked by Elliott (R) and Feeney (L) who were somehow expected to cover midfield and forward positions. It didn't work; again and again balls were hoofed up to Fletch who - if he reached them - had nowhere to put them. The one time in the first half he had only the keeper to beat, he still somehow conspired to pass to an empty space on his right where there was no player on hand to pick it up.
The first half began with Bournemouth looking very sprightly indeed. But before I could be too encouraged by that, someone had warned that the Accrington game started the same way! Today's game started to get nasty when Grimby's Onoura made a late and unnecessary attack on Maher and got away with only a yellow card. Minutes later all hell bent loose when there was a massive punch up between Bournemouth and Grimsby players with Stock apparently at the heart of it. It took all three referees, on the field of play, to break things up. Stock and one Grimsby player were red-carded.
There was still three quarters of the game to play, but I thought Bournemouth might get the advantage of the situation. O'Connor moved infield to play alongside Browning. (But he'd been very ineffective on the left wing to be honest, and wasn't much better here.) And Elliott and Feeney were asked to play in positions that were neither outfield nor infield; neither midfield not forward; which they did to the best of their abilities. Elliott seemed to pass the ball too quickly, rather than taking on opposing players in the way we are used to seeing him do. Presumably the intention was that Purches and Cummings should run through from defence, and to a certain extent they did - particularly Cummings who had a great game in defence and attack.
Maher started his first match in some weeks and, although looking a little rusty, did quite well alongside Broadhurst. Newly registered youth goalie Scriven had his debut on the bench, but was never likely to come on. But the biggest cheer when the line-ups were announced, was for Connell, now fit enough to be named as a sub.
As in so many recent games Sean made the right substitution but too late. Hayter came on to a great cheer from home supporters, and replaced the ineffective O'Connor. He immediately looked lively, and almost won a penalty appeal. But he was only given four minutes to achieve anything; a tough task even for him!
The starting line-up was (with my scores out of ten) :
Purches (7), Maher (7), Broadhurst (7), Cummings (8);
Elliott (7), Stock (7), Browning (7), O'Connor (5);
Feeney (7), S Fletcher (6).