Date: 8 May 2004
We always knew that, despite the planned "beach party," there was nothing depending on this match for Bournemouth, and it would therefore be something of an anticlimax to the season. But we could always hope that we'd see a good game, there'd be some interesting football (maybe more so because the pressure was off), there'd be players working their socks off to get their contracts renewed, and there'd be players working their socks off to get a place in the starting line-up next season. In the event, none of this came to pass. In fact, in the first half of the game, even Brentford - who did have something to play for - made little effort. This match was dull, dull, dull.
It's hard to excuse the disinterest shown by so many players. One can't even say they were tired out at the end of a hard season, because such players as Stock and O'Connor have been rested for much of this season anyway. We left depressed, not so much about 2003-2004, but about how it doesn't bode well for 2004-2005 if we're carrying on with the same squad. Scoring goals is our big problem, and if we couldn't beat this young Brentford 'keeper, who could we beat?
Were there any positives coming out of this match? Very few! Moss, Cummings, Carl Fletcher and Hayter played well; they're really the only reliable players we've got. (Young, Maher, Tindall, Connell are players who could be very useful if they ever regain full fitness, which seems increasingly unlikely.) Broadhurst, as always, played well because he was alongside Carl, but it's hard to believe he'd be up to much otherwise. Browning and "deadly" Derek (the word can only be used ironically, because he never represents any threat to the opposition) probably played the worst they've ever played.
Cummings and O'Connor linked up well, at times, on the left; Cummings overtaking O'Connor at times to advance down the flank while O'Connor dropped back to shore up the defence. We were denied the opportunity to see Young and Elliott perform similar wizardry on the right flank, because Elliott didn't come on until after Young had been substituted.
The only goal of the game came from the promising-looking Brentford substitute Alex Rhodes seven minutes from time. He ran and passed through the Bournemouth defence with relative ease to shoot past Moss. At least it guaranteed we get to play Brentford again next season, which must suit most Bournemouth fans I guess. Bournemouth shots - mainly from Hayter or O'Connor - were few and far between in this game, and almost all off-target.
Some of the craziest policing ever seen occurred at the end of the match. Relieved Brentford supporters ran onto the pitch from three sides, and rioted. Police on horseback all sat with their backs to the rioters watching us as we sloped away disgruntled. What on earth was the point of that?
The team line-up (with my scores out of ten) was :
Young (7), Broadhurst (7), C Fletcher (7), Cummings (7);
Purches (6), Stock (6), Browning (5), O'Connor (6);
Holmes (5), Hayter (8).