Date: 16 October 2004
This was a day when it was good to be a Bournemouth supporter. Port Vale had some brief flurries of activity, but never troubled our defence greatly. As the game started it soon became clear that we could beat Port Vale hands-down so long as we kept the ball on the deck, but we didn't have much chance if we hoofed the ball through the air. Both our starting strikers were dwarfed by their Vale markers, so we were losing everything in the air. But once we settled down and opened the scoring, the result was never really beyond doubt.
The highlights of the game were, of course, our four goals, and each was better than the one before. Shortly after O'Connor and Rodrigues had each missed a sitter, the ever-reliable Spicer opened the scoring in under ten minutes, when he side-stepped his marker and fired a shot with his right foot. Our second goal was the most controversial: Stock's shot was fumbled by the "dodgy" Vale keeper, who dived backwards over the line whilst holding the ball. The referee didn't give the goal but his assistant did. The Vale keeper lost his temper and remonstrated, so got booked; but the goal stood. The Vale fans were very angry and started to jeer the referee and boo Cummings - which was very odd as neither of them had anything to do with it! Stock scored an even clearer goal from the edge of the area just before half-time, so we went into the break 3-0 up.
In the first couple of minutes of the second half we were awarded a corner. Stock played the ball short to O'Connor, who kicked it parallel to the goal line towards Howe. Vale defenders rushed towards Howe but he stepped over it so that it careered on towards Cummings, who neatly chipped it into the top corner of the net. 4-0. One of those pretty set-pieces that don't always come off but, when they do, are a joy to behold.
The only down-side to this match was that Rodrigues appeared to pull a hamstring and was replaced by Fletcher, who was in such poor form that he himself had to be replaced later by Holmes. For once, Holmes looked a better choice than Fletcher, so one hopes Holmes will be picked on Tuesday. Fletcher was a liability in the first half - often getting in the way of Bournemouth shots - and sadly an irrelevance in the second. The starting line-up (with my scores out of ten) was :
N Moss (7);
Young (7), Broadhurst (7), Howe (8), Cummings (8);
Elliott (7), Spicer (8), Stock (9), O'Connor (7);
Hayter (7), Rodrigues (7).