Date: 28 December 2004
A team not very different different from the last one I saw (against Chesterfield) played a very similar game and ran into many of the same problems. Again Connell and Fletcher made an uninspiring striking partnership. Connell was too often on his own while Fletcher alternated between playing deep and playing very deep (i.e. as a third central defender). Again Cummings had to play for two on the left wing because O'Connor was ineffective (apart from one shot from distance in the first half that was only just wide of the post). Cummings was brilliant anyway, and let's hope his injury in the 93rd minute was not serious. Young tried his characteristic 'overlapping' play on the right but it didn't quite work, often leaving him with no-one to pass to because neither Elliott nor Stock read the game well today. In addition to these problems we were now missing Howe, so our central defence was awry at times.
The first goal, in the 16th minute, followed the second long run from Cummings in as many minutes. Cummings' first run had ended with a cross that wasn't met, so perhaps that's why for the second run he charged into the penalty area himself and took several players on. A foul appeared to be committed - and Bournemouth fans were shouting for a penalty - when the ball ran out to Spicer on the edge of the area and he shot home through a sea of legs. The second Bournemouth goal, six minutes into the second half, was also scored by Spicer after a Stock corner was played short. Unfortunately both Bournemouth goals were equalised by Huddersfield within a quarter of an hour of being scored, and 2-2 was to be the final tally.
Huddersfield played well enough on the day to deserve this, and no Bournemouth fan would begrudge them a point were it not for some very unsporting play from some of their squad: notably their number seven, Chris Brandon. He first alienated the home fans when - after the ball had been put out of play following a suspected injury to Stock (a false alarm as it happened) - instead of returning the ball to a Bournemouth player he booted it out near the corner flag. After this there were a number of incidents which the referee failed to see, or at least chose not to see, of which the worst was an elbow to Cummings' face for which the linesman flagged but the referee took no action. The dirty play - intended to wind up the Bournemouth players (and succeeding) - resulted in bad tempers on both sides and left a bad taste in the mouth at the end of the game.
The other talking point after the match was the the strange tactics adopted by the Cherries at times. For example, although we played best down the wings, too many balls were hoofed infield where anyone might pick them up. Also, why O why did we bring all our players back for every Huddersfield corner, which meant that even if we did win the ball and hoof it away there were only Huddersfield players in suitable positions to pick it up?
The starting line-up (with my scores out of ten) was :
N Moss (7);
Young (7), Maher (7), Broadhurst (6), Cummings (8);
Elliott (7), Spicer (8), Stock (6), O'Connor (6);
Connell (7), Fletcher (6).