Date: 12 February 2005
This was a welcome win - and even more welcome clean sheet - after a poorish run, and I put that down to the fact that I gave the team the benefit of my attendance for the first time this calendar year! Most people agreed that the margin of Bournemouth's victory was an unfair reflection of Oldham's play but, what the hell, we've had plenty of days when we've got less than we've deserved! This was a very open game, and the excellent referee minimised the stoppages and bookings. Indeed the only booking was for Oldham's defender, Hall, in the thirty-ninth minute. He'd stopped O'Connor (who else?!) and arguably under the 'last man' rule he could have been sent off - but it would have been harsh. He was yellow-carded but was extra lucky to get a caution (not a second yellow) only a few minutes later, which would have resulted in a sending-off and a less flowing second half. It did mean, however that Hall had to play cautiously from then on, so was less of a threat to Bournemouth's strikers. Meanwhile, Stock's free-kick following the booking was an attempt at a curling shot straight to goal, and it was only just wide - on another day it may have been successful.
Apart from the longterm-injured Tindall, and shortterm-injured Broadhurst, O'Driscoll had a full squad to select from. Fletcher took over as captain, shouted instructions throughout the match (although in practice Howe seemed to be organising the defence), and had a good match himself. He scored the first goal (a close-range header off an Elliott cross) and was substituted late on, knowing he'd done all that was asked of him well. We thought he'd give the captain's armband to Browning - who had by now replaced the less than effective Stock, and started to play just in front of the centre backs to shore up the defence - but instead he passed it to Purches.
Despite a bright Bournemouth start, and a multitude of scoring opportunities after that, Fletcher's goal was the only one separating the teams at half-time, and Bournemouth had already played their preferred direction (towards the North Stand - usually reserved for the second half). So no home fan would have been too confident about what was to come. But Oldham continued to fritter chances early in the second half, and then O'Connor, who can't seem to stop scoring at the moment (and none of them penalties!) put us 2-0 ahead after a pass from Fletcher. We started to wonder if Hayter would score, and if O'Connor would catch him in the goalscoring stakes before end of the season, but - off a Cummings cross - Hayter scored our third goal. Shortly afterwards, Fletcher and Hayter were replaced by Holmes and Connell in a double substitution. Holmes could have scored with his first touch, if he'd shot either side of Oldham's 'keeper instead of straight at him. The game now remained at 3-0 (with the previously noisy Oldham fans starting to sneak off) until deep into injury time when O'Connor (assisted by Connell) scored another.
Oldham will rue all their missed opportunities - caused either by Moss's excellent saves or by their own poor finishing skills. On one occasion in the first half, two Oldham players on the Bournemouth goal-line both missed the same 'sitter'!
The starting line-up (with my scores out of ten) was :
N Moss (8);
Purches (7), Maher (8), Howe (7), Cummings (7);
Elliott (7), Stock (6), Spicer (6), O'Connor (9);
Fletcher (8), Hayter (6).