Graham Pearcey

Graham Pearcey

Gillingham 1 Cherries 0

Date: 20 August 2005

Having ended, last week, our six month stint without a home win, I guess it always on the cards that today our good away record would also end. It's early in the season, so 12th place in the league is no big deal, and losing just 1-0 to a recently demoted Championship team is not that bad a result. But it is essential that Sean learns the lessons from this match now. One is that the lumbering Fletcher is getting past his sell-by date. Another is that Cooke is nowhere near ready for first team action yet. A third is that our second-half line-up (3,5,2) works so much better than the first half 4-4-2. And the fourth is (how many more times do we say this) that it is pointless pulling 11 players back for every opposition corner-kick. At least keep one or two shorties up (and we're not - erm - short of them).

The team was unchanged from the previous week except that Cooper had replaced Coutts on the bench. (Coutts was among the crowd - watching his fitness levels by eating a banana and drinking water whilst everyone around him was enjoying steak and ale pie and coke!) As the teams were first read out, the announcer paused briefly after "Moss" and for a very long time after "Browning" to give the crowd time to react! Browning turned out to be Gillingham's hero when he "scored" an own goal - although it was the merest of deflections which we didn't spot at the time. It looked simply like Claridge had scored - and only seconds after a previous attempt of his had hit the bar.

The goal, coming shortly after a dodgy decision by the referee (Andy Hall had a fussy game, and neither set of fans appreciated his decisions), enraged the Bournemouth supporters and a few scuffles broke out. One fan was escorted out of the ground, allegedly after being caught on video making a racist remark. If it's true, that's fair enough, but the "arrest" still appeared a bit heavy-handed. Some thought at half time that this had been the greatest excitement of the half.

Claridge, on his debut (at the age of 39!) was heavily involved in the game - missing the post shortly before being involved in the goal. He was substituted a minute or two before full time - but probably only so that he could receive a standing ovation from home fans, not because he was showing any signs of tiring. Howe - himself not as young as he once was - was given the unenviable task of marking him, while at the other end Ian Cox marked his former team-mate Fletch. Cox remains popular with the Bournemouth fans and received applause at the end.

Gillingham totally dominated the first half and could have been three up by half time. Bournemouth's greatly changed line-up in the second half looked stronger and there was always a small chance of getting something from this match. But it must be pointed out that on one notable occasion Howe denied the last man in the penalty area and somehow got only a yellow card. Neither were Gillingham granted a penalty. After that, a draw would scarcely have been a fair result.

The starting line-up (with my scores out of ten) was :

Moss (9);
Young (8), Maher (7), Howe (8), O'Connor (7);
Spicer (8), Stock (7), Browning (8), Surman (7);
Fletcher (6), Hayter (8).

After all three substitutions the line-up was :

Gowling, Young, Howe;
O'Connor, Cooke, Browning, Stock, Spicer;
Hayter, Rodriques.

My 'man of the match' : Moss.

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