Graham Pearcey

Graham Pearcey

Cherries 2 Rotherham 0

Date: 14 January 2006

On the face of it, this should have been a very satisfactory result. Proof that there's Life Beyond Stock; two early goals that settled the result; three useful points to draw us nearer to the play-off zone; another good performance from Foley; Hayter running his socks off and getting involved in every part of the pitch; Stewart having a quiet game but still managing one wonder-save when he punched a Rotherham shot over the bar in the first half; Coutts showing tremendous promise, which can only be realised if he gets a reasonable run in the side, and linking up particularly well with Hayter.

So why did we leave this game feeling a little uncomfortable? Well, firstly this was inexplicably one of the lowest home gates in ages. Then there are some questions O'Driscoll needs to answer: why was Fletcher played when he wasn't fit (effectively meaning a 'wasted' substitution)? why did it take so long to substitute him when his hamstring had clearly gone and he was just walking about wounded? why was Rodrigues kept on so long when he was having such a dreadful day? and in any case why did he start in the right midfield position? why did O'Driscoll 'do a Machin' and 'substitute the substitute' (Coutts) even though he was one of the best players on the pitch at the time? And a question about the central midfield pairing of Purches and Browning: why didn't it work? It's the same pairing we adopted to great effect several times during the Millennium Stadium season, so what's the problem now - is it just that they've both got older? And a question about possession: why did we have so little of it, especially in the first half, at home against a relegation zone team? (Rotherham could rightly feel aggrieved to have gone in 0-2 down at half time.)

Anyway, for the record the early goals were scored by Foley (within two minutes of kick-off) and Hayter (not long after). On both occasions, but especially for the second one, the Rotherham goalie gifted us with several rebounds before the ball went in the net.

As I've already indicated, despite the two goals, we actually played better in the second half than the first. There were two golden scoring opportunities in that half. One was when Hayter passed to Rodrigues who was so close to goal that there was really no excuse for shooting wide. The second was when Coutts had a scoring opportunity himself, but deftly side-footed it to Foley - who was actually even better positioned to score, but was taken a bit by surprise and mis-shot. Towards the end, when Pitman came on he had a scoring opportunity with his very first touch.

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

Stewart (8);
O'Connor (8), Young (8), Cooper (7), Hart (7);
Rodrigues (5), Purches (7), Browning (6), Foley (8);
Hayter (9), Fletcher (5).

After all three substitutions the line-up was :

O'Connor, Young, Cooper, Hart;
Purches, Tindall, Browning, Foley;
Hayter, Pitman.

My 'man of the match' : Hayter.

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