Date: 18 February 2006
The very welcome pint of Ringwood Ale and Cornish pasty in the Cherry Tree before this game, turned out to be the highlight of a day that was all downhill from kick-off. By the end of the match the fans would be booing as the team left the pitch. For most of the afternoon, Bournemouth looked uninspired, despite being at home to relegation strugglers. (Should one now say, "fellow relegation strugglers"?) We had somehow eked one point out of this match, but a narrow win for Blackpool would have been a fairer result. Blackpool had the lion's share of the possession, especially in the first half and the latter part of the second. O'Driscoll's decision to play 'central' players (Cooke, Fordyce and later Tindall) in wide positions didn't help. Inevitably we played much of the match with a tight midfield diamond but with nothing for the full backs to do when they won the ball except run forward and leave us exposed at the back.
Blackpool started the brighter of the two teams and dominated for three and a half minutes until Bournemouth - on their very first attack - scored. Hayter won the ball in midfield and ran with it, beating several defenders before side-passing it to Fordyce. Fordyce's shot was stopped by the keeper but the ball stayed in play in a crowded penalty area and somehow went in off Pitman's head. It was hard to see what was happening, or indeed whether any fouls were committed, but the goal stood - and will go down as Pitman's first league goal for the club. It came as such a surprise, so early in the match, that it even made the new Daily Echo clock stop!
The second goal was similar in a lot of ways. It too was scored on the break - so during a rare period when Bournemouth were dominating. And it too was scored at the open end of the stadium. Bournemouth had just brought on Fletcher in place of goal-scorer Pitman (in the twelfth minute of the second half! Why??) and we'd actually had a goal-scoring chance ourselves when Fletcher with possibly his first touch had back-flipped the ball to set up Hayter who missed the target.
Hayter had been our most involved and most creative player in the first half, but that miss was followed by another later on - when Browning crossed to Coutts, who touched the ball to Hayter and he shot wide. And to cap it all, five minutes from the end when a Blackpool defender was judged to have handled in the area, Hayter stepped up to take the penalty (after a bit of a delay) and missed that too - or to be more accurate he hit the crossbar. At that point I decided I couldn't possibly award him man of the match, so I changed my selection to Stewart - who'd had a quiet but efficient match.
This was a generally dull game (a sign of things to come in League Two?). Apart from the Hayter shots and penalty mentioned above, virtually the only other scoring opportunity for the Cherries was a free kick, in a good central position 35 yards from goal, just before half time. A pass to someone on the edge of the wall, such as Fordyce, looked the best approach from where we were sitting. But instead, Young decided to shoot high over the wall - and thus over the crossbar too. Somehow this summed up the match.
The starting line-up (with my scores out of ten) was :
Purches (5), Young (7), Brown (7), Hart (6);
Cooke (5), Browning (6), Rix (5), Fordyce (5);
Hayter (7), Pitman (6).
Purches, Young, Brown, Hart;
Coutts, Browning, Rix, Tindall;