Date: 15 April 2006
After a brief perusal of the matchday programme and wondering whether Huddersfield really have two players called Michael Collins (I concluded that they don't - even though the 'two' players were described in different terms), it was time to settle down and enjoy the match. And it was enjoyable too, because there was far more Bournemouth commitment than of late in this entertaining game, especially in the last hour. We felt 'lucky' to be 1-0 up at half time but by the end of the match the result was probably fair. The enjoyment of the afternoon was enhanced by good vocal support from both sets of fans, who even found (can you believe it?) something to agree on (and that 'something' wasn't the ref!): Both fans competed to see who could perform the loudest rendition of that ever-popular ditty, "We all 'ate Leeds."
The team lined up in a 5-3-2 arrangement from the start, although wing backs O'Connor and Purches were given a lot of liberty to run forward. O'Connor 'suggested' a swap of wings at one point, but Purches didn't seem keen, so the set-up didn't change before half time. The only subtle difference from then on was in the organisation of the midfield trio. In the first half Browning had lined up alongside Foley, with Cooke ahead of them in the 'hole'. In the second half, Cooke lined up alongside Foley, with Browning behind them reinforcing the back three.
The major change came at 75 minutes, with the score at 1-1, when two forwards came on for two midfielders; Cooper moved forward into midfield; and the wing-backs became full-backs. For the last 15 minutes we played a genuine 4-2-4, i.e. there really were four players forward, and it was brilliant and exhilarating stuff - with Rodrigues particularly excelling during this period. In a sense, the ideal two players to have been substituted would have been Foley and Browning - our two weakest players on the day. But the decision to keep Browning on the field was probably influenced by the fact that we had no reserve goalie on the bench! Anyway, it was Foley and Cooke who were substituted, and O'Driscoll - having one of his best games in ages - is to be congratulated on making the right substitutions and making them early enough to have an effect. All he needs to rethink now is his policy on opposition corners. We still leave no men up for these - not even one of our dwarves - so we have real difficulty in clearing the ball from the danger area.
Huddersfield dominated the first half hour of the match, but then came our goal. This was the result of one of the dodgiest bits of goalkeeping seen in some time. Purches passed the ball to Fletcher who, feebly and with his left foot, kicked it goalwards. The goalie seemed to have it smothered but then somehow managed to assist its journey into the back of the net. 1-0! Soon after, Hayter got a much clearer and easier chance to score, but got his foot underneath the ball rather than behind it and the goalie wasn't making any mistakes this time! So we got to half-time 1-0 up, having probably only had two shots on goal. On the 70th minute, the Huddersfield goal was - like our goal - the result of poor goal-keeping, but not as bad as what we'd witnessed at the other end in the first half! The simplest of taps from short distance was sufficient to level the scores.
In the end, though, the Battle of the Goalkeepers was won by Town. Towards the end, when we were playing 4-2-4, Rodrigues guided the ball down the right flank and - seeing his cross blocked by a Town defender - rammed the ball against the defender to win us a corner. For a while nothing at all happened, because the team appeared to forget that our corner-taker had by now been substituted! Eventually, Hayter and Cooper both volunteered and ran to the corner flag together. Thankfully, Cooper took the kick, immediately launching a campaign to see him installed as our regular corner kick taker! From one of the best corner kicks you'll ever see, the ball sailed across to be met by Howe's head, whence it looked certainly goal-bound until the Town keeper performed the save of the match. There were a few more chances for Bournemouth in the closing minutes, all involving Rodrigues in some way, but none as good as that one.
The starting line-up (with my scores out of ten) was :
Cooper (7), Young (8), Howe (8);
O'Connor (7), Browning (6), Foley (5), Purches (7);
Fletcher (7), Hayter (7).
O'Connor, Young, Howe, Purches;
Rodrigues, Fletcher, Hayter, Pitman.