Date: 23 September 2006
It's now been three games for the caretaker managers - all draws! Of the three, though, this was their luckiest point to date. Apart from ten to fifteen minutes at the start of the first half, and five minutes at the start of the second, Scunthorpe controlled this game and must feel hard done by to have come away with only one point.
We began brightly enough. We'd lined up as 4-3-3 and for once I found myself totally approving of the line-up. Cooke, who deserved to start following recent performances, did so. And Best, who deserved not to start, didn't! And it was a genuine, attack-minded, 4-3-3 too, with Cooke and Hayter playing either side of Fletcher up front. The fact that this was almost my dream line-up, but it achieved so little, shows just how little I know about anything! A particularly effective 'team within the team' turned out to be Foley-Hayter-Fletcher working together. In fact they almost produced something within 30 seconds of the start of the match, when Fletcher passed to Hayter, who found Foley, who shot wide. And not long after, another excellent Foley corner (just like the ones last week) connected with Hayter and his shot only narrowly missed. But then Scunthorpe started to dominate, and before long they'd scored. In a busy Bournemouth goalmouth, Young and Fletcher both cleared the ball only to see it come straight back in off Scunthorpe players. And the second time it happened, it gifted Scunthorpe a 0-1 scoreline.
But we were back in the game within three minutes. Cooke - in one of sadly few moves this game that justified his selection - won us a free-kick. Anderton slammed it goalwards from at least 35 yards out, and it was in the corner of the net! A brief pause before everyone had even realised what had happened - including Anderton himself. A wonderful goal - and obviously very important as it proved to be worth one point. But Anderton would have been my man of the match even without this goal. He was in a different class from our own players. He could have three opponents onto him and still conjure up a clever pass. It was just a shame that not all the players could read his intentions fully, to Anderton's obvious frustration as the game proceeded. Such mutual understanding will maybe come as they get used to one another. Anderton's only weakness is that he doesn't (at present) have the ability to go the full ninety minutes (mind you, today all our players looked tired by the end). But at least by playing a central role (as expected, because that was the position he'd played in Tuesday's friendly) he won't need to cover as much ground as he would as a winger.
There were no more goals. As already noted, Bournemouth started the second half again brightly (once the referee and linesmen had appeared - why were they so late?). And indeed Hayter got the ball into the net four minutes in, following yet another move involving Foley and Fletcher, but was ruled offside. But as Scunthorpe switched to 4-4-2, and effectively forced us to do the same, our game fell apart. The substitution of Ainsworth for the mostly ineffective Cooke was useful, and Ainsworth worked hard in a wide right midfield position. There was a necessary replacement of Anderton (to a standing ovation) with Cooper; and later Best for Fletcher - which made no difference whatever as Fletcher was by now playing little part in the game and Best proceeded to do the same! It was very late before Scunthorpe made any substitutions at all - a tribute to their starting eleven. They had numerous scoring chances in the second half, right up to the end, which kept Stewart busy (and our other defenders - but increasingly their panic reaction was simply to keep giving away corners). In particular, two great saves from Stewart near the end kept us in the game, and if it hadn't been for the Anderton Factor, he would have earned himself another man of the match award - from me anyway.
The crowd looked like only about 4500 but we were assured it was over 5000. No doubt there were a lot of media in that number, there to see Anderton; as well as several would-be future managers - including Hoddle apparently. Meanwhile, the caretakers are still looking for their first win. Maybe that will come on Tuesday...
The starting line-up (with my scores out of ten) was :
Young (8), Broadhurst (5), Gowling (8), Cummings (6);
Purches (7), Anderton (9), Foley (8);
Cooke (5), Fletcher (7), Hayter (7).
Young, Broadhurst, Gowling, Cummings;
Ainsworth, Cooper, Purches, Foley;