Date: 7 November 2006
Our first thoughts on arriving at this match were, “We’ve been conned!!” Advertised on the Cherries’ website as a first XI practice match for Saturday’s cup game, it was obvious from the team sheet that - unless Bond was planning wholesale changes - this was no first XI. None of the starting eleven from the previous Saturday were included in the night’s squad at all.
All the Bournemouth team looked bright, and keen to impress, apart from much-hailed trialist striker Patrick Dimbala. So if he gets picked by Bond now, we’ll have all the evidence we need that Bond’s living in another world! One trialist, Tyrrell Lewis - who played as right wing back and later right full back in the second half - looked lively. Another trialist, Greg Crane, was the sort of tall, strong centre-back that every club can use. And he scored a goal too! Loanee Ainsworth was asked to play in four different positions - left wingback in a 3-5-2, central midfield in the ‘hole’, striker, and left winger in a 4-4-2. He particularly excelled in the wide positions and scored two goals! And Coutts also looked good when playing in a wide position, as he did for the latter part of the game. Coutts’ excellent crosses, like Ainsworth’s, were somewhat wasted on the night and it would have been good to see what could have happened if Hayter or even Fletcher were on the end of them.
So we started off kicking towards the clubhouse. Ainsworth was busy from the start and getting in some good crosses, but our first shot at goal didn’t come until the twelfth minute - when Pitman headed over the bar. Crane put us ahead three minutes later with a header following a corner. Eastleigh responded quickly and shot wide, but within another minute Ainsworth had put us 2-1 up with a good goal.
Just after the half hour mark Moss deflected a powerful Eastleigh shot that was definitely heading for the target, to give away an Eastleigh corner which they wasted. But just before this we had changed things round slightly. Ainsworth (who had been playing left wingback) swapped places with Allen (who had been playing in the ‘hole’ behind the two strikers), everyone else continuing as they were. Ainsworth interpreted his new role differently from Allen, getting forward more much often to create something like a 3-4-3, which was how he managed to have two more shots at goal within a minute of each other. And just before half time Pitman had another shot that was weak and easily saved by the Eastleigh keeper, and was to prove Pitman’s last ‘contribution’ to the game.
Three changes at half time saw the introduction of Lewis for Khalil at right wingback, trialist Jerome Okimo for Allen at left wingback and trialist Bradley Bubb for Ainsworth in the ‘hole’. Other slight changes saw Cooke and Coutts swap sides in central midfield, and Ainsworth move up to replace Pitman up front. Ainsworth scored again - at the far end - within a minute of the re-start. To complete the scoring a cracking free kick from an Eastleigh player easily beat Moss on the seventy-fourth minute. The introduction of trialist Allen Headley for Crane (NOT, as the match day announcer said, for Cooke - who remained on the pitch till the end), resulted in a switch to 4-4-2. This gave more players the chance to shine as, on the night, we seemed particularly blessed with good wide players; but it didn’t lead to any more goals.
The starting line-up (with my scores out of ten) was :
Gowling (7), Crane (8), Hart (7);
Khalil (7), Cooke (6), Allen (6), Coutts (7), Ainsworth (8);
Dimbala (5), Pitman (6).
Lewis, Gowling, Hart, Okimo;
Coutts, Headley, Cooke, Ainsworth;