Date: 16 December 2006
Christmas is known to be a season of repeats, but I thought that was meant to be on the TV - not on the football pitch. Today, however, the script was so well known to Cherries’ fans that they could tell you what would happen next. Having held onto a 1-0 lead for 50 minutes everyone was saying, “the ref will somehow find 4 minutes of injury time - from nowhere.” And he did. Then everyone said, “the Gills will equalise during injury time.” And they did. We could even spot the very moment it was going to happen: a 93rd minute corner kick was awarded on the Gills’ right, we packed all eleven of our players not just into defence but seemingly into the penalty area, and Crofts scored. To be honest, so crowded was the area that if Crofts hadn’t scored, one of our players would probably have scored an own goal. Gillingham police and stewards rushed to the away end to quell the expected riot - but it never happened. Everyone except Bonds had seen this coming and we weren’t the least bit shocked, so we just stood still and calmly applauded our team off the pitch.
This was a game, not of two halves but of three thirds. The first ‘third’ lasted 45 minutes and saw both teams performing well, both goalies having some saves to make, and a fairly balanced match. Hayter, playing in the attacking central midfield position, which gave him more scoring opportunities than recent wider positions have, missed a ‘sitter’ from which he’d have scored easily a year ago, and sent the ball screaming over the crossbar. Vokes, looking very lively, scuffed one shot; but compensated for it on the thirty-eighth minute when he won the ball from the now ageing Ian Cox and rounded the keeper to score his first senior goal. 1-0 to us.
The second ‘third’ of the game lasted 30 to 35 minutes and saw total and utter Gillingham domination. Bournemouth hardly got the ball out of their own half during this period, let alone got a shot in; Moss was kept particularly busy.
Then the last ‘third’ of the game: Pitman replaced Vokes (a shame, it would have been good to see Pitman and Vokes together for a while) and Gowling replaced Hayter to join Anderton in central midfield. Both substitutes got forward a lot, and had scoring opportunities; Pitman in particular hit the woodwork twice and Hollands had a shot saved. For the last ten to fifteen minutes of the match both sides moved up a gear and pushed for a goal and it became a thrilling match to watch. No-one could fault any of the Bournemouth lads’ commitment during this period, although - as always - there is scope for questioning the policy of pulling everyone back for corners. A shorter player such as Gillett may as well be left up field in such situations, as he is no use in a defensive capacity.
The starting line-up (with my scores out of ten) was :
Purches (7), Young (8), Broadhurst (7), Hart (7);
Gillett (8), Anderton (7), Hayter (8), Hollands (8);
Fletcher (6), Vokes (9).