Date: 3 March 2007
This must have been the sweetest victory for Kevin Bond since he arrived at the club. Anything other than this, and the Bournemouth fans would probably have been singing “There’s only one Sean O’Driscoll” at the end. But in the event, the fans who did sing this, were probably being ironic. Bond has been inviting unfavourable comparisons with O’Driscoll ever since arriving at the club, but today he won the head-to-head battle. Strangely, Bond employed some O’Driscoll-type tactics, such as playing with only one forward as we sat on our 2-0 lead for the last ten minutes (and that forward was un-blooded youth striker McQuoid), and playing the first half with an unfamiliar ‘diamond’ midfield.
The diamond shape didn’t help us at all. The theory was that Browning take the holding central role (which he did well) and McGoldrick the attacking central role, which effectively made him a third striker. But Wilson and Vidarsson stayed rather central too, giving the midfield no real width. Cummings, as left full-back, compensated for having no midfielder ahead of him by covering the whole flank like a wing-back. But Cooper looked totally lost with no-one to pass to on the right. Having said that, Cooper, Gowling, Wilson and Vidarsson had all been passed fit quite late in the day following a flu virus, and weren’t match fit, so the fact that they played at all - let alone for the full ninety minutes - was remarkable.
While Bond was adopting O’Driscoll-type tactics, O’Driscoll was just being himself. For example, late in the game he switched from 4-4-2 to 3-5-2 (James O’Connor moving from right back to almost a sweeper position) for no other reason than to show he could - which was very nostalgic for Bournemouth fans! Doncaster on the day didn’t look anything like a side pushing for the play-offs. A number of excuses have been offered on their behalf but one has to wonder whether Sean, Richard, James and Brian really in their heart of hearts wanted to beat Bournemouth. Brian Stock, for example, stepped up for one of his trademark free-kicks in the second half, but eventually just guided it softly into Moss’s hands. Was this because the referee had initially blown his whistle when the free kick was taken too soon, and this put Stocky off? Or was it rather that facing the North Stand, where he’d scored the first ever goal in the Fitness First Stadium, brought a lump to his throat?
Doncaster won the toss and, having presumably been tipped off that we like to play towards the North Stand in the second half, forced us to do so in the first half instead. It was a mostly dull first half, mainly down to Rovers’ lacklustre performance, although both sides had a couple of scoring chances. Our best two, arguably, fell to Fletcher. We were well into injury time when a defensive mix-up by Doncaster enabled McGoldrick to set up Pitman, who scored with a good shot. 1-0. In the half-time team-talk Bond evidently asked Vidarsson to play wider on the left and McGoldrick to take over the wide right midfield position, with Wilson moving into the hole. This achieved almost instant results: a clumsy Doncaster back-pass was only cleared as far as Wilson, who was well-placed to pass to an advancing McGoldrick, who volleyed the ball into the top left corner of the net. 2-0.
Doncaster used all three substitutes early, but to no effect. Bond took off all three strikers, maybe at least partly with an eye on Tuesday’s game. But we held on easily, and most of the 6000+ crowd went home delighted.
The starting line-up (with my scores out of ten) was :
Cooper (6), Broadhurst (8), Gowling (7), Cummings (8);
Wilson (6), Browning (8), McGoldrick (7), Vidarsson (5);
Pitman (7), Fletcher (7).