Date: 8 September 2007
This was a unique experience for me in over thirty years of following the Cherries: not just seven player changes since the last time I saw them (which would be bad enough), but seven players I’d never seen in a Bournemouth shirt before. I likened it to a Coronation Street fan turning on their favourite soap and discovering that most of the characters had moved out of the street overnight and been replaced by new ones. Would that person be a fan anymore? Would I? Well, I needn’t have worried. With 15 of us meeting up in the Exiles pub, we were off to a good start for a pleasant afternoon out, and I was soon reminded what team I support! Then working out who was who was relatively easy, because at least the squad numbers are logical at last: 2 and 3 are full-backs, 5 and 6 are centre-backs, 4 and 8 are central midfield; just as you’d expect. Plus, some players are quite distinctive looking anyway: Gradel with gold-coloured hair to match the away shirt and Christophe (not named in the programme) wearing yellow boots!
Speaking of the programme, another rarity: on-loan goalie Begovic is one of our three top league scorers for the season to date! But the reason is, we’ve only had two league goals; so Begovic is the first of those on zero goals when listed alphabetically! Bond’s new team is clearly built from the back. Begovic seems very competent, though not greatly tested apart from one notable save. I didn’t see (or hear) him organising the other defenders; he seemed simply to manage his own game. But there may have been some organising going on, that I wasn’t aware of. We then had two full backs with centre back experience, and at least two midfielders with defensive experience. All of which goes to explain the great result defensively: only conceding one goal, when at the home of the current league leaders, is very creditable indeed. Now we just need to work on our attack...
Telfer and Anderton, in midfield, are very much holding players - meaning that route one to goal was rarely attempted in this match. (In fairness, Anderton had an excellent one-to-one on the Orient keeper in the first half, but his shot was saved.) So, it fell to Cummings and - more often - Gradel to try and advance our cause via the wings. This proved problematic: neither of our full backs was quick enough (except on a few occasions) to overlap with the winger, who was therefore required to hold the ball up on his own for as long as he could. Inevitably this often resulted in a rushed cross and Kuffour and Bradbury, though they got into good central positions, and supported one another, were not quite good enough: usually positioned a yard too deep. Gradel won us a lot of corners too, but they seemed to go the same way.
Bournemouth totally dominated the first half in terms of possession, showing great energy and enthusiasm, but failing to capitalise on this because every final cross suffered the fate described above. Towards the end of the half there was evidence of a little disillusionment (though no less determination) sinking in, because the players couldn’t think of a Plan B. We rather hoped Bond would come up with something at half time, but when the teams emerged there was no evidence that he had. In fact is was Orient who were reinvigorated: they now looked a lot livelier and the game appeared to be a mirror image of the first half - until Boyd spun round and fired a shot home in the 71st minute.
Earlier in the second half we’d made two substitutions. The first was Pitman for Kuffour, though it wasn’t obvious why, and in fact Pitman had a poor game. Then it was Christophe (central midfield) for Cummings, resulting in Telfer moving onto the right wing and Gradel onto the left. None of this prevented Bournemouth coming away from the match empty-handed which - based on possession anyway - was somewhat undeserved.
The starting line-up (with my scores out of ten) was :
Young (7), Gowling (8), Perrett (7), Garry (7);
Gradel (7), Telfer (7), Anderton (8), Cummings (7);
Kuffour (7), Bradbury (7).