Date: 22 September 2007
This was a warm sunny afternoon for the time of year; the sort of afternoon where no-one minds sitting without cover at the open end of the ground - especially as this meant we were charged a much lower entry fee than had previously been advertised. Not that any of our supporters seemed to be expecting a favourable result. Before arriving at the ground we’d thought we had more injured players than actually turned out to be the case; but even so, we wouldn’t have been surprised to be told the final result would be 1-4. In fact, it was the one Bournemouth goal that turned out to be the biggest surprise! 1-1 was a very satisfactory half-time score though, even then, it was barely deserved and there was a feeling that we were hanging on.
Unlike our recent visit to Orient, we didn’t exactly have opportunity after opportunity in the first half today. And we certainly didn’t dominate the game. But like Orient, we tried to play our second half exactly the second the first, while the more skilful home coach was adapting his side’s tactical game. Bond never seems to be able to think of a Plan B, does he? His half-time team talk always seems to consist of, “More of the same, lads, will do just nicely…” Whereas, of course, it won’t.
So, two minutes into the second half, a Telfer back-pass was poorly cleared by Begovic, and one Paynter capitalised. Never heard of Paynter? You soon will; he scored twice more! In the 64th minute with a quick-thinking ‘snap shot’, and five minutes from time attaining his hat-trick with the simplest of tap-ins. Cue Bournemouth supporters, who for some time had been quitting the ground in dribs and drabs, now to stage a mass exodus. We were losing 4-1 to a team that weren’t even particularly good; though in fairness, particularly in the second half, they were more ‘up for it’. And to add insult to injury Swindon had actually got the ball in the net five times, because one ‘goal’ had been disallowed for off-side. The game had deteriorated since Paynter's first goal, and Begovic had lost all confidence. Various permutations of our strike-force (Vokes for Kuffour; switching to 4-4-2; trying Hollands or Cooper on the wing; or even tucking Christophe in behind the strikers) all failed to stem the decline for the simple reason that our weakness was at the back not the front.
Bond had responded to the injury crisis by playing two full-backs, Young and Pearce, at centre-back. (This was Pearce’s debut game in front of me.) He’d then played two oft-times midfielders, Telfer and Wilson, as full-backs. And to cap it all he’d asked two out and out strikers, Pitman and Kuffour, to play as wide midfielders; making life very difficult for Bradbury as a lone striker. If you add to this the fact that Cooper and Anderton can both play in a number of positions, then effectively 8 out of 11 Bournemouth players have recent experience playing somewhere else on the park. No wonder they didn’t settle well. Apart from the Bournemouth goal, there was little to excite our fans; probably the next best scoring opportunities were Cooper right at the start of the match and the Christophe corner right at the death - which the Swindon keeper only stopped at the second attempt.
For completeness, detail of the first half goals. Cox’s goal came on the break after Cooper’s early shot, already mentioned. Hollands’ reply in the 37th minute was an excellently executed goal because he timed his run perfectly to meet Kuffour’s cross, get ahead of the Bournemouth strikers (or should I say striker?) and slide the ball home. This clearly helped Hollands’ confidence, as he doesn’t always get picked for the side, and we could visibly see him raise his game from then on.
The starting line-up (with my scores out of ten) was :
Telfer (6), Young (7), Pearce (6), Wilson (7);
Pitman (7), Cooper (6), Anderton (8), Hollands (8), Kuffour (8);