Date: 29 December 2007
‘A game of two halves’ is a cliché, but this was a classic case. The first half was hardly memorable, apart from two shots from Gradel and one from Christophe. By the time it came to an end, everyone had noticed how much the temperature in the stadium had dropped. The referee did us all a favour by adding no extra time; which was right as there’d been no substitutions, goals nor injuries. The second half, however, was the best performance we’ve witnessed for a very long time, it seemed to fly by and no-one felt cold anymore! Our hearts missed a beat when four minutes’ added time was announced - because Swindon were enjoying their best spell of the game - but not only did we hold on to our much-deserved point, Kuffour actually hit the post in added time. This game, or at least the second half, must have thrilled any neutrals present.
Bond sensibly made minimal changes from Wednesday’s winning team. Indeed we began today as we’d played most of the second half then - a 4-4-1 with Hollands in front of the back four and Christophe partnering Karacan in central midfield. But Vokes alone up front wasn’t working as well today. He was holding up the ball very effectively but, no matter how long he held it up, no-one seemed to come to his support. Maybe those who were meant to do so - Gradel and Pitman - hadn’t recovered from Wednesday’s match yet. The player most exhausted by two games in four days, though, seemed to be Young. At times not only did he not chase the ball, he literally stood still and watched it! It can’t be easy to play at full back at his age - and he still has another match to look forward to on Tuesday!
But shortly into the second half, Swindon scored when Christophe gave away possession. Soon after, they had the ball in the net a second time - fortunately disallowed. So Bond made a double substitution, Bournemouth re-organised, and it was as though the touch paper had been ignited. We switched to 4-4-2, with Henry, Karacan, Hollands and Gradel making up the midfield. Most importantly, Vokes got Kuffour’s support up front and this worked really well. The pace of the game increased just when Swindon least wanted it to! Kuffour got in several shots but most importantly, with his first touch of the game (like Henry on Wednesday!), he scored.
On the 73rd minute Vokes missed a ‘sitter’ from short range. But less than five minutes later, Hollands had put in an excellent shot on target that was deflected by the keeper - at full stretch. From the resulting corner kick, Vokes scored Bournemouth’s second. It was hard, though, to hold on to the 2-1 lead, and Swindon scored again seven minutes from the end. In fairness, 2-2 was a fair reflection of the game.
Off the pitch, the scoreboard worked without a hitch today (see Wednesday’s report). But particular praise must go to programme editor, Mick Cunningham. The programme not only featured a report on Wednesday’s game, it also included that game in all the statistics, all the regular features (manager’s, chairman’s and captain's columns), and all the player interviews. Mick must have worked around the clock to achieve this in 70 hours, and I bet not many programme editors could match it.
The starting line-up (with my scores out of ten) was :
Young (6), A Pearce (8), J Pearce (7), Cummings (7);
Gradel (7), Karacan (7), Christophe (7), Pitman (6);