Date: 11 October 2008
Don’t be misled by the score line; this was a more thrilling match that many higher scoring ones have been. Both sides played well; Bournemouth played best and deserved to win (I would say that wouldn’t I?). OK so, despite our excellent performance, good passing game and numerous shots on goal, we didn’t score; but if we keep playing like this the goals will surely come.
There were two changes from the team I’d watched the previous Saturday. The injured Goulding was replaced in the same position by loanee Rankine - a perfect centre forward: tall, well-built but fast on his feet. Our first good shot came in the eighth minute when Rankine won an aerial battle against the Rotherham defender and headed the ball into the roof of the net at the open end of the ground. Unfortunately, though, it was the outside roof of the net not the inside.
Cummings, also injured, was numerically replaced by Ward, who played as right wing back with Bradbury switching to the left. Although I understood Quinn’s thinking that we should make the minimum number of changes, I nonetheless was unconvinced that this was Ward’s best position - until I saw him play there! He was excellent. Indeed both wing-backs were, and we witnessed some great crosses. If one could criticise one aspect of Bournemouth’s play on the day, it would be the fact that there was too often no-one in the centre to meet the cross.
We dominated the first half. Igoe was playing particularly well, getting into good positions and shooting. Unfortunately every shot missed its target, but full marks to him for trying. Anderton was playing well too, with a classy midfield display especially in the first half; he too was getting shots in, and once in the second half hit the woodwork. Each missed shot was greeted by a chorus of “That’s why you’re going down!” from Millers’ fans, but what they didn’t know was that we don’t normally get the shots in in the first place, so today showed a marked improvement. Rotherham got more and more frustrated but, for as long as the game stayed at 0-0, there was always the chance they’d score on the break. In particular, right on the stroke of half time, they won a corner; every Bournemouth fan held their breath, the cross went in, the shot was on target (for the first time in the match!) - but Jalal saved. Relief! 0-0 at 45 minutes.
Our next fear was of course, based on recent games, that Rotherham would change their strategy for the second half and we wouldn’t change ours. To a certain extent this is indeed what happened, and Rotherham briefly dominated at the start of this period - but it didn’t last, and after this it was all Bournemouth again. Fans continued to fear a defeat, as we’ve seen this happen so often before in games we’ve dominated, but this time we needn’t have worried.
We have to remember that we were up against a team which, if it hadn’t been for their -17 start, would now be in an automatic promotion place. Drawing a game at home against such a team is no disgrace (neither was, the previous week, losing away from home to the top-placed team). If we carry on playing like this we’ll move up the table.
The starting line-up (with my scores out of ten) was :
Ward (7), Guyett (7), Cooper (7), Pearce (7), Bradbury (7);
Bartley (6), Anderton (7), Hollands (6);