Date: 2 December 2008
My feet were like blocks of ice from quite early on in this match; and I was totally frozen after a 40 minute wait at Wimbledon station on the way home; but was I bothered? No, because I’d seen one of the most thrilling matches in ages. It’s a cliché that a match like this is good for neutrals, but actually I think fans of both teams enjoyed it too. What was so good was that all players, on both sides, were really ‘up for it’; the enthusiasm was infectious; and this was a fast and furious passing game from beginning to end. Better to draw a match like this, than to narrowly win a 1-0 in which the goal is the only highlight.
The most enthusiastic players were, unsurprisingly, the newer or younger ones: Molesley, Tubbs and McQuoid. I guess they had the most to prove but of course the latter two are also local youths, genuinely loving Bournemouth. What a contrast to old-timers Anderton and Igoe (both dropped to the bench tonight) and Cummings (omitted from the squad entirely). I lost count of how many shots Tubbs and McQuoid each got in. There seemed to be a ‘shoot on sight’ policy on the night; and, as we all know, this can sometimes come off. In the end, it was Molesley (twice) and Tubbs who scored, both deservedly, and you could see from their faces as they came to the crowd that they were as delighted as we were.
We lined up 4-4-1-1. Jalal will have been disappointed to concede three goals, but it should be recognised that he did nonetheless make a lot of important saves throughout the game. So the scoreline shouldn’t be seen as a reflection on him. Garry, who’d complained that the previous Saturday was his first ever outing as a wing-back, today returned to the full back position. Cooper moved up to midfield, but continued to lead well. Hollands was set free to be himself without having to worry about what Anderton was doing alongside him. Although Bradbury appeared, on paper, to be a lone striker, in practice he had McQuoid just behind him, as well as Molesley and Tubbs in the wide midfield positions coming forward to join him as necessary.
Somewhat against the run of play, Luton scored first through a Garry own-goal after 18 minutes. But within three minutes Molesley had equalised at the far end with a strong shot from inside the box. Six minutes into the second half, following a move initiated by McQuoid, Molesley rolled a loose ball past the keeper into an empty net, right in front of the Bournemouth fans, before coming to join us in the celebrations. But once again the lead didn’t last long; Luton levelled with a 25 yard free kick. Before the kick had even been taken, we could clearly see from our end the empty area through which the ball was going to pass unhindered en route to the goal. Yes this was a good free kick, but it should have been defended better. Bournemouth then took up the lead again, Tubbs heading in from a Bradbury cross. Cue more jubilation, and it would have been great (and totally fair) if this had proved to be the winning goal and the score had stood at 2-3. But unfortunately, five minutes from the end, Guyett conceded a penalty that was easily converted.
We continued to push for the winner. McQuoid had already been replaced by Igoe, which didn’t require a reshuffle. In extra time Symes replaced Bradbury, and Pitman replaced Molesley, both one-for-one. But the score remained 3-3.
All the talk after the game was of how much better these youngsters are, than the players who were dropped. In particular, there was a feeling that we perform better when we don’t have to organise the team around Anderton - so we hoped Anderton wouldn’t automatically get his place back the following Saturday. Since then we’ve learned that Saturday will in fact be Anderton’s last ever game before retirement - so I guess it will be onwards and upwards without him after that. It’s taken the team nearly four months to reach zero points; hopefully the next 17 will come more quickly.
The team lined up as follows at the start of the game (I've given the players marks out of ten):
Ward (7), Guyett (7), Pearce (7), Garry (6);
Molesley (9), Cooper (8), Hollands (8), Tubbs (8);