Date: 28 December 2008
Boos predictably, and deservedly, greeted the players - and, more especially, the management duo - at the end of this inept performance. And there were no excuses, because our victors were truly dreadful. And Barnet’s goalie was hardly ever on his line, so the chances were there for the taking. The afternoon was summed up by Barnet fans who sang, “We’re sh*t, and we’re 2-0 up!” Or, on the pitch, the afternoon was summed up by one of the last actions of Marvin Bartley, who had often throughout the afternoon appeared not to be concentrating at all, and who - whenever Bournemouth won a corner kick - seemed unsure whether to go forward or hang back, and as often as not ended up doing neither. Anyway, right at the end of the game, having won a throw-in, Bartley hesitated for ages trying to decide which Bournemouth player to throw to, and eventually decided to throw it to a Barnet player! This capped a nightmare of a game for him.
Quinn celebrated the fact that he had an almost fully fit squad, by shuffling the pack yet again. Out went the youngsters who’d performed so well just eight days earlier - Partington and Preston. Out, also, went one of our highest scorers: Bradbury. And other players found themselves in unfamiliar positions; notably the excellent right-winger Molesley who was today asked to play on the left flank.
Bournemouth started the first half brightly enough - with two very early corners - and then effectively went to sleep. We dominated the match, but there was no bite. Against the run of play, midway through the half, Barnet’s Adomah suddenly surged towards the North Stand, beat two defenders and slammed the ball into the corner of the net. 0-1. We didn’t really respond to this, our only reasonable shot being one from Hollands just before half time, which chipped the crossbar.
We began the second half with no less than three early corners! Needless to say, nothing came of them. And then we reverted pretty much to the pattern of the first half. On about the hour mark, Molesley appeared to take it upon himself to switch to his preferred (right) flank, swapping with Igoe. Immediately both players’ games improved; Bournemouth had their best period of the match; and for five minutes we seriously threatened Barnet’s goal, mainly via the right flank. Quinn’s immediate response to this was to withdraw the excellent Molesley completely (we applauded the player but not the decision), move Igoe back to the right, send Tubbs out onto the left wing, and introduce Bradbury up front. At the same time he brought on Cummings for Garry, which was basically one left back for another except that Garry is playing better than Cummings at present. And thus the game ambled on for another five minutes or so before Barnet scored their second goal - again against the run of play. Bartley hesitated too long on one particular ball; Adomah (again) dispossessed him, ran past several players and lobbed the ball towards the goal. Despite standing on the goal line at the time, Pearce somehow failed to prevent it going in. 0-2. Our game continued to deteriorate until the final whistle and the chorus of boos I mentioned earlier.
So, what went wrong? It’s all very well Quinn blaming the fans, but we’d reacted well to the team only eight days previously and cheered them all the way to victory then. I’ve already referred to today’s replacement of Partington and Preston with more experienced but apparently less enthusiastic players. I’ve also referred to Molesley being on the wrong flank and Igoe probably preferring not to be on a flank at all. Jalal had a quiet game, as apart from the two goals Barnet hardly threatened. Maybe this is why none of our defenders seemed ready to deal with the counter-attacks when they came, though Pearce was the best of a poor bunch and gets my (and the sponsors’) 'man of the match'. Cooper had a busy game. Connell was lively up front, but allowed himself to be caught offside far too often. But our biggest problem was central midfield. Whenever Hollands or Bartley got the ball they passed it not forwards, nor even square, but back to a defender. It’s unlikely that a midfield duo of Partington and Igoe (which would be my selection) would have done this.
What we most missed from eight days previously was the sight of Roach on the touchline urging his young protégés on. This time Pryce, Partington and Preston were all relegated to the bench; McQuoid didn’t even make the squad; Pitman was (deservedly) suspended; and Tubbs - a protégé from the past - had a very quiet game and was hardly involved at all, which may not be entirely his fault. (What had happened to the Tubbs who played with such passion at Luton?) So there was no-one for Roach to encourage; while encouragement doesn’t appear to be Quinn’s forte, because he simply sat gloomily on the bench showing little reaction to anything that was happening around him. Meanwhile we were left to trudge home and read the matchday programme, which informed us that Bournemouth have gone 22 games since back-to-back defeats. Not any more, they haven’t.
The team lined up as follows at the start of the game (I've given the players marks out of ten):