Date: 11 August 2009
Well it’s going to be a long season at this rate. Nice to be back with the lads, sharing a drink before the game; and nice to be able to sit out till 9:30 PM in a replica shirt without feeling cold. But to watch our team being so out-classed was, to say the least, disheartening.
It’s obvious what everyone, from the manager down, will say. That league is more important than cup (but that’s not what Eddie told the matchday programme editor!), and that Millwall are almost three divisions above us because they ended last season knocking on the door of the Championship while we narrowly avoided the Conference. But none of this excuses a static performance - particularly from our defence; especially as Millwall evidently fielded several reserve players, and their home support was frankly pathetic (the total crowd only being in the 3000s whereas they’d taken more than 2200 supporters away to Southampton just three days earlier).
We kicked off with two changes from the preceding Saturday. Garry’s “dead leg” (whatever one of them is) had evidently recovered, so the older Guyett was unceremoniously dumped. (Guyett deserves to get his place back on Saturday.) Fletch is theoretically no longer capable of 180 minutes’ play in four days, so his place went to Goulding. In the early stages, although Millwall dominated, Jalal was in fine form, made some great saves and looked destined for an early man-of-the-match award. On the half hour mark he managed to smother a shot from Millwall’s Hackett but unfortunately the ball rolled loose and Alexander took advantage with a follow-up shot that made the score-line 1-0. Cherries’ confidence took a nosedive and the veteran Neil Harris (nicknamed “Bomber” by the matchday announcer) scored Millwall’s second while our defence simply stood and watched him. It was especially astounding that Harris would go on to score a hat-trick, given that he probably isn’t even a first XI player anymore.
Before this, however, Molesley had the opportunity to reduce the deficit to 2-1 at the far end of the ground, just seconds after Harris’ first goal. But he shot high. Who knows how the game might have turned if that one had gone in? In the event, though, Bournemouth would only have one more reasonable attempt at goal all game: midway through the second half, immediately below the away fans’ stand, a clever corner kick routine that had clearly been practised in advance but just failed to come off. It involved one player stepping over the ball so that it reached Igoe, whose shot unfortunately went narrowly wide.
The second half had begun with a significant change. Fletcher came on for Goulding, but initially played up front on his own as a target man, attempting to hold the ball up. Pitman moved into the left wing midfield position, and Robinson just in front of the back four, in a kind of 4-1-4-1 system. But not for long; when Marvin Bartley came on to great cheers from the Cherries’ supporters, and Molesley was sacrificed, we switched back to 4-4-2; and late in the game McQuoid came on to become the fifth player to occupy the wide left berth (Igoe, Robinson, Molesley, Pitman, McQuoid) in a single game - with every one of them doing their best but each of them looking somewhat out of place there. Which is probably the moment to comment that no-one had a bad game (and no-one an exceptionally good game) throughout the Bournemouth squad; but our best just didn’t seem to be good enough.
To complete the ‘vital statistics’, Harris’ second goal, and Millwall’s third, was a good team effort. But Harris’ third and last was a brilliant individual goal, a long shot volley into the net from a tight angle, that even got the Bournemouth fans clapping in appreciation. Full time: 4-0.
The team lined up as follows at the start of the game (I've given the players marks out of ten):
Bradbury (5), Garry (5), Pearce (6), Cummings (6);
Feeney (7), Molesley (6), Robinson (6), Igoe (8);
Pitman (7), Goulding (6).