Date: 15 August 2009
There was much to commend about this hard-fought 1-0 victory against a fancied (and evidently wealthy) League 2 club. But what a nail-biter. Forty-five minutes defending a 1-0 lead isn’t good for anyone with a weak heart! If only one or two more Bournemouth goal attempts had been successful, we could all have relaxed and enjoyed the match.
It was good to be back at Dean Court for the first time this season. The stadium is starting to look a little sorry for itself; there are no sponsors for the main or north stands; and the scoreboard isn’t working. But on the plus side the pitch is in great condition; the disabled area in the east stand is in use at last (so I guess the lift is now operating); and the matchday magazine’s design has been improved - especially in the area of team statistics.
The pre-match ‘entertainment’ included a choreographed ‘dance’ routine by the referee and two linesmen. Given that they presumably don’t work together every week, their movement was impressive! (No sign of the fourth official at this juncture though.)
The match proper kicked off with Bournemouth fielding the same eleven that began the second half at Millwall - i.e. with Fletcher for Goulding. But the system was 4-4-2 not 4-5-1, with Pitman playing up front and Igoe evidently having been instructed to stick more rigidly to his allotted position wide on the left of midfield. This may not be his preferred position, but it is enabling him to build up a relationship with Cummings on that wing. I’d felt sorry for Cummings on Tuesday, having to work with five different left wing ‘partners’ in the course of the ninety minutes. But Cummings’ own game is improving now, and he’s almost back to his best pace, reminding us that he’s still under 30. Bradbury worked an excellent overlapping game with Feeney on the opposite wing, Feeney working hard and showing great skill once again. But it was ironic that, while Feeney was responsible for the majority of the top-class crosses, it would be a Bradbury cross that would lead to the game’s only goal. (Of which, more in a moment.) Completing the midfield were Robinson and Molesley, who are also developing an excellent working relationship. Robinson tends to play the holding role, which had been most noticeable when we went 4-1-4-1 at Millwall; while Molesley gets forward into the box at every opportunity. One wonders how Hollands will be accommodated in the side when he returns. It was in midfield that we won today's match, and it’s noteworthy that three of our four midfielders came to Bournemouth directly from non-league clubs.
We dominated play during the first half, enjoying plenty of possession and giving Jalal little to do. But when he was called into play, he was thorough and efficient - though his distribution still needs a little attention. We had goal scoring opportunities in this half from Igoe, Robinson (his left foot shot went straight to the keeper), Molesley and Pitman - the latter two being almost identical: both headed the ball wide of the goal off a Feeney cross. Towards the end of the half, there was a prolonged stoppage whilst Garry lay on the floor needing treatment; this would account for the entire three minutes that would be added to the half. But intriguingly it was after that that Bradbury rescued a ball that appeared almost certain to cross the by-line and go out of play. He executed a killer cross from a tight angle - which the apparently recovered Garry got a head to, and scored from. This was his first senior league goal, but it would later transpire that he was still concussed when he scored it - and he subsequently couldn’t even remember scoring!
Guyett replaced Garry at half-time. But he’d already played ninety minutes in this position one week earlier without conceding any goals, so wasn’t fazed by it. The Millers seemed to think they could exploit our defensive ‘weakness’, but they were proved wrong. They even tried bringing on their expensive signing, Le Fondre, and playing three up - but Robinson simply sat a little deeper, helping out Pearce and Guyett, and the threat was contained. And so, the second half agonisingly proceeded: although we knew we deserved the win, we were equally aware that a single Rotherham goal on the break had the potential to ruin everything. And then the fourth official raised the board to indicate five minutes’ time to be added on. We weathered the storm, brought on McQuoid in the ninety-sixth minute without him getting a single touch of the ball, but survived to win 1-0 and remain at second place in the league table.
The team lined up as follows at the start of the game (I've given the players marks out of ten):
Bradbury (8), Garry (7), Pearce (7), Cummings (8);
Feeney (9), Robinson (8), Molesley (8), Igoe (7);
Pitman (7), Fletcher (6).