Date: 1 December 2009
An impressive 675 Bournemouth fans (approximately a third of the total attendance) assembled at Underhill on a bitterly cold - but thankfully dry - evening to cheer on their team. The way that we were compacted into one corner of the ground under a low roof - with the home fans thinly spread around the remaining sides, reminiscent of Millwall in August - made us look and sound the mightier army. One web report spoke of “suited exiles” coming from work in London; well, none of the official Exiles (capital ‘E’) had a suit on, and the noise generated didn’t sound like the work of City types. If only, as I’ve said many times before, the volume of support (in both senses of the word) could determine the result directly, we’d have walked away with the three points.
In the event, though, 1-1 was fair. Barnet dominated the first half and could have scored four or five. Whether it was the substitution of Fletcher for Connell, Eddie’s half time talk, or simply the slope of the ground, I don’t know; but we played much better in the second half. Ironically, though, our one goal came against the run of play before the break.
The team lined up exactly as at Chesterfield. In other words, Jalal made a welcome return (showing no signs of injury at all) and Hollands (who played well) returned for Bartley (who, no doubt, would have played equally well given the chance). Thomas and Bartley were relegated to the bench, where they were the unused subs along with Partington and Goulding. Pearce was the best player in the back four, though both full backs showed (all too infrequent) flashes of brilliance and did, in fairness, link well with the wingers in front of them. Igoe began on the left and Feeney on the right, but they swapped after only ten minutes of the first half and remained that way for the next eighty until McQuoid replaced Feeney - remaining on the left. Feeney and Connell had quieter games than of late, though both played a part in the all-important Bournemouth goal. Fletcher, after replacing Connell, was really no more involved than Connell had been hitherto.
Although no doubt the talking point for anyone following the match from a distance - via Ceefax or the web - will have been the missed penalty, for those who were there it was the Barnet goal. Garry lay on the ground at the time, suffering from a possible head injury, with Bournemouth players urging the referee to stop the game and let the trainer on. Meanwhile, a Barnet shot appeared to have been saved off the line by Jalal, but was ruled to have crossed it first. We were only aware the goal had been given when the ball was returned to the centre circle. Garry received treatment for several minutes, and during this time there were no cheers from the Barnet fans nor any announcement about details of the scorer. When, eventually, the game re-started, the matchday announcer finally confirmed the scorer and timing of the goal. This was greeted with virtual silence by the home fans, but chants of “1-0 to the referee!” from the visitors.
Barnet continued to dominate until - out of the blue - Feeney tore down the left wing and crossed powerfully in Connell’s direction. Connell looked sufficient of a threat for Barnet defenders to panic and lob the ball away - to Pitman, who had stayed deep and shot home powerfully from distance. 1-1. Cue much jumping up and down from Cherries supporters, if only to get warm!
After the break, despite domination, and Bradbury’s excellent shot from distance that was tipped over the bar, the score remained 1-1 until Pitman was brought down by the Barnet keeper. He took the penalty himself. With hindsight it’s easy to suggest he should have shot low into the corner of the net, but he chose to shoot slightly to the right of the keeper, who saved excellently. I can’t think of anyone in our squad who would have had a better chance of scoring from the spot, so I simply hope that two penalty misses in a row won’t dent Pitman’s confidence. For the rest of the match, as he continued to press forward, there was certainly no evidence that it had done any such thing. If he had scored, the result would have been a little unfair on Barnet. Other results on the night mean that we remain comfortably ahead of Rotherham, Dagenham and Notts. Co. We were simply overtaken by Rochdale which, after their glittering display at Dean Court a few weeks back, is scarcely surprising.
The team lined up as follows at the start of the game (I've given the players marks out of ten):