Date: 11 September 2010
Well two out of three of ‘my’ teams (England and the Cherries) are performing well at the moment. Indeed evidently the Cherries are second only to Chelsea on goals scored in the last few games. So now the only team I need to do something about is my poorly performing fantasy league team, Mind The Gap!
Today began with an almost surreal incident. I fell in step with a woman wearing a Cherries replica shirt (the current one, not a few years old like mine) walking along Holdenhurst Road towards Dean Court. I said something about today’s match and she looked a bit blank and changed the subject. After chatting for a while I mentioned the match again, and again was greeted by a blank stare before she talked about something else. Eventually she asked what match I was talking about and I said I assumed that was where she was headed, as she was wearing a Cherries top. She responded, “Oh, this? No; my boyfriend works in the club shop and got it for me. I don’t go to any matches, didn’t even realise there was one on!”
Luckily the players all knew there was a match on, and gave a very good account of themselves once again. No-one had a bad game. Sure, Bradbury’s not at his best any more, but he too gave his best and played a big part in the third goal. Because Symes and Lovell are still injured, we played once again with Josh (not officially a striker at all) on his own up front. But there were three strikers on the bench - Taylor, Stockley and the returning Fletcher, whose presence raised a great cheer from the fans - so Eddie could ring the changes later if he needed to. The entire starting eleven lined up as per last week, so once again Cooper sat in front of the back four in a 4-1-4-1 system.
We didn’t start brilliantly. Maybe the fact that Dagenham had won the toss and forced us, unusually, to play towards the North Stand first, had an unsettling effect. Dagenham had two good opportunities to score early on, which could have resulted in a very different game. Josh seemed a bit isolated, and unable to hold the ball up; meanwhile, the two wingers played very wide. But Cooper was very effective in resisting any threat from Dagenham; and Robinson and Bartley were hard-working in midfield. When eventually the breakthrough came, it was against the run of play. There were ten minutes of the half remaining, and Eddie had switched the play somewhat. Pugh was playing more centrally, supporting McQuoid, while Robinson took up a position on the right wing and Feeney moved to the left. In this classic 4-4-2 formation, Wiggins got himself unusually into an outside right position, put in a cross towards goal, the ball came back to him, and this time he aimed at a crowded goalmouth. It was a scrambled goal, and it looked to us like the ball came off a defender, but it was later awarded to Pearce who was certainly not far away.
The second goal wasn’t so long in coming. Wiggins was now back on his favoured left wing, and was still running with the ball when he put in an early cross. It appeared at first to be too heavy, flying past any players in front of goal, but Josh McQuoid popped up beyond the far post and scored with a diving header. We looked comfortable in the lead now, both Robinson and Bartley had scoring opportunities in this half, and we sang to the (small number of) Dagenham fans, “You’re going down with the Scummers.”
The half-time scoreline of 2-0 was increased to 3-0 within ten minutes of the restart. The ball found Wiggins, in an advanced position to the left of goal in front of the (completely empty) temporary stand. He had time to think before slamming it into the bottom corner of the net for his first senior goal. Of course we’d had this scoreline against Notts County two weeks earlier and given the game away, but then it had taken half an hour, this time it had taken an hour; then Notts County had been playing a lot better than Dagenham were today. Eddie didn’t rush to change things but on the seventieth minute he decided he could afford to ‘rest’ McQuoid without bringing any striker off the bench. Instead, Hollands was asked to come on and play just behind Pugh up front. We held our 3-0 lead relatively comfortably, only once requiring a tremendous save from Jalal to do so. It’s hard to find any ‘negatives’ in this afternoon’s wonderful performance; maybe the only one is that after Eddie Mitchell saying crowds of around 6,000 in recent games weren’t good enough, 500 of those supporters decided to stay away, reducing the attendance figure to a paltry 5,500!
The team lined up as follows at the start of the game (I've given the players marks out of ten):