Date: 23 April 2011
Let’s be clear about this. In my (humble?) opinion, the Cherries fans thoroughly deserve promotion this season - but the manager and players don’t. Let’s start with the only ‘positive’ that can be taken from this game: the supporters. Over 2100 turned up (that’s more than a third of the total crowd), and there were no seats available except for those with special needs so we stood for nearly three hours in direct sunlight and blistering heat. The stadium ran out of drinks, so everyone faced potential dehydration, but still we out-sang the home fans and gave our all. In contrast the players retreated into the tunnel to cool off before the match; did the same at half time; tossed bottles of water to one another, taking one sip before discarding them still nearly full - and worst of all threw away two points in the dying moments of the game condemning us to a long and depressing journey home.
The team was broadly the same as the previous week except that Cummings had returned for Purches, so we had a left-footer at left back again, and Arter - who’d looked so good in the second half at Notts Co - replaced Robinson (who, we later learned, was becoming a father at approximately the time this match was being played!). Well, that all seemed reasonable; but this was to be a real test. The only team we’d beaten in the previous eight games was one (Notts) that was on a record-breaking bad run at the time, so how would we fare against a team that was half decent and still mathematically threatened with relegation? Well initially the answer was, “not bad”. One Yeovil player missed an absolute sitter in the first half, and Jalal made a spectacular save just before half time, but most of the running was with Bournemouth and we were mildly satisfied that we had the upper hand as we went into the break. But we would later rue the many wasted chances.
Although Lovell is still very slow, and not reading the game well; and McDermott isn’t looking as good as he did a few weeks back; there was no good reason to make any half time substitutions. So Bradbury didn’t. The team seemed fired up after the break (even Lovell having apparently stepped up a gear) and continued to give Yeovil a difficult time. Yeovil did miss one more ‘sitter’ (so that’s one per half) - to cries of “That’s why you’re going down” - but Bournemouth made most of the running and were now attacking the goal in front of their own fans. After ten minutes the breakthrough came, but in surprising fashion. Smith was felled in the penalty area and the referee waved play on. But Yeovil’s Virgo tried to pull Smith up by his hair (I’m not sure what he was thinking - perhaps he was implying Smith had dived unnecessarily - but the action was vicious) and, as all this was taking place right under our noses, Cherries’ fans screamed out in fury. The referee hadn’t seen it, and the game had continued, but fortunately his assistant flagged and - because this incident, though off the ball, had occurred in the area - a penalty was given. Despite being only 18 years old, Ings showed no hesitation in boldly grabbing the ball. (Of course none of the penalty takers from the earlier part of the season - Pitman, Symes, Pugh - was on the field.) There seemed to be a long wait for the kick to be taken, and several supporters couldn’t bear to watch, but Ings slotted it away coolly enough. 0-1 to us; and there couldn’t have been a more deserving scorer than Ings, who’d worked his socks off throughout this match.
Not long after, Ings would score again (his fifth in as many games) and be on a hat-trick. This proved to be a more conventional goal. Jalal threw the ball to Feeney who raced down the left wing (the wingers had swapped flanks several times) and crossed to Ings. The cross was perfect, as was the shot. 0-2, and at this moment the endurance test in sweltering heat seemed all worthwhile. But then, despite Yeovil fans starting to drift away, the match turned. One minute after the second goal Pugh came on for McDermott - and was totally disappointing. He just didn’t look like a player who was desperate to get his starting place back. And as we moved through the final twenty minutes of the game there were no signs we were trying to run the clock down. We didn’t play the ball into the corners, or try and stretch Yeovil who’d been reduced to ten men since Huntingdon had been sent off for obstructing Ings. And when Fletcher and Dalla Valle came on for Lovell and Ings (who would have got a standing ovation if we hadn’t been standing already!), we hoofed the ball to Fletch all the more, rather than utilising the whole field and exploiting our one man advantage. Even so, Yeovil’s first goal, soon after this double substitution, came in a manner no-one could have anticipated; the unfortunate Arter, who’d otherwise had such a good game, put his hand to the ball in the penalty area. It was unintentional, but “rules is rules”. Virgo scored from the spot to bring the score to 1-2.
So now would we stretch the game and/or play the ball into the corners, to run the clock down for the final five minutes plus injury time? Surely we’d learned from our mistakes so many times this season when we’d conceded late goals that had turned the game? Well Bradbury says that’s what he was bawling to the players to do, but - if so - they certainly took no notice. Yeovil won a corner two minutes into stoppage time, and interestingly their goalie (Henderson) went up for it. I guess the Yeovil team had been briefed about our poor form late in games, and of course a point could be invaluable to Yeovil in their struggle to avoid relegation. The goalie didn’t get involved - but certainly did act as a decoy. The cross found a Yeovil player, MacDonald, and it was 2-2.
And that was that. Yeovil supporters whistled for the match to end but, for us, it already had. Fletch had one (very soft) shot on target right at the death, but we somehow knew he wouldn’t score because we’ve seen this all too many times before. Final score: 2-2. Cherries’ fans, who’d been making so much noise half an hour earlier, sloped away in silence. And I wondered why on earth I’d already got myself a ticket for Monday’s game, in just 48 hours’ time. One thing’s for sure; I shan’t be bothering with any more matches after that one. After this debacle, the team hasn’t earned my presence - nor anyone else’s - at the Rochdale game in two weeks. We read so much about what the team deserves, but how about the fans?
The team lined up as follows at the start of the game (I've given the players marks out of ten):