Date: 5 November 2011
I’ve seen three home games to date since August: two wins and a draw. That’s not bad, given that those are in fact the only two home league wins the Cherries have recorded this season! This one was well deserved in the end, though I confess that at half time I was predicting a 1-2 reverse.
The afternoon began unseasonably warm - and I’m sure Scunthorpe fans will have been impressed by the southern weather! But most of us had scarves and hats ready for the second half, knowing that when the sun set below the main stand the temperature would fall dramatically - as indeed it did. This occurred just before half time and so, once again, despite starting in bright sunshine the floodlights were switched on from kick-off.
The team lined up exactly as it had started the previous week, i.e. 4-5-1 with a recovered Purches rather than Gregory in central midfield. Gregory, in fact, didn’t even make the bench (neither did Fletcher) and a pleasant surprise was that Molesley was back, just as everyone was starting to forget him. Cook kept his place in defence, despite Zubar’s return from suspension, and in fact Zubar ended up being the only unused outfield sub.
The game started in a lively manner, Thomas and a Scunthorpe forward both having scoring opportunities in the first minute or so (Thomas headed his wide). Then everything settled down a bit. But Bournemouth seemed nervous. The (risky) game plan seemed to be to ‘allow’ our opponents to dominate, and rely on the break (just as we do away from home). As a result by the twentieth minute - when Malone opened the scoring at the ‘open’ end of the stadium - it was very much against the run of play. But what a clever goal it was! Fed by Fogden, Malone surged forward with Cummings unmarked to his left. As several Scunthorpe players closed in on him, I’m sure players on both sides - and certainly the fans - expected the pass sooner or later. But instead he sidestepped Scunthorpe’s Duffy and put in the shot himself. Two goals in two games for him, and he would later be named as both the officials’ and the fans’ Man of the Match (not often they agree). The scoreboard bizarrely attributed this first goal initially to Zubar - who was on the bench - before correcting itself (equally bizarrely it would later continue to ask for nominations for Man of the Match after the winner had been announced). Scunthorpe dominated proceedings for the rest of the first half, and when three minutes’ extra time was added, they looked the more likely to score. Indeed they did have one excellent shooting opportunity, but their player kicked the ball to row Z of the North Stand. Cherries’ fans breathed a sigh of relief as the half ended with a 1-0 advantage.
Scunthorpe were even more fired up for the early part of the second half, but again their finishing let them down - with two or more shots sailing over the crossbar and into the car park. Yet gradually Bournemouth got into the game. Fogden was the major difference between this match and the last one I saw here; he was our busiest player by far, popping up all over the pitch but often confusing the opposition’s defence by slotting in just behind Thomas. Barrett also covered a lot of ground, getting forward for most free kicks wherever they were being taken. The second goal - in the 73rd minute - started with Pugh, who fed Thomas, who charged ahead at speed and beat Duffy (him again!) to slam a belter into the net. It brought Thomas level on goals with Pugh, so there’s no stopping him now. And it couldn’t have been more different from the ‘gentle’ penalty Symes scored at my last home match. Speaking of whom, Symes came on with Sheringham (for Thomas and Fogden - who both got great applause from the fans) for the last few minutes. Apart from anything else, Thomas can’t play Tuesday as he’s cup-tied, so some match practice is needed by other strikers. We moved to 4-4-2 now, Symes to the left of the forward line and Sheringham to the right. And in the closing moments of the match, despite one Scunthorpe shot going into the side netting, we looked the more likely team to score - which couldn’t have been more different from the end of the first period. Almost at the death, Molesley was brought on for Purches, as much to wind the clock down as anything else.
It was a shame that only 5,400-odd saw this game. But this one win puts us up to 16th in the league table, and hopefully the crowds will improve with the league position.
The team lined up as follows at the start of the game (I've given the players marks out of ten):
Peters (8), Cook (7), Barrett (8), Cummings (8);
Pugh (7), Purches (8), Arter (7), Malone (8);