Date: 5 December 2015
Eddie hailed this as the best ever result in Cherries’ club history. He has a point!
In the week leading up to this game, Chelsea put in a planning request for a new stadium. It’s much needed! Though the inside is fine with the stands being covered and the pitch in good condition, outside it’s a nightmare. No clear signage; stewards who send you in different directions; one narrow staircase that hundreds of fans are trying to climb at the same time; and total congestion in the toilets and the bar area. I dread to think how they’d cope with a mass evacuation.
There were some surprises in our team line-up. We thought we had twelve injuries (two loan players plus ten of our own) but in the event three of those – Boruc, Cook and Arter – were well enough to start. And indeed to play the full ninety minutes! The Cherries dominated the first half, confidently out-playing and out-pacing Chelsea. We had a number of chances to score; our midfield trio worked together really well; and Boruc was magnificent in defence today. Half-time: 0-0.
As if to remind us of the difference between the clubs on paper, Costa was a half-time substitute for Chelsea. And Chelsea were far and away the better team in the second half, but couldn’t make their advantages count. Again and again one of their players would put the perfect cross into the penalty area and there’d be no-one to receive it. Even on corner kicks, they’d be sending the ball into the box but the only person there would be Boruc, who’d gratefully catch it and reflect on how easy a save that had been. (Amazing to hear Bournemouth fans informing Chelsea fans, “that’s why you’re going down”!) With Chelsea dominating, Bournemouth’s only real chances were on the break – and our problem was a different one. Once or twice King would run like lightning with the ball from one end of the pitch to the other, but there’d be no-one to cross to, because no other player could keep up with his pace.
King worked really hard in this game, but went down with slight knocks more than once in both the first and the second halves. And on the 80th minute, when we still hadn’t made a single substitution, he went down with cramp – and Eddie acted. He was replaced by Murray (our only substitution of the game, as it would turn out). One would like to report that this was a clever tactical substitution by Eddie but it would be truer to say it was forced on him by injury. Nonetheless it produced a fairy-tale outcome when, within two minutes, Gosling won us a corner – right in front of the away fans who had been outsinging the home fans for the entire game. (I learned later that the TV commentator remarked at this point that the Cherries’ supporters would go mental if we scored from this.) Stanislas directed the ball into the box, but the Chelsea keeper failed to extinguish the threat and the rebound found Cook. He in turn directed the ball to the far post where both Daniels and Murray were in attendance, the latter (still within two minutes of coming on, remember) heading it into goal. 0-1!
Could we hold on? How long would the final eight plus four minutes seem? Well, in practice, the two best scoring opportunities in this time also fell to us. We could actually have increased our lead. Ritchie was, at one point, one on one with the keeper – who was off his line – but shot wide. Then Arter (who, earlier, had been lucky not to receive a yellow card when he fouled Pedro) had a shot that was deflected. And eventually time was up. We’d won in the Premier League at Chelsea. Those Chelsea fans that hadn’t already left did so now. We remained, and sang, “Jingle bells – oh what fun it is to see Bournemouth win away”, “We’ve come from league 2” and most of all “We’ve got the special one.” A day those Cherries’ fans present will never forget.
The team lined up as follows at the start of the game (I've given the players marks out of ten):
Smith (7), Francis (7), Cook (8), Daniels (9);
Ritchie (7), Arter (8), Surman (6), Gosling (8), Stanislas (6);