Date: 1 October 2016
This was a thrilling match to watch – especially for neutrals but, to be honest, for everyone else too.
I was a little concerned to find myself in row ‘CC’ – which turned out to be the second from the front (only ‘BB’ is ahead of it) – with no roof overhead, especially as the sky was grey and rain threatened. But I needn’t have worried; the rain didn’t arrive until added time at the end of the second half.
The team was the same one that beat Everton a week ago, not surprisingly; which meant that Josh King had to be content with a place on the bench (in lieu of Mousset). The system was 4-2-3-1, Wilshere in the centre of the three flanked by Stanislas and Ibe who’d swapped flanks. Both teams played their part in making this a thrilling match. Boruc pulled off some wonderful saves in the first half – including two in quick succession – right in front of the away fans. But the only goal of the half was a header from Wilson (following a Stanislas cross from Bournemouth’s right) that was hard for us to see from a distance, resulting in delayed – but then excitable – celebrations from our fans. So at half time we were 1-0 up, and Wilson – whose game is almost back to his best again now – thoroughly deserved to be the goal-scorer.
Deeney scored early in the second half, again a long way from where we were sitting. (And I do mean “sitting” for once – an advantage of being in row CC!) But we could see that it was a blasted goal, which gave Boruc no chance, and that again the build-up had been from the right flank. Soon after, Wilshere hit the post, but Eddie was determined that this match was winnable so he wasn’t content with 1-1. King came on at around the hour mark, taking up Stanislas’ position on the right (Stanislas reverting to his usual left-wing position while Ibe went off), and had an almost instant effect from a position that seemed to suit him. He obtained the ball on the right, beat several opposition players in challenges, and then blasted the ball into the net from 25 yards. OK it took a slight deflection off a Watford player, that helped it towards its target, but this was still a brilliant shot! So it was unfortunate that within three minutes Watford had pegged it back again with a goal from Success – a soft goal, to be honest, off a poorly defended free kick. (Both teams’ second goals had now been scored by a substitute.)
Watford and the Cherries both now upped their game, neither being satisfied with a draw, and it was a breath-taking end to the match. Wilshere hit the post again – just before being replaced by Gosling – and close to the death Stanislas, from an excellently executed free kick that went up and over the Watford wall, tragically hit the cross bar.
While both teams wanted to win, I don’t suppose anyone can say the final score of 2-2 was unfair. It leaves us in a healthy league position (12th). And following the final whistle, as we tried to fight our way at least under the stand roof if not out of the ground, a very interesting sight: Deeney, the Watford captain, made a point of coming to our fans and applauding us. Nice gesture.
The team lined up as follows at the start of the game (I've given the players marks out of ten):
A Smith (7), Francis (7), S Cook (7), Daniels (6);
Surman (7), Arter (8);
Stanislas (8), Wilshere (8), Ibe (6);
C Wilson (8)
A Smith, Francis, S Cook, Daniels;
King, Gosling, Stanislas;