Date: 13 May 2018
The season ended on a ‘high’ for Cherries’ fans as we yet again repeated our trick of scoring, and gaining points, very late in a game.
This was a good day out. The weather was much, much warmer than I’d anticipated as I’d left the breezy Fylde coast earlier in the morning. The inevitable pie, peas and gravy had tasted very nice in the Exiles-nominated pub, but I arrived at the ground to encounter a more thorough than usual bag-search – carried out by a no less pleasant and conversational steward. So I asked what he was searching for, and he replied, “Only one thing – inflatables.” He then pointed with pride to a bag containing dozens of inflatables already confiscated. So I had to laugh half an hour later, when our team ran onto the pitch and hundreds of inflatables, all presumably missed by the stewards, ascended into the air over the away stand!
The team running onto the pitch didn’t include Francis nor Lewis Cook – while Wilson and Defoe were both on the bench. Nonetheless it wasn’t a bad line-up, 5-4-1 with King leading the line, and we cheered. But it was hard to compete with the ecstatic home crowd and their endless singing of “We’re all going on a European tour” (to the tune of “Yellow Submarine”). This same slogan had also been evident on T-shirts all around the town at lunchtime. The home fans also confused us briefly by replacing the usual chant of “You’re just a small town in…” with “We’re just a small town in … Europe.” After all this build-up, I must say the first half of the match wasn’t great. We seemed unable to keep possession even when we did get the ball, because our passing was poor in all departments. Our best chances of the half were probably Mousset’s shot on 20 minutes (saved) and Daniels’ on 25 (blocked). And on 39 minutes, right in front of us (all three goals of the match would be scored at our end) a Burnley shot that otherwise would have missed was deflected into the goal. I feared at first that one of our players might have deflected it for an own goal, but fortunately that wasn’t the case. Nonetheless this meant the score was 1-0 to the home side at half time.
There were no substitutions at the start of the second half, which was much like the end of the first, but before the hour was up Eddie had seen enough. So he made a double substitution. Gosling replaced Hyndman, Wilson replaced King up front, and King moved to the left wing. But the system was unchanged. Two minutes later Vokes came on for Burnley and I was delighted to see that almost every Bournemouth fan stood and applauded him, a nice gesture given that we were at this time all feeling a bit deflated about our own performance – not to mention the score line! Steve Cook then appeared to be injured, and was on the ground for three minutes or more; but as soon as all the players had got their much needed water intake he sprang back to his feet! A subsequent injury to Mings, off the ball, seemed more serious (“Oh no,” we thought, “not again!”); and he had to be substituted. But not with a defender. Defoe came on, and the system was changed to 4-4-2.
With only fifteen or so minutes left of the ninety, King scored from close range. Amazing! A score draw would be a fair result, and would certainly spoil Burnley’s party! Even we didn’t expect another Cherries’ goal – not even when four minutes of time was added after the ninety. But deep into injury time Defoe charged towards the goal, with the ball, and was surely going to attempt a shot? No, he unselfishly squared the ball to Wilson who made it 2-1 with only seconds left on the clock. The excitement at our end was unequalled.
The Burnley players ran off at the final whistle to prepare for a lap of honour that we didn’t remain for. But first our players came over to applaud the fans – and vice versa. It was good to see Mings looking fully fit as he ran over to us; so his substitution had evidently only been a precaution. Virtually every player threw their shirt into the crowd, and we all left happily. And I do mean “all”: the large numbers of police sitting on horseback in the street and in the town had nothing to do– because both sets of fans had something to celebrate, and the sun was still shining!
The team lined up as follows at the start of the game (I've given the players marks out of ten):
Fraser (7), S Cook (7), Ake (9), Mings (8), Daniels (5);
Ibe (7), Hyndman (6), Surman (7), Mousset (6);
Fraser, S Cook, Ake, Daniels;
Ibe, Gosling, Surman, King;