Date: 2 October 2021
It was worth getting soaked to the skin to see Bournemouth come from behind, win this match, and move ahead at the top of the Championship table.
I was having serious doubts about my decision to attend this match whilst I was standing in the concourse in order to stay dry half an hour before kick-off. The rain outside was torrential – and had been coming down for some time. When I did eventually bite the bullet and enter the stand I could see puddles alongside the pitch, but the playing surface itself looked OK though very damp. My seat may have been of the tip-up variety but it was still absolutely soaked. As I sat in the pouring rain on a wet seat I could understand why so many supporters had stayed away and why there were empty seats all around the ground. I almost wanted the match to be called off so I could go home and dry out!
The fact that the first half was goalless (no doubt the playing conditions didn’t help the players much) made me feel even less inclined to stay. It was hard to take in much of what was happening in the game, though as in previous matches I could see Cahill organising our defence – and at least once instructing Smith to take up a completely different position from where he’d otherwise have gone. The starting line-up was identical to that of the Luton game so, following the midweek 0-0, Smith, Pearson and Anthony had all got their places back. This was good to see even if Anthony’s distribution wasn’t as good as usual today.
Early in the second half a good run from Zemura almost resulted in a goal but – after a one-two with Solanke – he ended up slamming the ball into the side netting. Then the visitors drew first blood (could things get any worse?) when the veteran Billy Sharp crossed from the right to the Wolves’ loanee Morgan Gibbs-White, a player who’d already been tipped as ‘one to watch’ in the matchday programme, who couldn’t miss at short range. Now we were trailing in a match for the first time this season.
But within ten minutes the score went from 0-1 to 2-1. First Solanke was brought down on the edge of the area and successfully buried the resultant penalty (the first penalty we’ve been awarded this season). And three minutes later Billing scored – so our two most prolific scorers this season had now each added to their tally. But from now on we desperately held on to a narrow lead, for 25 minutes plus a nervy extra six added on, which as in previous games seemed to last for ever. Former Cherry Mousset hit the bar, but otherwise we kept the Blades out. The players themselves got twitchy (Smith got into a punch-up and was yellow-carded) and Parker decided to shore up our defence by bringing on not one but two extra defenders (Mepham and Stacey). But we survived! 2-1!!
The team lined up as follows at the start of the game:
Smith, Cahill, Kelly, Zemura;
Christie, Lerma, Billing, Anthony;