Date: 27 December 2021
Bournemouth’s first win since the match against Swansea nearly two months ago was very welcome of course, but the game proved to be another ‘heartstopper’ for fans as we desperately held onto a one goal lead for the entire second half.
Given the current number of Covid cases in London, the unreliability of bank holiday train services, and the fact that for the first time I’d need to show a Covid pass to get into a stadium, I’d felt nervous about making the trip to the game at all. I needn’t have worried: the trains ran on time, I found the stadium easily (the gates hadn’t even opened when I arrived!), the pass check took only seconds, and I found that my seat offered a brilliant view from the top row of the stand.
The team was largely as expected although Stanislas was starting for Anthony (not a bad decision given Anthony’s recent poor run, not to mention the fact that there are two matches coming up in quick succession) and we seemed to be missing three centre backs (Steve Cook, Kelly and Ibsen Rossi). I hope they’re not all about to leave in the January transfer window! Cahill was our captain. As the game progressed, Stacey and Mepham both seemed to pass the ball backwards too much for my liking, but not everyone agreed.
Apparently there were about 3000 Bournemouth supporters in the stands. They certainly sang well – and all clapped and chanted David Brooks’ name in the seventh minute once again. On the half hour mark they nearly had a lot more to clap about when a short Billing pass found Solanke’s head but he headed over the bar. Thankfully Solanke atoned for this miss in the 42nd minute when he met a long pass from Bournemouth’s left and headed the ball into the corner of the net. This was a tougher shot than the previous one but it went in, and that’s all that matters. And it meant that we went into the break 1-0 up.
The first half had been fairly evenly balanced, unsurprisingly given that QPR are part of the chasing pack just behind us in the league table, but that can’t be said for the second half in which – playing towards their own supporters – the away team totally dominated. We had chance after chance, but lacked the final finish. Anthony came on in a straight swap for Stanislas on the hour mark and had a golden opportunity to score when he met a Stacey pass just three minutes later. How on earth he managed to shoot wide from such a close range is a mystery. Later on, Lowe came on for Christie, in another straight swap; and towards the end, Pearson replaced Lewis Cook. So we now had two holding central midfielders and only one attacking one. We never stopped trying to score that all-important second goal though.
There was a sigh from Cherries’ fans when five minutes of added time were announced. And there was a bit of a punch-up late on involving players from both sides, which resulted in several yellow cards being handed out as well as a red for one QPR player. But we held on; there was prolonged singing and cheering from Bournemouth fans at the end, while home supporters departed more quickly. The journey home wasn’t as perfect as the outward journey earlier, partly because it was now raining quite heavily, but the thought that we were (however temporarily) top of the league again made the journey enjoyable nonetheless.
The team lined up as follows at the start of the game:
Stacey, Mepham, Cahill, Zemura;
Christie, L Cook, Billing, Stanislas;