Graham Pearcey

Graham Pearcey

Cherries 1 Fulham 1

Date: 23 April 2022

Despite a lot of hostility between the two sets of fans throughout this match, I imagine both groups left happy at the end.

Parker only made one change from our starting line-up at Coventry: Billing in for Lowe. None of the fans seemed to agree with this before the game, and for once the fans were proved right because Billing had a dreadful first half – and was predictably replaced by Lowe at the break. Another player for whom everything went wrong, after he came on, was Cantwell. But to offset that I should say more positively that Lewis Cook had a brilliant game, and was surely our ‘man of the match’, with Phillips not far behind?

Former Bournemouth player Harry Wilson charged forward and almost scored within seconds of the start of this match – a warning of what was to come – before getting a shot in not long afterwards, which was fortunately pushed away by Travers. At half time, with the score at 0-0, this was not looking like the thrilling 2nd-versus-1st match everyone had been anticipating. We were certainly not playing at our best, with a lot of uncharacteristic back-passing – especially from Anthony. Fulham fans sang, “Pass it back, pass it back, Scottie Parker ... playing football the Parker way!”

It was the chanting of the crowds that kept us entertained though the duller parts of this game, and when the Fulham fans suggested that Harry Wilson had left us “because you’re sh*t” those in the Ted MacDougall Stand retorted that Parker had left them because they are sh*t! Anyway, the game eventually got going when a cross from Wilson was diverted towards goal by Mitrovic and Travers appeared to save it. Indeed, we were applauding the save, and the Fulham players were looking deflated, when the referee suddenly announced that the ball had crossed the line before Travers had reached it – so, somewhat belatedly, Fulham’s players wheeled around and ran to their supporters to celebrate what was now a one goal lead.

As the second half rolled on Fulham tried a number of delaying tactics to retain their slender lead – including playing the ball into the corner a lot, and taking a long time over free kicks. It must be admitted, though, that they also had a few opportunities to increase their lead. But when five minutes’ added time was announced it seemed unlikely that the final score would be anything other than 0-1 (unless it was 0-2!).

And then Harry Wilson fouled Adam Smith in the area, and a penalty was awarded. It seemed to be ages before the referee allowed Solanke to take it, so it required a lot of coolness on Solanke’s part to endure the long wait. But when the time came Solanke skipped around a bit to confuse the Fulham keeper, and then directed the ball low into the bottom left corner of the net. The crowd went mad – one fan even running onto the pitch – and this proved to be the last kick of the game so we all left with smiles on our faces. And as we left we gave an extra cheer to Parker to counteract the abuse he’d been receiving from Fulham fans all afternoon!

The team lined up as follows at the start of the game:

Laird, Phillips, Kelly, Smith;
Christie, Billing, Lerma, Anthony;

By the end the line-up was:

Laird, Phillips, Kelly, Smith;
Christie, Cook, Cantwell, Dembele;
Lowe, Solanke

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