Graham Pearcey

Graham Pearcey

Cherries 0 Brentford 0

Date: 1 October 2022

As there’d been no home games at the Vitality Stadium in the entire month of September, it was good to be back today – even if the result would turn out to be the same score line as the previous home game (against Wolves): 0–0!

It was a warmer afternoon than forecast, with little evidence of the expected high winds; and the team lined up with Smith as captain. Most pundits’ predictions for the team line-up had been inaccurate in only one detail: Moore was playing, rather than Christie. Maybe Christie had returned late from international duty? Or was interim coach Gary O’Neil hoping to exploit our home advantage by playing two up front? Either way, it was interesting that the only substitution O’Neil made throughout the game was indeed Christie for Moore during the second half. (In contrast Brentford, who clearly felt this game was winnable, made a triple substitution on the hour mark, one more three minutes later, and a fifth before the end of the match!)

We started the game really poorly: Brentford had most of the possession, attacked our goal incessantly, and were awarded several corner kicks early on. But we slowly came into the game.

The biggest talking point in the first half came when Zemura was brought down just inside the penalty area. The home crowd chanted “VAR”, the referee took an absolute age looking at the screen, and then he appeared to point to the penalty spot. The home fans cheered and the Brentford crowd fell silent until it was realised that he wasn’t pointing to the penalty spot at all, but to the goal for a Brentford goal kick!

We had another penalty shout during the second half, and a third at the very end: on the 94th minute! Our team had mounted one final attack, and a Brentford player handled the ball in the area. While the crowd (and several Bournemouth players) were screaming “handball”, the referee blew the final whistle! He therefore got booed off the pitch. (In fairness, we learned later that VAR had confirmed it wasn’t a deliberate handball anyway.)

So it ended 0-0. What had looked like being an attacking game on our part, with two strikers on the pitch, had ended up being all about defence. That we’d prevented the high-scoring Ivan Toney from getting on the scoresheet was, however, something we could be proud of. Mepham in particular had blocked at least three Brentford shots that were otherwise destined to be on target, two of them from Toney, and was deservedly named the sponsors’ ‘man of the match’ – to the derision of Brentford fans, of course, because he used to play for them!

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

Smith, Mepham, Senesi, Zemura;
Tavernier, Cook, Lerma, Billing;
Moore, Solanke

By the end the line-up was:

Smith, Mepham, Senesi, Zemura;
Tavernier, Cook, Lerma, Christie;

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