Date: 4 February 2023
Another one of those days (and there’ve been many recently) that leave you seriously wondering why you ever decided to support Bournemouth, let alone attend their matches.
My train from Clapham Junction was seriously delayed from the start because of a points failure at Victoria. It then stopped for ages when news came through of another points or signal failure at Lewes, and was eventually diverted into Brighton centre. Then good news (of sorts): the train I was already on would stop at Falmer so I wouldn’t need to change trains. But I was still running way behind my planned schedule of course. And then I was stopped at the entrance to the ‘away’ stand at the ground, because my backpack was bigger than A4 size! So I’d have to join a queue to deposit it (and a longer queue to retrieve it after the game) – and be charged £5 for the privilege, which is presumably their reason for having this rule in the first place!
Then we saw the team. Christie and Moore, who’d been so poor in my last match, had been replaced by two of the six new players we’d bought in the transfer window: Traore and Semenyo. Ouattara was starting again (but we’d met him already) and Vina would come on late as a substitute. But, confusingly, Traore who’d been billed as a midfielder played up front, while Vina who’d been billed as a left back played wide in midfield. The new players looked good and lively, to be fair, but it soon became obvious that they’ve already slipped into the Bournemouth pattern of doing everything but score.
Neto was named as captain (surprisingly, given that Smith was also in the starting eleven) and he had arguably his best game ever – saving, parrying or blocking every Brighton shot bar one. And even that one he got a hand to.
Brighton dominated, in fairness, but Lerma had a good shot that was only just wide of the target during the first half, while Semenyo had a shot blocked in the second. Just before that, many Brighton fans thought they’d scored when one of their own shots hit the side netting.
We made three substitutions in the second half, all like for like: Christie for Traore (not a popular decision with the crowd), Rothwell for Billing and Vina for Anthony. But of course the inevitable happened: a Brighton header in the 87th minute was pushed away by Neto but had already crossed the line. 1-0. So we left the ground a few minutes later totally disillusioned once again. We may have spent a lot of money in the transfer window but nothing’s really changed and we’re – surely – going down at the end of the season?
The team lined up as follows at the start of the game:
Smith, Mepham, Senesi, Zemura;
Ouattara, Lerma, Billing, Anthony;