Graham Pearcey

Graham Pearcey

Cherries 1 Walsall 0

Date: 14 April 1998

It has been suggested at recent games that "having Wembley on their minds" had an adverse effect on the team's play. Well I believe it had the opposite effect tonight, with nine of the starting line-up playing one of their best games ever.

The team initially lined up as follows (my scores out of ten):

Glass (8);
Young (8), Cox (8), Howe (6), Vincent (8);
Beardsmore (8);
Bailey (9), Robinson (8), Warren (8);
Stein (6), Fletcher (8)

A classic "game of two halfs". Both teams were dead boring to watch in the first half, but I think Walsall had the edge. In the second half we were brilliant, and not just because of the substitution (see below)! Fletch demonstrated on one occasion what a long throw he has; and he also knocked in the goal, following a free-kick near the corner - even if he did say on the radio afterwards that he was in the "wrong" place according to what had been practised!

Jimmy made some tremendous saves, especially in the second half. On one occasion all our hearts missed a beat as we saw a Walsall player aim at an empty goal, and I still don't know how Jimmy got a fist to it. Brilliant! He still needs to work on his goal-kicks though!

Neil seemed to cover the whole field. And is still trying to knock in the long-shots. Maybe Sunday? (Pity he got another yellow card in the first half, by the way.)

Ian had a much better game than of late. I was particularly impressed by his ability to dispossess Walsall players.

I've named John as my man-of-the-match. He worked very hard. And his corner kicks are much better than Jamie's.

Give that Eddie is fighting for a place on Sunday if Franck is fit, I was surprised that he had an indifferent game. I was not, however, surprised that Mark did - yet again!

At half-time Brissett came on for Stein and then had a great half. It was a shame that on one occasion his selfish attempt to score from an acute angle on the left deprived Bailey of a sitter. When a similar situation occurred shortly afterwards he passed to Robinson who fluffed the shot. Ah well!

With about fifteen minutes to go, O'Neill came on for Warren on the left, but didn't play as well as Warren. On the 88th or 89th minute, Dean came on for Bailey (Beardsmore switching onto the right), but played appallingly.

Final score: 1-0 to us.

On the strength of this game, if everyone is fit, the Wembley starting line-up should be (IMHO) Glass, Young, Vincent, Rolling, Cox, Bailey, Beardsmore, Robinson, Warren, Fletcher, Brissett; and the five subs should be Howe, Wells, Rawlinson, O'Neill, Harrington. But who ever listens to me?

Man of the match : Bailey.

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