Date: 30 January 1999
My first Cherries match in over a month, and against the same opposition as the previous one!
Luton began this match with such enthusiasm and pace that Bournemouth looked like mere spectators. The first Luton goal was a cracking half-volley that gave Ovendale and the rest of the Bournemouth defence no chance; and it was only five past three! Within the next five minutes two similar goal attempts by Luton led the Bournemouth supporters - about 1000 of them crammed behind Ovendale's goal - to near despair. The first half was all Luton's, the only Bournemouth players involved were defenders, Ovendale's confidence waned visibly, and in the end it was only poor Luton finishing that prevented them sewing the game up completely.
After the game we learned from some Luton supporters that this approach - the young team wearing themselves out in the early part of the game - is in fact typical of Luton. Sure enough they couldn't keep this up for ninety minutes and we took over the driving seat in the second half; but not before Luton had increased their lead to two goals.
When we did start to play it was the hardworking Robinson who had most of the scoring chances, but failed to put them away. It was third time lucky when he scored a great goal from an O'Neill cross on the hour. Shortly afterwards, Stein was brought down outside the area and Bournemouth fans were unhappy to be "only" awarded a free kick. But Vincent's free kick was deflected into the goal mouth and the word "justice" sprang to mind. 2-2.
Thus it remained, although we pushed for the winner and Stein was caught offside three times (it's hard to believe that all three decisions were fair) when he would otherwise have broken through and almost certainly scored. The Young/Bailey partnership again looked brilliant during this half, but Bournemouth's left wing was quiet. Ovendale somewhat compensated for a poor first half, although in fairness he wasn't kept very busy. The only weak link in Bournemouth's team now was the dallying Hughes, although Fletcher was a little disappointing - always laying the ball back to the Bournemouth midfield in preference to grabbing a scoring opportunity.
There was extended time added on - perhaps 10 minutes - mainly due to an earlier injury to Howe, and at this point Luton came back into the game so much that we were relieved to hear the final whistle.
No Bournemouth substitutions were used. The team lined up as follows throughout the game (my scores out of ten):