Although this is one of the closest away trips it is far from the most straightforward. The Exiles contingent arrived at Yeovil Junction station to find no taxis waiting and a wait of 20 minutes to book one – a terrible waste of Valuable Drinking Time. The only consolation was to see that Mark Clemmit – there to do a report for the Football League Show - was in the same boat.
Thankfully for the packed Cherries support on the open terrace it was a nice afternoon, with no rain nor the excessive heat we had to suffer here a few years ago.
The game kicked off at 3:07 after an impeccably observed minute’s silence in memory of the 96 Liverpool fans who died at Hillsborough 25 years ago. The Cherries lined up with just one change from the Reading game with Ryan Fraser taking his turn in place of Mark Pugh.
The first opportunity fell after only 2 minutes when Grabban, working hard down the left got in a decent cross only for Ritchie to sky his shot (not for the last time this afternoon). Shortly afterwards the home side’s James Hayter, who got a warm welcome from the visiting fans, did even worse when he completely missed the ball when in a good position in front of goal.
Our one and only shot on goal (according to my stats not the BBC’s) came from Fraser on the quarter hour but it was a weak effort and didn’t trouble Marek Stech in the Yeovil goal.
Bournemouth had not really got going and were made to pay half way through the first half when the defence failed to properly clear a free kick. The ball bounced off the shins of Steve Cook to Kieffer Moore on the edge of the box. The gangling former Dorchester Town man returned it with interest with a shot into the top corner of the net which gave Lee Camp no chance.
The half continued in a scrappy manner with neither side able to string any passes together on a pitch that was more bumpy than it looked at first sight. The best chance for an equaliser came from 20-goal Lewis Grabban who screwed wide after being put through by strike partner Kermorgant.H-T 1-0
Grabban spurned another reasonable chance after the break when he again fired wide after possibly the best passing move of the game. How many would Lewis have scored this season if he could finish?
Although the large away following attempted to recreate the excellent atmosphere we’ve seen and heard at home recently the open terrace made it difficult and songs and chants tended to drift off into the Somerset sunshine.
Adam Smith’s patient wait for game time since his return to the club finally came to an end 10 minutes after the interval when he replaced Ian Harte. Eddie’s thinking was presumably to introduce a bit more pace down our left hand side. It certainly seemed to liven things up a bit and it was Smith’s pass that led to the very fortunate equaliser. His through ball for Fraser was just too strong but the Yeovil defender’s attempted clearance smashed into the face of the onrushing Wee Man and looped over the helpless Stech to the delight of the Cherries supporters behind the goal.
The hope that this stroke of luck would spur us on to a win was in vain. Eddie introduced Pitman and Rantie but there was still no fluency to the Cherries play and the tiredness in their legs after a gruelling week started to show. The best chance for a winner also fell to Fraser but his shot matched the poor standard of the game and sailed over the crossbar.
By the end it seemed that both teams were settling for a draw - even though it didn’t really suit either side - and despite a couple of half chances that’s exactly what they got.
On a day when most of the team had an off-day I’ll give it to Elphick for making less mistakes than most.
AFCB: Camp, Francis, Cook, Elphick, Harte, Ritchie, Surman, O'Kane, Fraser, Kermorgant, Grabban
Subs: Allsop, Ward, Pugh, MacDonald, Smith (for Harte, 57 mins), Pitman (for Grabban, 68 mins), Rantie (for Fraser, 80 mins)
Clive Loader, Basingstoke