April 10 Hartlepool United 2-1 AFC Bournemouth Att: 5544

Last updated : 16 April 2004 By Phil Nesbitt
With Feeney injured, Buxton left out through illness and Fletch only on the subs bench we started with a 4 4 2 formation with Purches moving to right full back, Jorgy wide right, O'Connor wide left and Holmes and Hayter up front. The few changes meant that again we would probably take a while to gel together.

In fact we started the brighter of the teams and Browning soon fired just wide after good build up play from Jorgensen and Holmes. However, Hartlepool soon got going as well and Cummings had to make a good block and this was swiftly followed by pinball in our box following a Hartlepool freekick but the ball was eventually cleared. At the other end Stock fired well wide after good build up play down our left. There were a few incidents at either end until after 31 minutes the Hartlepool 'keeper Provert double fisted a Stock freekick when unchallenged (catching it would have been much easier!) and Cummings skied the return towards their box and after a couple of poor headers the ball fell to Hayter to crash in a left footed volley from the edge of the area. One up though not deservedly.

Soon after this a good move ended with Hayter having his effort deflected wide. A through ball from the Hartlepool midfield after some scrappy play saw their Porter sprint free down our left from what appeared to be an offside position (an unbiased view from behind the goal!) and his cross was stopped by Carl Fletcher but fell kindly into the path of Boyd who finished easily from the 6 yard line. 1 all after 37 minutes which was a fair reflection of the state of the game. The last action of the half saw Stock shoot straight at their 'keeper after Holmes' knock down from a Jorgy cross.

The start off the second half saw Hartlepool have the better part of the play and all the goal attempts came from them. Westward had a shot deflected wide and then moss made a fine save from a one on one with Sweeney. 'Pool sub Robinson was booked soon after coming on for a late and unnecessary challenge on Browning on the touchline and almost immediately he crossed well only for Clarke to put the ball over despite having far too much time. Boyd then put Hartlepool ahead as he received a pass, with Carl Fletcher not close enough and losing his man after an attempted tackle, to advance and slot home despite Mossy getting a hand to the effort.

This sparked a change and Fletch and Broadhurst replaced Stock and O'Connor and we went 3 at the back with Purches and Cummins pushing forward from midfield. This enabled us to start causing them many more problems. A ball into the box saw Purches have 3 attempts at a shot without the ball ever being in phase with his feet and Fletch having an effort deflected over immediately afterwards. Fletch then put over a delightful cross for Hayter to power a header straight at Provert in goal. Some would say that he should have scored but I feel that he only had time to ensure that the attempt was on target.

A further change saw Elliott replace Maher and several players, Purches and Cummings included, appear confused as to what formation we were now playing. 2 at the back appeared to be the answer. wee continued to huff and puff and Browning crashed a shot against the post, from my position it was never going in and those near me did not get excited. There were no scares at the other end but the match ended in defeat.

This is a blow to our play off hopes but not terminal. A few players, notably Purches, look tired and I suspect that a some changes may be made for the remaining matches. Sean stated that he thought that we were in control for most of the match. I disagree with this as there were far too many misplaced passes, most of them long balls as well and we did not really look much of a team until the last frantic 15 minutes. We were certainly nowhere near the team that played at Wednesday.

Man of the match goes to Hayter for his constant running and never say die attitude. Moss also deserves a mention.

AFCB: Moss, Purches, Cummings, C Fletcher, Maher, Jorgensen, Stock, Browning, O'Connor, Hayter, Holmes.
Subs: S Fletcher (for Stock on 74) Broadhurst (for O'Connor, 73), Elliott (for Maher, 85), Tindall, Young
Phil Nesbitt, Reading