April 20 Luton Town 1-1 AFC Bournemouth Att: 6485

Last updated : 27 April 2004 By Richie Barker
........was relegated in April to a virtual side-show by the poor form of both sides and Hartlepool’s resurgence, but the game still provided plenty of entertainment, even if the final result was of little benefit to either team.

For much of the first half Bournemouth played as if still shell-shocked from the events of the previous Saturday, the team’s late arrival at the ground as a result of delays caused by an accident on the M1 probably a contributing factor. Luton’s three goals at the weekend had all resulted from headers from Steve Robinson set-pieces, and it was more by luck than judgement that they didn’t add another three by this method long before half-time. After 15 minutes Robbo’s free kick was headed in by a virtually unchallenged Howard. 5 minutes later the same player headed against the post from a Robinson corner, and then Hayter did well to clear another header, this time from Davies, from under the bar. Later in the half yet another corner was headed clear by Buxton only as far as Brkovic, whose shot was eventually scrambled clear by Cummings. Perhaps Sean forgot to set the video for “Nationwide League Extra”. Wisely for the rest of the game we decided that our best chance of defending corners was to stop conceding them in the first place.

Fortunate to be only one down, the closing ten minutes of the half saw Bournemouth starting to string a few passes together. Just before the break Holmes’ header, also from a corner, forced an excellent save from Hyldgaard, and a cross from Cummings struck a Luton player on the arm, but the referee decided, probably correctly, that there was no intent, and refused appeals for a penalty.

Bournemouth continued their improved form in the second half and had much the better of the game. As at Dean Court, once under pressure Luton looked frail defensively as Bournemouth attacked towards their own supporters with increasing conviction. Feeney was having one of his better games (Stockport representatives present speculated the cynics), setting up Purches who shot over, and then just failing to make contact after Hayter put him in one on one with the keeper.

Chances kept coming. Feeney’s persistence in harrying a defender resulted in the ball being pulled back for Hayter but Hyldgaard blocked with his legs. Jorgensen’s looping header went just wide with the keeper scrambling to get across. Was it going to be one of those nights? Thankfully not. With 15 minutes left Hayter’s burst into the area was stopped by Robinson, but as the former Cherry tried to bring the ball away he was dispossessed by Jorgensen, who gave the ball to Feeney, unmarked on the edge of the penalty area with only the keeper to beat. Not always the most composed in these situations, this time the Irishman’s finish was top-drawer, curling the ball delicately wide of Hyldgaard and inside the post. Incidentally Robbo still picked up Luton’s man of the match award.

Luton had been more than happy to hang on for 1-0, but a draw was no use to them. Showunmi replaced Forbes, Sean countered by introducing Tindall for Purches. Moss, with little to do in the half until now, produced a great save to turn Howard’s header round the post, and Feeney was denied in stoppage time by a great last-ditch tackle.

Sadly for those of us over five feet tall, the Kenilworth Road seats will be making their impression on our shins again next season.

James Hayter, non-stop effort as usual.

AFCB: Moss; Buxton, C. Fletcher, Broadhurst, Cummings; Hayter, Browning, Purches, Jorgensen; Feeney, Holmes (4-4-2)
Subs: Tindall (Purches 79), Young, Elliott, O’Connor, Stock
Richard Barker, Leyton