We may have missed out on automatic promotion, but it was vitally important to ensure a decent finish for 2 reasons:
1. To go in to the play-offs in the highest possible place.
2. Go in to the play-offs in form.
Little did we know that we were in for a frustrating afternoon all round. To start off with, the kick-off was delayed. Congestion they said. More like the thugs outside had delayed the match. The sign that trouble was expected was the unusual sight of police in riot gear in front of the away contingent!!
But when we did get underway some 15 minutes late, proceedings were fairly even, but the industrious work of Lincoln earned them some early pressure, forcing early saves from Neil Moss. But the early pressure was matched by Bournemouth, when Wade Elliott burst in to the box, seemingly felled only to see a goal kick awarded. Only the fans appealed for a spot kick. No matter how much we tried, we never matched Lincoln for sheer work rate throughout the game, even though we were clearly the better passing team. It struck me that it wasn't going to be our day when the communication amoung the Bournemouth ranks was lacking. Passing would go astray, balls mis placed on too many occassions.
So it came as no surprise when Lincoln took the lead just before the half hour. Butcher picked the ball up just outside the area to neatly place the ball past the outstretched Neil Moss (28 mins). There probably wasn't a great deal Moss could do, but questions needed to be asked as to why the player was free in the first place.
The second period started in explosive fashion for Bournemouth. Marcus Browning was desperately unlucky not to net on two occassions in the opening few minutes. The first chance came off the inside of the post and straight to the Lincoln keeper (49 mins), and the second chance was scrambled off the line (53 mins) after the Lincoln keeper spilled the ball!! But that was the closest we were to get to an equaliser.
Scott McDonald was inspired, covering virtually every blade of grass on the pitch, in defence, midfield or up front. The lad certainly knows how to beat players and head for goal, and isn't scared to have a go. Even when Sean O'Driscoll did make changes, they were largely ineffective despite the attacking formation adopted in an attempt to claim the euqliaser, but it wasn't to be!!
Thankfully results elsewhere guarantee a play-off place for the Cherries for the very first time. If we are to succeed, we will need to do better and score some goals. Just look at the top teams in Div 3 - all have men who are capable of scoring +15 goals a season.
AFCB: Moss, Young, Purches, C Fletcher, Gulliver, Thomas, Purches, Browning, Elliott, Holmes, McDonald
Subs: Stewart, Hayter (for Young, 65), O'Connor (for Gulliver, 74), Stock, S Fletcher (for Holmes, 62)
Andy Burton, Portsmouth