April 5 Swansea City 1-2 AFC Bournemouth Att: 15613

Last updated : 09 April 2008 By Pete Wicks
This grand new stadium might help regeneration of this benighted area; from outside & once in the seats it's very impressive - sightlines & width between rows. However, the under croft (turnstiles, bars etc.) is just breeze-blocks, & the scoreboards show merely which teams, score, & time; no line-ups, scorers, subs etc. We were confined to the North Stand, at the corner by the East Stand; several of us stood (at the back) for the whole game, but had no reproach from stewards.

Anyway, with Hollands & Bartley both out, Bond had no option but to make 10 good team selections, plus something called Tessem. Anderton led out the lads, who kicked off away from us. Jacks had more of the play initially; not surprising as Cherries' midfield formation was random, amorphous, at best fluid. Jacks had a shot over the angle, then the 22 was put through in inside-right but shot past the far post; Forde closed down & made himself "big". Eventually Cherries settled down, with Anderton & Cooper sitting, Tessem floating forward from the centre circle, Gradel & Kuffour wide left & right respectively, & Vokes alone up front. But after 15 mins I don't recall Tessem having had a kick. Gradel was looking lively, now on the left, & Jacks probed patiently. The 28 shot just wide, & Anderton had a free deflected for a corner. It was played out wide, back in, but Vokes headed soft to the keeper. Gradel was also lively covering back; others put in defensive blocks. The 18 shot, but Forde caught comfortably; it seemed just a matter of time. However, the 18 then shot wide, leading to a long passage of play when Jacks hit & hoped - a sign of impatience? But Jacks had 70% of possession & territory over the half.

Tessem won a corner, with which the keeper had no problem. Bradbury made a good tackle in the angle of our area; with no natural left-winger against him he never looked out of place except when his back-pass was short & Forde had to rush out. Gowling & Pearce were solid, covering mutually, but Pearce was yellowed for a hard tackle. There was much commitment in the away side - professional pride & desire to play in spite of the background problems. The 9 was surrounded & could only shoot wide. Kuffour won a free, inside-right, 20 yards out; Anderton's shot was pushed out & Cooper blazed over. Gowling intercepted well & Pearce blocked for a corner. The 18 screwed wide again; this was a very competent, patient, solid, structured performance by Cherries that meant HT 0-0.

The restart showed both sides wanting to up the tempo as Cummings burst through & was pulled back. Gowling intercepted again, allowing Gradel to roar up field & shoot; this was deflected to the keeper. Straight up field for a home corner, covered well. The 2nd corner saw the 18 for once unmarked; his header went inside Forde's right-hand post. 1-0, 50. Cherries' response saw passing & option-taking failing in the 3rd quarter. We noticed EH in the tech. area, with Bond behind him; sometimes they swapped. Tessem was caught out too easily, with his languid manner; he'd been just a spare part & Pitman replaced him on 58, going wide left. Kuffour, now just behind Vokes, had a decent run, feeding Gradel on the right, & a corner resulted.

Vokes headed on but Anderton couldn't prevent a goal kick. Cherries then produced a great cross-field move & back again, for another corner. Down the other end it went, Forde needing to punch. As this wave developed, Forde made 3 diving saves in quick succession, the 2nd by his left post. Magnificent. Vokes was high & wide; Kuffour was doing 2 things right but the next thing wrong. Gradel slung it over for him; it came back so over again & Pitman put it over the far angle. Gradel put in a great diagonal which just beat Pitman at the far post for a corner. Cooper hit over from 25. Kuffour was increasingly tricky, but with no end product. Then from a free, inside-left, Forde held well. All Cherries were playing their part in a good performance, but still the nagging feeling that if Jacks upped their game it would be all over. Gradel was back where Anderton should've been - & was penalised for his input. Pearce? put it over the bar as panic cover, then Pitman shinned it high, wide etc. Anderton tossed the captain's armband to Cummings as he was replaced by Partington on 87. Straight away the sub was waving his arms, directing, conducting. Kuffour hit the bar, then from the next attack a corner was granted. The ball had deflected to the keeper, who dropped onto it on the goal-line. His body was over, but as he rose he made great play of showing the ball was not. So the lino used reverse psychology (thanks, Nick!) to award the corner, on the right. At the far post, Partington rose a little & nodded it in for his first-ever senior goal! 1-1, 90: Jubilation!! The joy on his face as he came over to us was wonderful to behold.

Then Pitman was on the right, coming in along the goal line. He put it through the defender's legs; the defender ended up sat on the ground as Pitman put it along the goalmouth for Kuffour to tap in at the far post; 1-2, 90+1: Pandemonium!!! Must've been 8 players in a heap below us for ages. This was dreamtime! There is no logic to this game…

A welcome return for Garry (for Vokes) on 90+2, but not a clever substitution at a dead-ball situation in Jacks' favour. But Cherries held out! Pitman took the ball into our corner to play out time; the 5 was yellowed for the tackle, at which point the final whistle was blown. 1-2 at FT; joy unconfined!!!!! The team came over to our corner for mutual applause & appreciation. How much was this result down to Bond & how much to the players' passion & pride? After the game, 2 lads back in the pub were very honest in their views of their & our teams. We suggested theirs' should concentrate until the final whistle - recalling Bayern Munich's capitulation in '99 to ManU.

Man Of The Match
Apart from Tessem, no-one had a poor game. Forde continued from last week - 2 flying tip-overs then, the triple save this time. Bradbury was not embarrassed; Gowling & Pearce made a good pairing; Cummings was solid if rarely adventurous. Anderton did what he could - not match-sharp so it's a wonder he lasted as long as he did. Cooper supported well as usual; Pitman & Vokes caused problems. Partington is a coming talent; Kuffour improved throughout the game, so often turning his marker. Marginal, but I give MoM to that fiery, talented, crowd favourite; always the man most likely, up & down both wings (sometimes simultaneously!), covering back, tackling, wanting it more than any home player. Step forward Mad Maxie Gradel!

AFCB: Forde, Gowling, Pearce, Bradbury, Cummings, Cooper, Anderton, Kuffour, Gradel, Tessem, Vokes
Subs: Pryce, McQuoid, Pitman (for Tessem, 59 mins), Partington (for Anderton, 87 mins), Garry (for Vokes, 90 mins)
Pete Wicks, Bulford