Aug 10 AFC Bournemouth 2-2 Walsall Att: 6485

Last updated : 13 August 2004 By Andy Burton
What a great sight to behold - Eddie Howe back where he belongs - in a red and black shirt, as opposed to some skanky blue thing they play in along the coast (and a mile away from me!!). Also, what a great job has been done on the new pitch!! A lovely carpet of green to play on.

The team received a great reception as they came out on to the pitch in front of a healthy 6485 crowd.

As the game started it was fairly even as both sides settled to the warm summer evening conditions. But it was Bournemouth who created the first chance (falling to Elliott), whose shot sailed over from 20 yards on 8 minutes. There were other chances falling to Bournemouth, but when a direct approach seemed more appropriate, a more intricate approach was taken, which invariably meant that Walsall were able to clear their lines by simply getting bodies in the way and blocking what Bournemouth had to offer.

Then on 37 minutes, Walsall, with practically their first shot on target took the lead. The fast and troublesome Daryl Taylor latched on to a Paul Merson cross, and simply volleyed past Neil Moss. Just before that, Moss pulled off a great save as Kinsella drove a fierce shot goalwards. So disappointing to go a goal behind, when the ball should have been dealt with before Taylor scored.

After the break Walsall doubled their money as Bournemouth failed to deal with a cross from the right hand side. Another Merson cross was headed home, at the far post by Kris Taylor on 50 minutes. How/would we come back from this?

Chances came and went, most notably for Dani who only had to hit the target, but somehow spooned the chance to safety (from a Walsall perspective)!! So frustrating as the crowd held their heads in their hands!!

Then came the decisive change on 59 minutes. Big Steve Fletcher was introduced as Brian Stock was sacrificed. Although his introduction was 13 minutes before the goal, we suddenly had more of a physical (and height) presence up front, which Rodrigues and Hayter don't quite have.

Having rattled the woodwork, Elliott then set Hayter up for our first goal of the season. A lovely cross was smashed in at the far post by Hayter (72 mins). It was thoroughly deserved. Wizard Wade then got his own reward with a goal of his own just 2 minutes later to complete the comeback. Steve Fletcher headed the ball to Elliott who simply smashed the ball home!!

The comback could have been even better as Connell curled a lovely ball agonisingly past the left hand up right. If it had gone in, Dean Court would have erupted as an unlikely victory would have been sealed. As it was, both sides sat back for the draw.

Wade Elliott wins my man of the match award. Non stop running, set up one goal and scored the equaliser. Must also mention Shaun Maher, Warren Cummings and Jamie Hayter who were also outstanding.

AFCB: Moss, Howe, Broadhurst, Maher, Cummings, Elliott, Browning, Stock, C Fletcher, Hayter, Rodrigues
Subs: Stewart, Rowe, S Fletcher (on for Stock, 59 mins), Connell (on for Rodrigues, 79), Holmes
Andy Burton, Portsmouth