Striker injuries (& Ings’ impending departure) had forced Bradbury’s hand for these 1st 3 games but the League Cup result should have restored some confidence – as long as the 5-0 hadn’t used up the goal quota. Thus Taylor was partnered up front by short-term loan Doble. Molesley & Gregory formed central midfield.
Home boot-watch: pink for Molly Malone, orange for Byrne & lemon for Taylor. Cherries k.o. to the South Stand, and soon 3 home forwards were mixed-up at inside-left near the away by-line. A home corner saw Owls break out. Barrett’s a real centre-half throwback – Willo, John Delaney, oh the Jimmy White of my youth… From a pull-back, Owls shot over, but Taylor & Pugh were being pulled back all over by their markers resulting in several frees. From one, Pugh hit it just wide of the near post on 13. Doble was showing nice touches & links, but Gregory appeared to be still adjusting to Div.3 pace. Taylor nibbled continually at the defence. Malone had the upper hand on his side; Byrne was OK mostly.
The ref. started as he meant to go on, seeking to play advantage & letting the game flow. This contributed to a decent on-pitch atmosphere, with rarely a malicious tackle & few cards. Thus Owls shot over then across & wide, & Cherries had a good move leading to Taylor laying back for Doble to shoot – deflected for a goal-kick. The same player nicked it over the bar close in under pressure. Malone was eager and won a corner on his side; Pugh slung it over for Barrett to steam in beyond the far post & bury the header. Superbly taken. 1-0, 38, perhaps just deserved. Then Byrne flew up his wing, leading to Doble’s attempt being deflected over for a corner. In reply, Owls hit over from 22 yards. Both sides had played reasonable football but the home side perhaps just shaded it. HT: 1-0
From the restart, Pugh was caught (much as at Charlton); from the chip Owls headed over. Exile Nesbitt suggested that one deficiency was that neither of the home front pair was picking up the 2nd ball – not surprising for a pair of kids still learning the game and perhaps currently being only Div.4 standard. But Byrne defended well & strongly against his oppo, as Owls applied more pressure. Molesley was a little late again, so was yellowed. Flahavan missed a punch but Owls headed over yet again. Taylor had a snapshot from 45deg. (inside-left), corner of the area, just outside the near post. Doble went into the same part of the area, fell, but probably just an unfortunate collision with his marker. Owls crossed from the right and Carlisle-reject Madine really should’ve done better.
Molesley had shot his bolt so went off in favour of Arter on 66. A long cross had the Owls keeper reach too far; Feeney collected but shot too early and it was headed off the line. As Owls pressed, Cherries broke out several times but didn’t quite capitalise. Pugh’s 30-yard free was just wide of the near post (where’s Brett Pitman when you need him?). Gregory was now harrying Prutton so much he came away with the ball, slinging it wide with a corner resulting.
Then Feeney sent Taylor up the right wing with a throw, sped inside (good anticipation & constructive idea) to receive a little cut-back (well done & seen) as 2 defenders went to Taylor. Feeney passed inside & just behind Doble. Arter had ghosted into the area (excellent anticipation & vision), & a slight hip-sway gave him room & time to hit a left-footer into the corner beyond the keeper’s left hand. 2-0, 83. Gorgeous! Wonderful football; had to be game over. Feeney put in another decent cross but Doble was too knackered to stretch for it. Taylor took a deserved ovation as Fletcher took his place on 88, then Arter slung it long across to Feeney who went forward but shot poorly. Still, it used up a few more seconds.
This reporter would suggest that the best central midfielder across both sides was Prutton, so perhaps it was down to the strikers and flankers that Owls failed to score, as much as the home defence. But he’d seen off both his opponents as the ever-improving Gregory made way for Baudry on 89. Then Doble was felled, leading to a lay back for Fletcher to hit it high from an angle.
A deserved ovation for the entire team. FT: 2-0.
Owls looked competent & well-organised, but moderate. Given Cherries had 5 tyros, it was heartening and with a fully-fit, fully-match-sharp, squad, this team should be top-10. Owls would have to be much sharper to go top-6, but that club’s own financial problems may preclude that level and act as a ceiling on its ambitions whereas the home club now being cash-rich could at least afford to mould an architrave to its ceiling.
Flahavan – barely a mistake, quite competent. Well-shielded, also away forwards somewhat incompetent.
Byrne – better defensively (mostly, especially after half-time) than going forward.
Malone – Wiggins who? Bugsy’s the boss!
Cooper – solid.
Barrett – solid and showed strong leadership.
Feeney – not in game enough but what a telling contribution late on.
Molesley – still not quite there but not far off.
Gregory – seemed to let first half pass him by, but more involved after the break improving as the game progressed.
Pugh – returning to best form.
Taylor – putting in a shift as he realises if he doesn’t make it here it’s Div.4 at best. Worth encouraging.
Doble – little training but still not bested by his experienced marker, turning him several times. Not a natural finisher on this showing, but in other circumstances might be a long-term prospect. No need to keep him with Stockley in the wings.
Arter – valuable alternative option and took his goal superbly both with anticipating, running into space and making time to flip a coin to decide which foot to use to pot it.
Baudry – little time to show his capabilities but didn’t cause a problem apart from being part of a minor mix-up on the edge of the home area.
Fletcher – gave his all for his 6 minutes.
Bradbury – did well to raise spirits after the Addicks defeat.
Garry – so sad he had to stop playing but we all hope he does well in his 2 new roles –especially that of defensive coach as advice on that area is needed after all those late goals conceded last season.
Barratt – leading from front and at back, agreeing with the match sponsors.
AFCB: Flahavan, Bryne, Cooper, Barrett, Malone, Feeney, Molesley, Gregory, Pugh, Taylor, Doble
Subs: Jalal, Purches, Arter (for Molesley, 66 mins), Fletcher (for Taylor, 88 mins), Baudry (for gregory, 89 mins)
Peter Wicks, Bulford