Aug 15 AFC Bournemouth 1-0 Rotherham United Att: 5091

Last updated : 19 August 2009 By Peter Wicks
Boscombe KO'd to the North stand. Bradbury set Pitman away; he fed Feeney whose cross was headed away. Northern journeyman Ellison skewed a shot wide. Feeney won a corner, which was headed over for another. Cummings took both from the NE corner, with no team-mate nearby (thank goodness) - another sign of Howe changing tactics. So Boscombe had started positively - until Cummings over-hit a back-pass for an unnecessary corner. For a spell, Boscombe gave the ball away too often with Millers taking the initiative. (Incidentally, as their nickname derives from the old ground, should Rotherham now be called the Dons, the Valleys or the Stadia?) Molesley responded by putting a shot wide. Then his sliding tackle on Ellison was timed impeccably - for next Tuesday's game. The yellow was quite deserved, & reduced Molesley's efficacy for the rest of the game. A superb cross from the left saw Molesley diving into the 6-yard box but it skimmed wide. 20 minutes, we had a good game, both sides positive, high tempo.

Feeney put in a superb run & cross; Pitman lined up the header - & missed by more than a yard. Garry's covering was proving better than his distribution, & Jalal's catching better than his kicking, but Ellison & his no.3 were by now doubling up on Feeney. Robinson's left-footer from a clearance went at the keeper. Both sides were, er, crisp into the tackle; exchanges muscular & robust. Igoe's cross was headed for a corner, from which Feeney escaped much attention & his near-post cross saw Pitman's flick header go just over. By now, Boscombe had regained the initiative & deserved a lead.

Garry went down in a heap, but continued eventually. Then Pearce had to concede a corner - caught well again. Soon after, a free from our left found its way to Bradbury on the right. His hook back from the by-line had Garry, presumably in his concussed state thinking he was Nat Lofthouse, diving forward to crash the ball into the net with his head in the middle of a bunch of players. Every home fan was on his or her feet; indeed deserved. A fan near me suggested that "this Embargo's a good signing"! Just time for Pitman to fire over a free from 25 yards - too far out. HT: 1-0.

At the restart, Guyett replaced Garry. Millers juggled the bench during the half to try to take advantage of the supposedly slower new defender, but it made no real difference. Molesley's tricky play allowed Igoe to shoot over from 20 yards. Pitman's snapshot was deflected for a corner, which Pearce headed just wide at the far post. Robinson dived & thus gained a free just outside the area, with which Pitman hit the post. Millers reciprocated, but put it over. Cummings brought the ball out of defence, sped up the wing, exchanged with Igoe whose brilliant little flick let Cummings continue. The cross found Feeney free in the area, but was just too high & fast for him to connect with the attempted volley. This was still high tempo.

Millers had a near-post header at Jalal. Feeney won another corner; at this rate he'll become a Dean Court legend. However, with Millers coming forward, Boscombe seemed unable to capitalise properly on the space behind. Pitman fed Feeney, whose cross reached Fletcher. He toe-poked across goal but the keeper was just able to stretch to gather it. Even so, Millers seemed more cohesive. Igoe was tricky at inside-left, but shot wide. A bout of handbags near the NW corner saw Bradbury yellowed.

Igoe's passing was not always on the mark; one missed saw Millers flow & allow Jalal to catch well again. Pitman battled forward, & fell, winded. Good play led to a corner, taken as usual from the left by Pitman. (Thus all corners were in-swingers; perhaps some variation might be worthwhile.) This led to much coming & going around the opposition 18-yard line, & some pinball; a second goal really should have resulted. By now, Boscombe were slow with all kicks & throws, annoying the away side. Guyett slipped, letting in Millers - but a miss. Match sponsors' MoM was announced: Feeney, to much acclaim. Then Partington replaced Pitman on 88; the latter had put in a shift in all fairness. 4-5-1 (4-4-1-1-ish). Yet another Feeney cross (by now he was doing it on the run) saw Molesley's header deflected. Igoe went in the hole, Molesley wider left, Partington sitting & organising. Millers attacked frantically, during which Molesley was felled - more retribution for his earlier felony. Then Cummings was yellowed for taking a throw too slow; justified - the team had been warned. Partington & Robinson made good forward headers from midfield, all players working for each other. McQuoid replaced Igoe on 90 (+ something, probably), but never had a touch. Amazingly, SupaFletch did the whole 90, nuisance value as always. Pearce & Jalal combined superbly to deny an attack. At the final whistle, the home crowd roared as one. FT: 1-0.

What a strong performance. Not perfect; distribution was too often awry thus opportunities were lost. But keeping out one of the most fancied teams is a big, big plus. Organisation & commitment; this side can take care of itself. And the crowd - I've not heard this kind of backing since the play-off semis in 2003; something a little different in the tone - insistent, utterly supportive.

Robinson & Molesley continued their excellent partnership; probing the dark recesses of the opposition in the way they do they could become experts in gynaecology. Pitman seems to want to be the scorer of great goals, & to provide stylish assists; the team needs him to goal-poach. However, his attempts kept the opposition defence thinking, not able to relax. Cummings was almost back to his best; speedy, positioning & tackling not always the best, but more an asset than not.

Only 6 subs were available, with 3 left on the bench. Goulding & Bartley are out for some time now, & Garry for at least 1 game, so presumably Tindall will be on the bench the next game. Garry's recovery must be lifted when he realises that he's scored in every home league game this season before Tuesday 18 August; a veritable goal-machine compared to some further up the field.... But any chance of staying in the top half - let alone the top 2 - depends on the embargo being lifted. Most weeks in the near future, it'll be 2 games a week. Yellows, injuries, the squad down to 11+3 before too long, perhaps worse. Reason for concern, so let's admire the squad's & management's efforts while we can. Some negatives: Molesley has a slight hot-head tendency & needs to address it. Timewasting was disappointing. And the scoreboard was u/s.

Man Of The Match
Big effort from all. Garry, Pearce & Guyett were utterly solid; Robinson goes about his work quietly & efficiently & superbly. But sheer pizzazz, old-fashioned wing-play, keeping the defence on the back foot, gives it to Feeney.

AFCB: Jalal, Bradbury, Cooper, Garry, Cummings, Robinson, Igoe, Feeney, Pitman, Fletcher, Molesley
Subs: Pyrce, Webb, Connell, Guyett (for Garry, HT), Partington (for Pitman, 88 mins), McQuoid (for Igoe, 96)