Based on his performances at the end of last season and in the pre-season friendlies I had seen I expected Derek Holmes to be fifth choice striker and struggling to make the bench. Sean must have seen them very differently as, to the incredulity of the 400 or so visiting fans, Delboy’s name appeared in the starting line-up, and starting on the left wing!
As always the new season brings new optimism that we’re going to take the league by storm and that referees will see the light and do their job sensibly. This optimism lasted approximately 2 minutes until Danny Allsop appeared to push Carl Fletcher and then attempt to cross from the left only to hit Karl Broadhurst standing about a yard away from him. I’m not sure that the ball did hit Karl on the arm but even if it did there’s no way he could have got out of the way. Referee Phil Prosser however saw it differently and immediately pointed to the spot for handball. Stuart Green duly converted the penalty and with the new season barely 3 minutes old the Cherries were one-nil down.
For some reason the ref’s decision caused the Bournemouth contingent to think he needed reminding of his family name and they launched a chorus of “The referee’s a Prosser” – at least I think that’s what they were singing.
Despite this early blow the Cherries settled into the game ands started to play the passing football we know they are capable of. 10 minutes later the ever-willing Cummings made a break down the left and crossed for Dani Rodrigues, starting his second spell with the club, who could only hit his shot straight at Myhill in the Tigers’ goal.
Despite the away side having more possession Hull were making more chances from theirs and it was Green and Allsop again who combined after 20 minutes to leave the latter one-on-one with Neil Moss. Not for the last time in the game Moss stood up well and made an excellent save.
A bit of concerted pressure from the Cherries led to a couple of corners but the closest they came to scoring was with ten minutes of the first half remaining when Hull’s Delaney managed to slice a clearance over his own bar.
The second half started with Bournemouth continuing to play pretty football but still not really threatening to score. Steve Fletcher replaced Holmes on the hour but shortly afterwards the job was to become harder as Cherries were reduced to 10 men. Neil Moss , with his only real mistake of the match, came to retrieve a ball near his left hand corner flag but somehow seemed to stumble over the ball which was seized on by Nick Barmby. Barmby, who seems to have put on a few pounds since his Premiership days, crossed to Allsop and with the ‘keeper left stranded Neil Young pulled Allsop back to concede another penalty. The ref adjudged that Young had prevented a clear goal scoring opportunity and showed him the red card. This time though Mossy guessed correctly and made a fine save to keep our now remote hopes alive.
It was now a real uphill battle but Bournemouth fought well and continued to have the majority of the possession with Browning and Hayter both going close. Now though with the extra man Hull looked very dangerous on the break. Moss had to make two more fine saves including another one-on-one, this time with Barmby.
With 10 minutes to go it was good to see the return of the prodigal son as Eddie Howe made his entry from the bench, allowing Carl Fletcher to be pushed forward into midfield. It was too little too late though as we finally succumbed to the inevitable.
It’s too early after one match to make any predictions (apart perhaps that referees are going to be as bad as ever) but it was a spirited effort from the Cherries despite the early setback. 1-0 though was probably a fair result as Hull had by far the more chances and it was the same old story with Bournemouth’s refined football leading to far too few clear-cut chances.
AFCB: Moss, Young, Cummings, C Fletcher, Broadhurst, Stock, Browning (Howe 83), Hayter (Connell 78), Elliott, Holmes (S Fletcher 58), Rodrigues.
Subs Not Used: Stewart, Maher.
Clive Loader, Wimbledon