Aug 8 Bury 0-3 AFC Bournemouth Att: 2998

Last updated : 24 August 2009 By Richie Barker

The new season seems come around quicker every year, and with the usual faces on the terraces and in the team, and even a few old friends(?) welcomed(?) back into the boardroom it hardly seemed three months since the dismantling of Morecambe brought 2008-2009 to such a satisfactory conclusion.

Would we be able to pick where we left on the pitch? Not for the first fifteen minutes, as Bury lived up to their rating as promotion contenders, looking comfortable in possession and creating some chances. Finishing does not look to be one of their strengths however, and their only one worthwhile attempt on goal was ruled out for offside.

As we've come to expect, the defence was able to withstand the early pressure. The late replacement of Garry (dead leg) with Guyett caused no problems as the big Aussie went on to have one of his best games with a near faultless display of good old-fashioned, "they shall not pass" defending. As a unit you wouldn't fancy this back four against a side with a great deal of pace, but fortunately that's not a weapon in the armoury of many sides in this division. Unfortunately for Bury it is one in ours, in the person of Steve Fletcher sorry Liam Feeney. On the evidence of this game he looks to have come on a fair bit since last season, crucially in the area of getting some decent crosses in after he's skinned the defender.

It was rather against the run of play when Pitman gave Bournemouth the lead after 17 minutes with one of his trademark long range curlers - top corner, in off the post, no chance for the keeper. This settled things down considerably and Molesley and Igoe in their contrasting but complementary styles began to get a grip on midfield. Robinson added a second before half-time. Igoe spotted Pitman in space out wide and his first time cross found Robinson six yards out in front of goal being studiously ignored by both Futcher and Sodje. The midfielder calmly directed the simplest of headers past the justifiably exasperated keeper.

Most of us were thinking it would be nice to get a third to really make things comfortable, and Molesley obliged early in the second half with an excellent strike, picking up a clearance 25 yards out, creating an opening and drilling the ball across the keeper, who got a hand to it but not enough to make a significant difference to the ball's trajectory.

With little chance of getting back in the game Bury resorted to a few dubious challenges, Futcher in particular getting involved in some petulant clashes and allowing himself to get wound up by Pitman. Perhaps the big stopper had seen the writing on the wall for his career after getting outpaced by Steve Fletcher, never a good sign. If you were being really critical maybe we should have added one or two more, and Goulding was guilty of a poor attempt when clean through on goal, but maybe it's wise to save the goals for games when we need them down the line.

Ordinarily you wouldn't read too much into the opening game of the season, but taken in the context of our form over the second half of last season this was a very encouraging performance against one of the better teams in the division. The defence is good enough, midfield has strength in depth, Pitman will score goals, and Fletcher will win enough headers for the ball to go in the right direction occasionally. If we can avoid too many injuries, selling off key players and another administration we might just have some sort of chance of getting out of this division in the right direction.

Man Of The Match
Mark Molesley - industrious and difficult to dispossess, hard to believe it's taken him so long to get his chance in league football.

AFCB: Jalal, Guyett, Pearce, Bradbury, Cummings, Igoe, Feeney, Molesley, Robinson, Pitman, Fletcher
Subs: Pryce, Goulding (for Fletcher, 67), Partington (for Guyett, 74), Bartley (for Feeney, 79), Tindall, McQuoid, Connell

Richie Barker, Leytonstone