Dec 14 Shrewsbury Town 0-0 AFC Bournemouth Att: 2869

Last updated : 19 December 2002 By Richie Barker
This game was at least a little more entertaining than my previous outing at Orient, although on balance not as entertaining as watching a slightly batty woman trying to feed liquorice to a polecat (Who said variety was dead? Not in Shrewsbury it isn’t.).

This was my first game in three weeks, but little had changed in the intervening period. Fletch the Elder was less influential than usual as Artell and Redmile were well-equipped to counter the aerial threat, Hayter and Elliott looked to be a little closer to their true form, and the Carl and Karl double act in defence goes from strength to strength.

We started well with Browning meeting a cross from Thomas in the first minute but unable to direct his shot on target, Elliott hitting the post with a low bobbler after 8 minutes, and Hayter shooting at the keeper after a good run after 12 minutes, but it was soon apparent that despite their lowly position Shrewsbury had a little more to offer than some of our opponents this season, and they probably shaded the game overall on chances and possession. After 14 minutes Shrewsbury should have been in front. Moss opted to stay on his line from a corner and pulled off a good save from Redmile’s header, but an attempted clearance was blocked and the ball looped across goal presenting Lowe with a glorious chance which he contrived to volley well over from 8 yards out.

The diminutive but pacy Luke Rodgers was proving a real handful on the right side of the Shrews’ attack. In the 21st minute he outpaced our defence before dragging his shot across the face of the goal from a narrow angle, and 10 minutes later took advantage of one of Purches’ forays upfield to get behind him, costing Fletch the Younger a booking as he raced across to put an unceremonious end to the threat. Even the lenient ex-player ref Steve Baines had no option on with that one. Minutes later it was Broadhurst’s turn to be thankful that Rodger’s finishing wasn’t quite as impressive as his speed, as the striker went past him but only found the side netting. There was still time for Redmile to miss the best chance of the half, heading over from almost under the crossbar after Moss had been left with little protection from a free kick.

0-0 at half time, and although Shrewsbury had had the better of it, Thomas, Elliott and Hayter had all caused problems at times by running at their defence, so there was still hope of nicking the points. That hope was almost realised early in the second half when a loose ball came to Steve Fletcher around the angle of the six yard box, but his first time effort just missed the top corner.

Chances for both sides were proving harder to come by, although Shrewsbury did have a goal disallowed for offside, and shortly after were denied by an excellent block from a Cherries defender (poor floodlights and descending mist prevented identification, but well done that man). The introduction of Feeney for Thomas after 66 minutes livened things up a little and he had a couple of powerful shots off target, although he might have been better off passing to the unmarked O’Connor on the second occasion. Feeney did set up Browning with a good chance, but the midfielder miskicked from about 10 yards out. The closest we got was an excellent run by Elliott which he finished with a great strike which was heading for the top corner until Dunbavin’s fingernails intervened to send the ball thudding against the bar. Great save, curses! Rodgers had one last run which took him half the length of the field but once more failed to finish, and the last 15 minutes produced little more of note for either side (or my fingers had got too cold to take any more notes). Nice reception for Neil Moss at the end after the final game of his loan spell.

Carl Fletcher, narrowly from his partner Karl Broadhurst, looks to be a very good combination in the centre of defence.

Bournemouth: Moss; Young, Broadhurst, C. Fletcher, Purches; Elliott, Browning, O’Connor, Thomas; Hayter, Fletcher (4-4-2).
Subs: Feeney (Thomas 66), Narada (Young 83), Tardif, Tindall, Holmes.
Richard Barker, Leyton