Dec 20 AFC Bournemouth 2-0 Bury Att: 3479

Last updated : 09 January 2009 By Richie Barker
Actually, mostly not, as Quinn reacted decisively to the unacceptable midweek performance by making wholesale changes for the visit of second-placed Bury. Some of these were enforced due to injury (Cooper) and suspension (Pitman, Molesley and Hollands), while Ward and Cummings paid the price for their culpability in Blyth's goal and McQuoid also dropped to the bench. Bradbury kept his place but reverted to right back, leaving Jalal, Guyett, Pearce and Bartley as the only unchanged components. Into the starting line-up came Garry at left back, Partington to partner Bartley in central midfield, Connell and Tubbs up front, Igoe on the right, and there was a surprise debut for the pacy 17 year old Carl Preston on the left.

Enforced or not, it was soon evident that Quinn had come up with a system and style of play ideally suited to pose problems for Bury. Their centre backs Sodje and the improbably tall Futcher, probably expecting a comfortable afternoon of aerial duels with Bradbury, instead found themselves having to cope with the likes of Connell and Tubbs running at them. Pearce and Guyett on top form contained the dangerous Bury strikers, while Bartley and Partington harried constantly in midfield to prevent the visitors from establishing a passing game.

A first half packed with open attacking play passed quickly, the inclusion of Igoe and Preston enabling the team to (mostly) escape its route one tendencies and concentrate instead on getting the ball wide, attacking the full backs and getting in crosses, of which there were many. Sodje and Futcher's height advantage meant that most of these came to nothing, but when the ball was drilled in low by Connell, Preston twice came close to getting on the end and marking his debut with a goal. Pressure eventually told in the 39th minute. Partington, who had already made a couple of decisive tackles, put in another, but this time in Bury's half. With the dispossessed player left prone by the impact of the challenge the ball was swept out to the left and Preston crossed deep. A Bury defender headed the ball weakly straight to Igoe who drove it past the keeper and through Sodje's despairing attempt to block. Minutes later Tubbs picked Partington out with an accurate cross and he guided the ball inside the post with a precise side-foot volley from the penalty spot. The half ended with a less than gruntled Sodje being chastised by a team-mate and removing his shirt in disgust before exiting down the tunnel.

Bury were out early for the second half, concluding their team talk on the pitch. They did manage to raise their game and made a few half chances, none of which seriously tested Jalal until Baker almost capitalised upon a rare missed tackle from Partington and unleashed a rasping 25 yarder which was bound for the top corner until the keeper produced and outstanding fingertip save. Despite the more even balance to the game Bournemouth were still looking a serious threat to score, repeatedly breaking forward at pace with precise interchanges of passing, Igoe, Connell and Tubbs seeming to have a particularly good understanding. Tubbs went close with a cross shot that went just wide after some typically slick build up play.

Near the end Preston was substituted to a great ovation after a solid performance that suggests Joe Roach may have produced another future first teamer. Partington looks ready to claim his place sooner rather than later, and may get that chance if Cooper's rumoured move comes to pass. In stoppage time Connell could have capped a good individual performance with a goal when he beat the offside trap and raced in on the keeper, but Sodje got back to make an excellent tackle. As his fitness improves chances like that should end up in the net.

If this level of performance can be maintained a number of the absentees will find it hard to regain their places - arguably only Cooper and Molesley would have improved this side - and there is a realistic chance of closing the gap on Grimsby and the other strugglers.

Man Of The Match
Man of the match: Everybody played well, and the back four and midfield were outstanding. Bradbury had perhaps his best game in a Bournemouth shirt, Garry was rock solid at left back and looked fit at last (until he limped off anyway), Guyett and Pearce dominated the Bury strikers, Bartley rose to the challenge of being the senior central midfielder by returning to his best form, and Partington played with an authority that belied his inexperience; but I'm going to plump for Sammy Igoe who was the fulcrum for our best passing performance in ages combining good technique and intelligence with sheer effort for ninety minutes, always working to make himself available as an outlet for team-mates under pressure.

AFCB: Jalal, Guyett, Garry, Pearce, Bradbury, Igoe, Bartley, Partington, Preston, Tubbs, Connell
Subs: Pryce, Lindfield, Cummings (for Garry, 73 mins), McQuoid (for Preston, 87 mins), Ward (for Bartley, 90 mins)
Richie Barker, Leyton