This week’s answer to Eddie’s “guess the fake injury” game was MacDonald, who lined up in midfield alongside O’Kane, with Fogden preferred to McQuoid on the right and Pitman and Grabban up front. Cook and Elphick handled centre-back duties in the absence of Addison.
Bournemouth dominated possession in the first half but there were few chances for either side until we took the lead on 27 minutes. A great looping header bound for the top corner from Pitman was clawed away at full stretch by Mildenhall but Grabban was quick to get to the loose ball and shot on the turn past the recovering keeper from a narrow angle. Not the only example of the two strikers working well in tandem today, they seem to have an understanding already which could bode well for the rest of the season. Pitman on this showing looks to be a more complete player than when he left us, working hard off the ball and making good decisions when on the ball rather than constantly attempting the spectacular.
Scunthorpe were awarded a penalty with their first attack after the restart as Elphick blocked an attempted cross and was ruled to have handled. It would have been a harsh decision had the ball actually struck Elphick on the arm, but as the ball clearly struck his side it was poor, and quite in keeping with the performance of the officials throughout the afternoon. Grella obligingly hit the penalty weakly to James’ right and it was saved comfortably. To complete a mad five minutes, Bournemouth broke down the field and promptly doubled their lead. Pugh’s shot was blocked but as a defender attempted to hook the ball away Fogden charged down the attempted clearance and the ball looped over Mildenhall, who was unable to scramble back quickly enough to reach the ball before it crossed the line. A lucky goal, but sympathy for Scunthorpe was in short supply after the dodgy penalty award.
Scunthorpe had a little more possession in the second half, but once again their main strike threat was came from the linesmen, as one awarded a penalty for a handball by MacDonald that escaped everyone else, including the players and the Scunthorpe fans behind the goal, who had a far better view than the officials. Hawley converted the penalty. In the past this would have ushered in a panicky last half-hour, but this team is made of sterner stuff. James made one good close range save on what was otherwise a fairly quiet afternoon for the defence, and the closing stages were played out professionally largely in the opposition half.
The referee, who had been having trouble awarding decisions against the home side throughout then attempted to outdo the uselessness of his linesmen by making up his own rules, awarding a throw to Scunthorpe after Daniels had been booked for delaying the original (Bournemouth) throw, but even playing against fourteen wasn’t enough to deny us the points.
Man of the match: Rock-solid displays from everyone, Lewis Grabban just about shades it, now adding some end-product to the pace and hard work.
Numpties of the match: Referee Duncan and his two assistants
AFCB: James, Francis, Elphick, Cook, Daniels, O'Kane, MacDonald, Fogden, Pugh, Pitman, Grabban
Subs: Buchel, Demouge, Tubbs, McDermott, Fletcher, McQuoid (for Pugh, 74 mins), Partington (for Fogden, 89 mins)
Richie Barker, Leyton