Feeney was looking much more lively against the ponderous Wrexham defenders than he had done at Brighton (Lawrie Sanchez’s presence in the crowd probably helped), and was just off target with a shot from a narrow angle following Fletch Snr.’s flick-on, and then put a header just over. Wrexham were giving as good as they got, aided at times by some understandable Bournemouth confusion as the team adjusted to the new system. Browning gambled and lost on making an interception which resulted in a quick breakaway and a shot blazed over, and then Maher became the latest victim of back-pass mania, but Chris Armstrong was unable to capitalise and ran the ball harmlessly out for a goal-kick. Trundle or Morrell last season might not have been so forgiving.
The visitors continued to have the better of the first half and a couple of free kicks caused problems, one partially cleared resulting in a shot wide and another crossed in just beyond the reach of a couple of Wrexham players who threw themselves at it but failed to make contact. Then in stoppage time Jorgensen somehow managed to trick his way past a couple of defenders in the corner. His cross was too high for Fletch, but Cummings collected it at the far post and drilled it through a crowd of players for the second goal. Cummings, probably a little over-excited, then produced the only blemish on an excellent individual performance with a needless booking for a petulant challenge.
Bournemouth continued to look defensively shaky at the start of the second half. A missed tackle from Elliott resulted in a cross/shot that just missed the top corner, and another Maher giveaway forced Moss into the best of his few saves of the game, getting down well at the foot of his post to turn away an awkwardly bouncing shot from distance.
The decisive moment of the game came in the 56th minute when Feeney raced on to a through ball and was held back by Roberts. Clear red card for the defender, and within a couple of minutes the game was wrapped up as Jorgensen completed a hat-trick of assists, bursting through on the left to set up Feeney, who made no mistake from six yards out.
To their credit the team declined to coast and continued to entertain the crowd with some free-flowing football. In quick succession Elliott volleyed just over after some good work form Purches and Cummings, Fletcher and Feeney narrowly failed to apply a decisive touch to Purches’ cross, and Jorgensen and Feeney combined at speed to play in Cummings, who forced to Dibble to make a save with a well struck shot from a narrow angle.
Then with 15 minutes remaining came the moment which seemed certain to be the one for which this game would be remembered. Steve Fletcher (yes STEVE Fletcher), decided that 30 yards out was much too far for a run on goal and, as the ball was sitting up nicely, cracked a magnificent shot which soared over Dibble, dipped sharply, hit the underside of the bar and somehow stayed out. While the shock of that was sinking in Wrexham had time to mount a couple of attacks which Moss dealt with easily enough. Jorgensen almost capped an outstanding display with a goal but was foiled at close range by Dibble. Then Purches, Jorgensen and Steve Fletcher were replaced in quick succession by Stock, O’Connor and new dad Hayter respectively, and the game entered an alternative dimension.
86th minute: Stock curls a diagonal ball into the box, Hayter ghosts in, out-jumps the defence and directs a header into the corner of the net. 4-0. Wrexham kick off, lose possession and Stock’s long ball catches their defence out of position. Hayter collects it and calmly slides the ball under Dibble. 5-0. Two goals in a minute, and just time to realise that we could be on the verge of something remarkable. A couple of attacks come to nothing, then Cummings breaks forward, Hayter alongside him. Cummings gets to the edge of the box, draws the defender and plays the perfect ball to Hayter, who places the ball wide of Dibble’s left hand. For an agonising second it seems that the ball will hit the post – it does, but only on its way into the net. 6-0. Two minutes twenty seconds from the first goal to the last – more than a few players would still have been celebrating their first goal when James was tucking away his third .
Wrexham’s rapidly deteriorating evening almost got worse. In stoppage time Dibble produced a great save to keep out a long-range effort from Browning that was heading for the top corner, and Feeney had a goal disallowed for offside. Subsequent research revealed we had just seen the fastest ever hat-trick in the league, beating the previous record by ten seconds, and probably the second fastest reliably recorded of all time. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer chap – unfortunately his mum and dad left early and missed everything!
AFCB: Moss; Maher, C. Fletcher, Buxton; Elliott, Browning, Purches, Jorgensen, Cummings; Feeney, S. Fletcher (3-5-2)
Subs: Stock (Purches 81), O’Connor (Jorgensen 82), Hayter (S. Fletcher 84), Scriven, Holmes
Richard Barker Leyton