Jan 1 AFC Bournemouth 3-2 Brentford Att: 8072

Last updated : 02 January 2005 By Richard Butler
Right from the off, Elliott turned another unfortunate left back inside out so completely he was left on his backside while Wade swept in an inviting cross that Fletcher was just unable to connect with. Better luck a few minutes later with another run, a whipped-in cross, two bites of the cherry and Big Steve Fletcher pokes in the opener.
Bournemouth played a superb quick and confident passing game in wet conditions that suited that style of play. The Bees were chasing shadows and a little while later also chasing a 0-2 score line. Yet another inspired run and pinpoint cross from Elliott allowed Steve Fletcher to power a fine diving header inside the left-hand post. Big celebrations in proximity of the travelling Bees contingent.

Whispers, albeit happy, jokey references about a possible hat trick... "it's not even half time yet".

Rest of the half saw a dominant home team win and keep most of the ball. Connell had the ball in the net, offside, and a truly amazing dribble from Cummings from deep inside his own half nearly brought a sensational third. Approaching half time, Fletcher, played through one-on-one from a tight angle, instead of going for goal did the right thing and touched it inside for Young who somehow skewed wide of an open goal.

HT: 2-0
Within five minutes of the halftime whistle, the Brentford players were back in the centre circle sheepishly doing exercises, obviously in the Dog House. Still, it appeared to have paid dividends as soon after the restart, Rankin had pulled one back. An overhead kick caught in the wind and fluked into the net.

58th minute, 15 years of hurt, well not quite! But momentous all the same:
From a corner and a high and deep Alan Connell cross, Big Steve Fletcher rises like a salmon, high above the opposition, arches his back... strains his neck muscles... focuses his target and....b a a m! Just under the crossbar, the back of the net ripples, the crowd let out a scream and a howl. Fletch runs to the East Stand, shirt over his head, pointing, screaming and disappearing under his teammates. Stuff dreams are made of..... for him and for us.
Soon after, the Bees are back in it with an inspiring 25 curling shot into the corner from Rankin, again. 3-2. The Bees push everyone forward to chase an unlikely point. Good substitution from SOD introducing Browning for Connell, and moving Spicer upfront. Within a few moments of this move, Spicer had brought a great saved from Nelson and would surely have finished a great move just after, when Elliott's pass was intercepted. Spicer would look good in any position, I suggest
A lot of Brentford pressure, some good interceptions from Browning in particular, Purches on for O'Connor and then the final whistle. Big Fletch's hat trick results in three points, thus cueing real celebrations. Steve puts the match ball under his shirt, staggers to all 4 sides of the ground and gathers riotous appreciation.
What next? Promotion? Don't bet against it...

Steve Fletcher

AFCB: Moss, Cummings, Maher, Broadhurst, Young, O'Connor, Stock, Spicer, Elliott, Fletcher, Connell
Subs: Stewart, Browning (on for Connell, 67), Purches (on for O'Connor, 85), Rodrigues (on for Spicer, 92), Holmes

Richard Butler, Chertsey
First Hat Trick Of Career!