Eddie Mitchell generously funded free travel from Bournemouth but this was little help to those Exiles who had booked their rail tickets before Christmas in order to benefit from the not quite so outrageous fares.
So, considerably out of pocket, we headed north with at least the compensation of ticking off a new ground and the chance to see the lads extend their unbeaten away record.
I’d been told that the b2net stadium, despite having a silly name, was a cut above most of the identikit new grounds but for me it didn’t really live up to its billing. At least though it’s got 4 sides and - wonder of wonders – hot water in the gents!
Bradbury made 2 changes to the side which beat Tranmere at Dean Court. Harry Arter apparently suffered a dead-leg in training and was replaced by Shaun Macdonald, making his first start since his protracted toe injury. Michael Symes, who has yet to reproduce his pre injury form, was replaced by Steven Gregory in a 4-5-1 formation that has served us well away from home.
Bournemouth started quite brightly and early on Marc Pugh had a half-hearted claim for a penalty brushed away by premiership referee Andrea Marriner.
The possession was mainly with the men in ecru but without the sharp snappy passing to which we have become accustomed. Everyone seemed to need at least 3 touches before moving the ball on, leaving the home side plenty of time to get organised in defence.
Two of the better chances fell to Stephen Purches, not the ideal candidate given his scoring record, and both went well wide of target.
Stephane Zubar has quickly become a cult hero in his short time at the club but can be subject to lapses in concentration. One such mistake just before half time saw his poor first touch let in Jack Lester on goal but his shot was well smothered by Flahavan. This was probably the best chance, against the run of play, of a poor first half. H-T 0-0
The deadlock was broken 10 minutes into the second period. Following a spot of pinball just outside the Cherries’ box the ball fell to Ridehalgh who lashed it into the net. If I was being hyper-critical I would say that Flahavan slightly dived under it but it was a fine strike that deserved a goal.
Steve Cook is looking increasingly at home in the centre of defence and, putting his off-field problems to one side, produced another impressive display. He even created one of those ‘you thought you had scored ...’ moments when the away fans briefly believed he had headed the correct side of the post instead of into the side netting.
With the 4-5-1 formation failing to produce any clear cut opportunities Bradders decided to change it around and introduced Symes in place of Purches and switched to 4-4-2. A couple of half-chances followed, with Pugh chipping onto the roof of the net and the home captain Trotman blocking a shot from Thomas.
It was time for the big man and Fletch entered the fray to warm applause from the Spireites fans who still have an affection for him following his brief spell with them.
Even Super Fletch couldn’t make the breakthrough though. With all three strikers at times making the same runs and getting in each other’s way the game faded into a disappointing defeat.
I wonder if we’d have beaten them on the Saturday - at least I’d have been more than £100 better off.
AFCB: Flahavan, Cook, Francis, Zubar, Daniels, Fogden, Gregory, MacDonald, Pugh, Purches, Thomas
Subs: Jalal, Cummings, Carmichael, Symes (on for Purches, 64 mins), Fletcher (for MacDonald, 76 mins)
Clive Loader, Basingstoke