The game, however, started quietly with both teams content to probe each other for weaknesses and get used to the pitch, which incidentally was not as bad as I expected. Passes were going astray from both teams in the first ten minutes, but Maher and Broadhurst had to be alert to early high balls into the box and the intelligent running of Chaplow and Branch. Our first real attack saw Wade bursting down the wing on the right before being unceremoniously tripped by McGreal. Stock's free kick from 25 yards sadly found just the side netting.
Stock then fouled Oster in a similar position at the Cherries’ end which saw him being booked. Result: another wasted free kick thankfully. Elliott then went off on a solo run on around the 15 minute mark which ended with a shot that was synonymous with his shooting all afternoon, as it went well wide and high, with groans from the large travelling support of about 1500.
I was still discussing this move when disaster struck: Wade gave the ball away badly inside the centre circle. A swift exchange of
The Cherries immediately fought back, roared on by a vociferous travelling support, and almost equalized, but Spicer and Hayter contrived to waste what was a sublime move from O’Connor and Cummings. A free kick then from 25 yards out, and both Maher and Browning tried but failed to get a shot in. Again
Next to have a go was Cummings, but his free kick was well gathered by Jensen. Again Wade was in the thick of the action but agonisingly he really didn’t have his shooting boots on. The half ended with a brief respite for
The second period opened with the Cherries attacking towards their fans, but it was
The volume from the travelling Cherries fans was now turned right up as they roared their team on. O’Connor was put in by Stock but volleyed just over the bar. Spicer’s volley from a corner was goalbound but was blocked. Still
The frustration mounted! Still we pressed, O’Connor being set up by a Supa flick-on and Jensen saving with his legs! Next it was Supa's turn, but his header from Elliott’s cross was palmed over. I was beginning to sense it was not to be and dreading an unjust second
Still we pressed, O’Connor having a shot from 25 yards easily saved. With about 4 minutes to go Connell and Holmes came on in a double change for the tired looking Purches and the unlucky Hayter .With injury time beckoning Spicer was set up for a shot by O’Connor but blazed depressingly wide. The final indignity was still to come – route 1 stuff from
Amazingly there was still time for another
Harsh, unbelievable call it what you want but as Steve Cotterill said, "The best team lost".
Brian Stock – immense talent and vision in his passing. I so hope we can see him playing for US in the Championship.
AFCB: Moss, Purches (Holmes 87), Cummings, Broadhurst, Maher, Browning (Fletcher 70), Stock, Elliott, O'Connor, Spicer, Hayter (Connell 87)
Unused subs: Stewart, Howe.