Jan 3 Swindon Town 2-1 AFC Bournemouth Att: 7158

Last updated : 06 January 2004 By Stuart Mitchell
Swindon officials obviously don't hold us in the same regard......charging £21 for the privilege of us all being stuffed in the corner of the Arkell Stand. Why? I really cannot understand what makes us different from other clubs. Brighton were given the stand behind the goal 6 days earlier and charged less. Earlier in the season the same situation at Chesterfield but when Wycombe visited Saltergate weeks later with less away support they naturally were given the terrace behind the goal! I think someone needs to investigate!!!

A Jekyll and Hyde match if ever I saw one. Cherries started with a positive and attacking line up. SOD certainly had a picked a side with one thing in mind. To score THAT goal. 3 strikers in Feeney, Supa and Connell with Hayter, O' Connor and Browning in midfield. And didn't it show. Swindon were obviously caught unawares and Bournemouth really went at the home side from the off.

Evans in the Swindon goal saved well from Fletch's header in our first major attack, and after Ifil had fouled Browning 40 yards out, O'Connor floated in his free kick for Marcus to head the ball on and the ever alert Hayter was on hand to flick the ball over Evans into the roof of the net. A fantastic goal after just 5 minutes and the Cherries faithful erupted in jubilant celebrations. A goal almost worth waiting for. It was the best possible start and we looked to add to the goal with some excellent neat passing football. Feeney and Purches had a great 1-2 and we looked dangerous going forward. Suddenly, as quickly as we had the lead though it was gone. A long throw-in from the Swindon left found Mooney and he struck a sweet shot low past Moss's left hand side. 1-1 with 15 minutes gone.

It was an all action game for the rest of the half. Bournemouth definitely had the edge though, with Connell looking superb and giving us a new attacking option. We really should have retaken the lead though on 18 minutes when the lively O'Connor shot just wide from 30 yards and minutes later had a good penalty appeal turned down when Fletch was fouled in the area. O'Connor went on a mazy run after a fantastic dummy from Connell but shot just a yard wide with Evans at full stretch. Another Connell dummy played Hayter down the wing but Purches shot wildly over. Every player was involved in good passing, attacking football played on the ground, which is when we always look our best.
Mooney fired over the bar after a slip by Buxton in a rare Swindon attack. In a great move O'Connor put Connell through but from a tough angle the goalkeeper saved. Maher was marshalling the defence well with Buxton, who made a great interception with Mooney in a great scoring position.

Supa played Feeney through on goal but the goalie again saved well. Hayter then struck a post and shot narrowly wide in our last attack of the half. In fact Swindon came back strongly in the last 5 minutes of the half with Moss taking well from a deep cross, but O'Connor ended the half with a yellow card. To be fair the ref was having a poor game, and missed an off-the-ball incident in which Connell was scythed down. All in all a great half though for the Cherries with great play all round in particular from Connell, O'Connor, Hayter and Browning. I confidently called Dorset during half time preparing all for a possible away win.

HT: 1-1

How wrong I was.

Well, I still cannot decide if it was down to Swindon marking our best players (see above) from the first half out of the game or down to the game plan being switched at half time. If it was the latter then someone made a poor decision. We all know what the best form of defence is....

Swindon went for it, or rather our attacking play from the first half seemed to disappear without trace and left the home team with little else to do but attack. Ex-Pompey midfielder Miglioranzi was supporting Mooney well in regular attacks, with the sought-after Parkin fairly quiet. It was in fact a Bournemouth header that gave Swindon a great chance for the lead on 50 mins when Maher headed the ball when under pressure from 3 yards at Moss who made a fantastic save to see out an almost certain o.g. It was the only real blip for Maher all afternoon who is starting to look really comfortable in Carl Fletcher's absence.

Hayter had a run at goal from Connell's flick on but there was precious little from the forwards. The home fans and players could sense the win. It was creeping in like the fog and darkness around us. There were now visibly 5 players in defence for us and with Connell now tiring he was replaced by Thomas on 71 minutes to good applause from the away contingent. Danny did get in a good cross minutes later but Feeney headed over.

With 10 minutes to go Marcus misplaced a pass and Swindon crossed from the right. Mossy got his hand to it but Mooney send a looping header to the back post and the home crowd seemed to suck it in and in it went off a post. 2-1

Elliott replaced Purches immediately and Bournemouth went in search of the point. Three corners in quick succession saw Maher have his header cleared off the line but as we built up our first real pressure of the second half, Elliott got himself booked and the play was broken. It was all too little too late. We seemed to be looking for the draw again and came away with nothing.

A real shame this result, as the team played so well in the first 45. They played the great passing football we know they can. But second half tactics from both sides put paid to a positive result in our favour.

Moss and Connell deserve mentions but I will award this one to Shaun Maher who marshalled the back four well and will be great to have in the side permanently if he can stay injury-free.

AFCB (4-3-3): Moss; Cummings, Maher, Buxton, Purches (Elliott 82); Hayter, Browning, O'Connor; Connell (Thomas 71), S.Fletcher, Feeney.
Subs not used: Scriven, Saadi, Coutts
Stuart Mitchell, Hampton, Middlesex