Jan 4 FA Cup Third Round AFC Bournemouth 0-0 Crewe Alexandra Att: 7252

Last updated : 08 January 2003 By Rob Mann
The match started with Cherries captain Carl Fletcher sadly losing the toss and being forced to attack the North Stand. Crewe survived a first half battering from the Cherries, which if it was not for woeful finishing would have surely seen the game won by half time. Some of the passing moves were brilliant and the Crewe midfield were left chasing shadows with Elliott and Thomas causing the Railwaymen real problems down the flanks.

And now for some of the particularly noteworthy misses of the first half: an early header from Soupa Fletch from a Danny Thomas free kick 6 yards out of the area on the right which cleared the bar. The best from SOUPA was still to come! A perfect cross from Danny Thomas saw Soupa unmarked 8 yards from goal – for reasons only known to himself he elected to use his feet when a header should have sufficed. Showing superb skill, Big Fletch managed to put the ball over the North Stand much to the disbelief of every Cherries fan in the ground. Many around me had their head in their hands – it was that bad!

Wade, the wizard, joined in the selection of first half misses with two that spring to mind: a weak shot from a high ball was easily held by Ince in the Crewe goal. Then a superb move by Elliott and Young finished with a rasping cross shot from Elliott that went narrowly wide. Hayter joined in the fun – clean through on goal, he hesitated and didn’t even get a shot in. And we play him in front of Feeney!

HT 0-0

For me the second half was a big let down. The Crewe midfield stepped up their game and stopped our passing game. A big plus for me was Chris Tardif. I felt the confidence and handling he showed in the second half boded well for the rest of the season. He looked like he had been in goal for us for ages as he saved us from defeat on two occasions. Firstly he pushed a vicious in-swinging corner which had goal written all over it over the bar to safety and then he pushed behind a shot from David Vaughan that was going in.

Two sublime bits of skill by Wade Elliott stand out in the second half: a mazy run which saw him put three Crewe defenders out of the game, but the shot was woeful - yards wide. The second about ten minutes from time: a blistering shot from around 25 yards which Ince tipped behind for a corner at full stretch.

The game then petered out as a spectacle. The last 3-4 minutes saw Feeney and Holmes playing together and we put some serious pressure on without creating any clear-cut chances and with the Crewe defence kicking it anywhere. Feeney on his own was ineffective for the ten minutes before Holmes came on to replace Big Fletch. The closing minutes saw an injury to Neil Young - time will tell how serious it is - Narada coming on in his place.

The final whistle went to muted applause and a real sense of what might have been. Myself and many around me in the North Stand feel starting with Feeney and Holmes in this game would have not meant a final score of 0-0 and an unwanted replay.

Wade Elliott

AFCB: Tardif, Young (Narada 89), Purches, Tindall, C Fletcher, Browning, O'Connor, Elliott, Thomas, S Fletcher (Feeney 75), Hayter (Holmes 88).
Subs not used: Petterson, Stock
Rob Mann, Newton Abbot