Jan 6 AFC Bournemouth 1-0 Brentford Att: 5782

Last updated : 07 January 2007 By Andy Burton
What a key game this was ...... 4th bottom vs bottom of League One - a key relegation 6-pointer if ever there was one.

As early as the 3rd minute, a great cross from Anderton found its way to Browning whose shot was clearly handed and diverted for a corner. The bench went mad, just about everyone in a red and black shirt on the pitch crowded the ref appealing for the pen - but it wasn't given. From the resulting corner Fletcher rose highest, Howe pushed the ball goalwards, only to see the ball cleared off the line.

Brentford pushed forward, but they weren't prepared to come up against new loan signings Lawson and Wilson, who, despite their tender 19 years, were more than good enough. Some crucial challenges prevented several crossed coming in from the Brentford right throughout the afternoon.

Having been critiscised in recent weeks, it was clear that Steve Fletcher was more than up for the match. He challenged and ran his legs off all over the park.

The ref seemed to miss seeing every blatent shirt tug and obstructing challenge on a Bournemouth player, and was loathed (it seemed) to use his whistle at times. I lost count how many hand balls, shirt tugs and general man handling the ref let them get away with. Only cynical challenges seemed to be given.

Meanwhile the Brenford back 4, including Adam Griffiths, was woeful to say the least - shame we couldn't put them under greater pressure and really test them. Instead, we were happy to let them come back at us and put our back line under pressure! Thankfully their crosses and corners were just as bad as ours have been this season!

Marc Wilson made his mark on the game, not only through his challenges, but also with a key clearance off the line when a Brentford goal seemed likely.

The ref decided that he'd had enough of the cynical treatment Brentford were dishing out and actually awarded us a free kick, that lead to Fletcher being man handled by three players on the edge of the box - another free kick. From that Anderton curled the ball around the wall (which was not back 10 yards) for the opening goal of the game 3 minutes before the half time break. No more than we deserved at this stage!

They might have been one-down, but Brentford push for an equaliser, but found no way past our back line - Eddie Howe and Neil Young was pivotal in keeping Brentford out.

HT: 1-0

Early in the seconf half, Bournemouth should have made it two .... from a Purches long throw, Browning should have scored, but somehow missed from 6 yards. We also saw, for the first time, how poor the Brentford keeper was .... he decided to try and punch the ball when a catch would have been easier.

Steve Fletcher should have made it two when a great cross from the right was met by his firm header downwards, only to see the keeper make a remarkable save down to his right hand side.

Pitman could have made it two when a great cross from Lawson went across the face of the Brentford goal in the 64 minute. Pitman's slide wasn't early enough to connect for what would have been a certain goal.

A good move from Anderton, fed the ball through to Hayter and Pitman, which saw Hayter upended inside the box. The ref waited until his assistant to flag for the pen - I doubt that the ref was going to give it!

Jamie Hayter should have made it two from the penalty spot. Sadly his spot kick was at just the right height as the keeper guessed to go the right way to save the effort.

The miss in the 74th minute spurred Brentford on to try and claim an equaliser. Just for once either the back line held its' own, or was met by some outstanding saves from Neil Moss who had to make several first class saves at full stretch - even with 4 added minutes!

All in all, a much better performance than we saw before Christmas and such a relief to get back to back wins for the first time in a long time! More of the same required to save our League One skins!

Man Of The Match
My man of the match could have gone to anyone of five players. Steve Fletcher for his running and hassling of the opposition, Lawson and Wilson for assured debuts, Eddie Howe for a resolute display in defence. But my nomination has to go to Neil Moss for some outstanding saves towards the end of the match to preserve 3-points and a clean sheet.

AFCB: Moss, Young, Howe, Purches, Lawson, Wilson, Anderton, Browning, Fletcher, Hayter, Pitman
Subs: Stewart, Cooke, Sainsbury, Hollands (on for Anderton, 80), Gowling (on for Lawson, 88)
Andy Burton, Portsmouth