Mar 1 Bury 2-1 AFC Bournemouth Att: 2913

Last updated : 05 March 2003 By Richie Barker
The Bury public’s overwhelming apathy towards the prospect of their team narrowing the gap on the automatic promotion places contributed to an afternoon almost wholly lacking in the atmosphere, passion, skill and excitement that you would normally expect from a clash of third versus fourth at this stage of the season.

Bournemouth continued with the wing-back formation. The fit-again Purches replaced Elliott on the right, and with Browning suspended as usual, O’Connor, Hayter and Stock formed a potentially skilful if lightweight midfield.

It all started so promisingly. After an uneventful first 12 minutes Bury rookie ‘keeper Garner somehow contrived to fumble an innocuous shot from Cummings at the foot of the post back across the face of the goal and Feeney got full reward for chasing a lost cause by being on hand to bundle the ball over the line. Bury looked to be a fairly clueless long ball outfit, but they were winning the battle in midfield and as a result too much of the play was taking place in our half. A couple of optimistic penalty shouts for the home team and one good block by Moss was all they had to show for it until the 33rd minute when yet another hoof downfield found its way over our defence and was well controlled and finished by Redmond.

Neither side dazzled with the quality of their attacking play in the second half. Buxton, Tindall and Carl Fletcher looked comfortable again against the long-ball stuff after their first half lapse, while we had a tendency to over elaborate on the rare occasions when we got the ball around the Bury penalty area. Hayter blazed a shot over the bar after good work on the right by Purches, and a deflected Feeney shot had the ‘keeper scrambling across goal to make a save. Tindall picked up a booking after being left exposed when O’Connor lost possession in midfield.

Twenty minutes into the second half Sean took a decision which may prove costly at the end of the season. With the defence largely untroubled by Bury’s sporadic and unsubtle attacking efforts, he opted to replace Buxton with Thomas and switch to a 4-4-2 formation, gambling a fairly certain one point for the possibility of three. With fifteen minutes to go he raised the stakes further, bringing on Elliott for O’Connor. It might have worked, and certainly produced our most enterprising spell of the game as the Bury defenders were slow to adjust to the new attacking threat. Unfortunately the best chance fell to Big Fletch, whose attempt at a shot on the turn with his left foot left you wondering what Holmes might have done in the same situation.

There was always a risk attached in reducing the numbers in a midfield that was struggling against their more muscular Bury counterparts. With seven minutes remaining Clegg was allowed to advance without serious challenge down a left hand side unaccountably vacated by Thomas, and although his shot was as feeble as most of their previous efforts, Moss failed to deal with an awkward bounce and spilled the ball to leave the advancing Cramb with a simple chance. We managed a couple of half chances in the closing minutes but failed seriously to trouble the keeper, wholly in keeping with the rest of our performance. We’ll need at least three more away wins if we are to get automatic promotion and on this showing it will take a lot of good defending and a fair bit of luck to get them.

Carl Fletcher – can we have him cloned, we need him in midfield and defence.

AFCB: Moss; Tindall, C Fletcher, Buxton (Thomas 65); Purches, O’Connor (Elliott 76), Hayter, Stock, Cummings; S Fletcher, Feeney.
Subs not used: Tardif, Young, Holmes
Richie Barker, Leyton