Mar 8 AFC Bournemouth 2-0 Darlington Att: 5758

Last updated : 10 March 2003 By Ellis Griffin
But Darlo would surely be no pushover after enjoying some good wins and with us missing key players like Tindall and Feeney. However, I never rate the chances of team playing in grey. Definitely not a positive colour – unless you're an alien, that is…..

Right from the first whistle we took the game to our visitors and had the ball in the net after three minutes when Elliott crossed from the right and Supafletch headed the ball firmly back towards the opposite corner of the goal. We were already celebrating as Marcus Browning followed up to make quite sure. Unfortunately the linesman had raised his flag, presumably because Browning had strayed offside. Would Fletch's header have gone in anyway? I'll need video evidence on that one.

We continued pressing and looked as if we'd been told to shoot at every opportunity, winning several corners. The only things holding us up was the ref who seemed very fussy about minor infringements. The visitors were hardly getting a look-in at this stage, but then nearly took the lead against the run of play after 18 minutes when Pearson crashed a low free kick against the post. That scare aside, it was one-way traffic and the opener finally came after 28 minutes. Following a corner on the left, the ball came to Garreth O'Connor who advanced to the edge of the box before cracking a low right-foot shot that evaded Collett's despairing left hand.

As half-time approached, we had further chances to increase our lead, and Collett was at full stretch to tip a powerful Steve Fletcher shot over the bar. The big man then had an ever better chance, but failed to strike the ball cleanly. Danny Thomas, who had so far had little impact down the left flank, missed a difficult chance as he stretched to meet a right-wing cross to the far post.

HT 1-0

In the early part of the second period, Darlington enjoyed considerably more possession than hitherto, but still failed to trouble Moss who had such an easy afternoon he really ought to report for extra training next week. We were soon firmly in control again, with O'Connor having an outstanding game in midfield and Warren Cummings making some excellent runs down the left and linking better with Danny Thomas who began to show some of the form of which he is capable.

And it was an attack down that flank which inevitably produced our second goal in the 67th minute. The ball was played inside to O'Connor who ran at the retreating Quakers' defence before slipping the ball into James Hayter's path in the inside-left position. Hayter finished clinically with a left-foot shot, putting him level with O'Connor as the club's top goalscorer.

We continued to create chances and could have run up a sizeable score against dejected opponents. Big Fletch should have topped off a typically gritty performance with a goal when he outmuscled a defender to win a lost cause, deftly dinked the ball over him to leave only Collett to beat, but then allowed the keeper to block his shot. Hayter should have done better with the rebound, sending the ball into the car park. The Darlo keeper was soon in action again, this time tipping an Elliott drive round the post for a corner.

So a very comfortable win in the end, and 4- or even 5-0 would not have been a flattering score. The defence was rarely troubled and our passing and movement was excellent at times. No-one had a bad game. Let's hope they can reproduce this form in the difficult away games to come. It's a pity Jermain Defoe hasn't got a few more free Saturdays!

Garreth O'Connor – the best I've ever seen him play.

AFCB: Moss, Purches, Cummings, Buxton, C.Fletcher, Browning, O’Connor (Stock 83), Elliott (Young 86), Thomas, S.Fletcher, Hayter (Holmes 88)
Subs not used: Tardif, Foyewa
Ellis Griffin, Chertsey