March 16 Tranmere Rovers 0-0 AFC Bournemouth Att: 7829

Last updated : 19 March 2002 By Pete Wicks
I’d been once before in the mid-80’s; the rebuild since is decent. Menetrier for Stewart, otherwise unchanged, with the Salisbury kid goalie Bittner on the bench.

We kicked off towards their home end, on a pitch with mud from goal-line to goal-line. Rovers forced 3 corners in the first 5 minutes, plus 2 attempts deflected into Menetrier’s hands. Thornton pulled their strings, not Koumas; the transfer to WBA had not gone through and all match he was barely any better than any other player. But then, if colleagues fail to respond, you look mediocre. Our first corner on 6 minutes saw a header way past the far post, but Elliott made a superb run with the shot pushed round for a corner. Cherries put in clean defensive tackles; Rovers were well-organised. Howarth had a header just wide, and Holmes was getting up well to Menetrier’s clearances. Then his head took a knock and he left the pitch briefly. Elliott’s overhead confused defender & keeper, but Feeney’s hooked shot was high & well wide.

Holmes put in a nutmeg and careened up the right wing; from his pass Elliott shot at the keeper. Elliott returned the compliment; Holmes’ shot from inside-left also went at the goalie. Holmes was also an asset in defence; he really is coming to terms with Div.2 play. The plenipotentiary in the green jersey decided to yellow Tindall – bit harsh. Another plus for us was Cooke – more purposeful and integrated than Melligan had been. But why sign him when we’d just signed Thomas? Both sides were workmanlike with flashes; the half-time 0-0 was about right.

From the restart, Feeney tussed with the keeper and had to go off with a hip problem. He lost a half-yard of pace from that. Corners led to tussles in our area, with a shot and header going to Menetrier. Then a typical Boscombe break, with Young and Cooke linking. The ball came over to an isolated Holmes, inside-left just outside the 6-yard box. His left-foot shot across the keeper went agonisingly wide. He and we held heads in hands; we all knew that was The Chance. Then he was tackled badly by Yates, who was only yellowed. Cooke was felled just outside their area; he grabbed for the ball and planted the free on the angle – superb. Koumas was yellowed for that tackle. Several of his colleagues were rejects from the Everton & Liverpool youth systems, and here were just scufflers.

We were playing more flowing footie, but it was getting a bit tasty. Feeney chased everything as always, and Rovers had 3 corners from deflections and clearances. Cooke was twisting and turning like Elliott. Winning midfield, we had a corner leading to pinball in the area. Then we became too eager to just thump it forward, and Rovers regained the momentum as we sat back. Hughes replaced Cooke on 74 between the award, & taking, of a corner to Rovers. The ref. was giving everything. Young, back to his old self, broke up a move superbly but crossed poorly to Feeney who was then offside. Feeney and Hughes had pot-shots, and Kandol swapped for Feeney on 89. Menetrier made a flying save – a little theatrical, perhaps to prove a point. His kicking had been iffy all match, but handling was fine. Rovers hit the bar, then Hughes linked well with Elliott but put over a poor cross. Hayter’s main contribution was to be yellowed late on as we soaked up pressure.

The final score of 0-0 was about right, but then we heard about the Notts County and Northampton wins, so back down to 22. Much mutual applause at the end for a hard-fought, and deserved, point.

AFCB: Menetrier, Young, Howe, Maher, Tindall, Cooke, Elliott, Purches, Hayter, Feeney, Holmes.
Subs: Tittner, McAnespie, Thomas, Hughes (for Cooke on 73 mins), Kandol (for Feeney on 87 mins)
Pete Wicks, Greenford