March 1 AFC Bournemouth 2-0 Hartlepool United Att: 3984

Last updated : 02 March 2008 By Ellis Griffin
After an initial bout of head tennis, the Cherries began to dominate play and create chances with Vokes, Kuffour and Gradel all looking a handful up front. Gradel and Cummings seem to have got their corner routine off pat now, and it was a corner on the right that produced the first goal after just 8 minutes when the Scot whipped in an inswinger which Vokes headed firmly past Lee-Barrett.

The Cherries' domination continued with the visitors offering little in reply. This was due in large measure to the combative Hollands and Bartley in midfield - pity we didn't have that pairing earlier in the season!

The other stand-out feature was the play of Vokes. He looks better in every game and could be a real star if he wants to. It's hard to believe he's only 18, as he leads the line with such skill and power. No doubt we'll sell him for peanuts in due course, but for the moment we can only watch and marvel.

Our defence was rarely troubled in the first period, although Stewart had to be at his best to get in the way of an effort by Foley following a free-kick. In fact Stewart was having one of his best games, looking confident and assured, when disaster struck. In making a decent catch, the stopper appeared to land awkwardly and immediately threw the ball into touch. He was soon stretchered off to be replaced by Pryce. Wretched luck for Stewart who was already playing with a broken finger.

Our dominance continued, however, although it looked as we would only be taking a 1-nil lead into half time. That changed a minute before the break. After good ball-winning work by Kuffour and Bartley the ball broke for Vokes who found himself though on goal. With the 'Pools keeper narrowing the angle, the youngster calmly side-footed past him with just enough curl on the ball to take it inside the far post.

HT: 2-0

Surely we wouldn't throw away a 2-0 lead two weeks in a row? Well, despite the wishes of the fans and doubtless contrary to the manager's half-time talk, we sat back in the second half and invited all the pressure the visitors cared to give us. Fortunately, they weren't very good and despite loads of possession rarely got the better of our back four who all had good games except for Cooper who kept giving the ball away.

Pryce looked confident and dealt comfortably with the shots that came his way. Just as well, because it looks like the job's his for the foreseeable future.

To be fair to Hartlepool, they did have a decent shout for a penalty turned down by the ref towards the end, but that was about it. The main interest when we hit them on the break was whether Vokes would get his hat-trick. The lad was having an excellent game with some strong runs at the visitors' defence, The closest he came was when the Pools' keeper tipped a fierce shot over the bar. On two other occasions when he could have scored, the teenager unselfishly tried to play a colleague in.

Towards the end, Pitman replaced the hard-working Kuffour and Tessem came on for Bradbury. Both made useful contributions, Pitman in attack and Tessem adding strength and height in front of the back four.

Then, at the very end Gradel nearly caused a riot with a piece of outrageous showboating near the visitors' corner flag.

A well-deserved three points which would have taken us clear of the drop zone - were it not for the 10-point deduction!

Man Of The MatchSam Vokes

AFCB: Stewart, Young, Cooper, Gowling, Cummings, Gradel, Hollands, Bradbury, Bartley, Vokes, Kuffour
Subs: Pryce (for Stewart, 40 mins), Pitman (for Kuffour, 64 mins), Tessem (for Bradbury, 72 mins), J Pearce, Partington

Ellis Griffin, Chertsey