March 22 Gillingham 2-1 AFC Bournemouth Att: 6540

Last updated : 05 April 2008 By Richie Barker
Today the governor was almost as resigned to the Gill's fate as we were to ours, and the conversation revolved around trying to convince ourselves that at least relegation would mean that we'd be visiting nicer towns next season. After a few pints of perry and the usual tasty food the day the day began to look a little brighter.

Naturally any good cheer was soon dissipated once the game began. Seated at the uncovered end of the ground, exposed to hail showers interspersed with flurries of snow for variety, and subject to stewarding that could have caused a riot at a pacifists' convention, leaving the pub was not looking like the best move of the day, an impression compounded when we went behind to a sloppy goal in the ninth minute. Forde opted to punch out a cross it seemed easier to catch, Gillingham switched the attack to our left, Crofts hit a shot from outside the area which took a deflection and Forde could only push the ball into the roof of the net.

Forde redeemed himself somewhat with a good one-on-one save in the 25th minute, but it was soon 2-0 when Miller got the ball to Jackson in the box and he tricked his way rather easily past Gowling and Cooper before sliding the ball between the legs of the advancing keeper.

At this point the stewards' snatch squads rather unwisely turned their attention from the Bournemouth fans to the home supporters, provoking a punch-up which I confess resulted in me missing the build up to our goal. For the record, Gradel crossed from the left and an unmarked Kuffour scored with a side-foot volley from six yards out.

The injured Pitman was replaced by Tessem, prompting a switch to 3-5-2 which seemed to work a lot better than the makeshift back four, with Bradbury at right back and Cooper at left, which we had been playing until then. In the second half the extra man in midfield gave us a measure of control in that area and Gradel began to torment the Gillingham left back. One such piece of trickery from the winger ended in a cross which Vokes met well but Stillie, twisting in mid-air, got just enough on it to keep the ball out and it was scrambled away from the foot of the post. Another cross from Gradel was blocked by the arm of a defender, accidentally according to the referee, and Vokes headed in from a corner but poor execution of our currently favoured corner routine meant that Gradel was in an offside position when he crossed the ball.

It finally looked like our pressure was going to be rewarded when a clever pass from Bartley found Vokes in a scoring position and the youngster went down under minimal pressure from Richards convincingly enough to gain a penalty (that should impress the Premiership scouts), but Gradel's spot kick was saved by the Stillie, who distinguished himself once more before the end with a good save from Kuffour's deflected shot.

This was probably a fatal blow to our negligible chances of avoiding relegation, and maybe not enough to save Gillingham either. In the time-honoured manner the worst of the day's weather descended as we were leaving the ground, and we were pelted by hailstones most of the way to the pub. Do we really do this for fun?

Man Of The Match
Max Gradel - not one of his better days, missed a penalty, but was still responsible for most of our more dangerous attacks.

AFCB: Forde, Gowling, Cooper, Pearce, Hollands, Bartley, Gradel, Bradbury, Pitman, Kuffour, Vokes
Subs: Pryce, Tessem (on for Pitman, 28 mins), McQuoid, Partington (for Bartley, 86 mins), Franks
Richie Barker, Leyton