March 27 Rushden & Diamonds 0-3 AFC Bournemouth

Last updated : 29 March 2004 By Ray Brown
I had been expecting a repeat of the close-run affair last March when we were unlucky to go down 2-1 to a late penalty. However, this season we’ve benefited from the latest rotation of the financial wheel of fortune – so despite attending wearing a pair of DM’s (made in UK) we were deprived of seeing Onandi Lowe terrorise our defence for the fourth time in 18 months. As you will probably know he, ex-Pompey Paul Hall, captain Paul Underwood and Marcus Bignot all departed Nene Park by Transfer Deadline Day. No wonder the stadium announcer mispronounced the stadium as None Park during the warm-up.

We were missing two automatic choices – Carlwyn Fletcher (suspended) and Marcus Browning (tweaked groin) but this gave a start for our third “Welshman” Brian Stock with Karl Broadhurst partnering Shaun Maher in defence. Good to see Neil Young on the bench… alongside Wade, Derek, Jace and Ginger Rodgers (aka Garreth O’Connor).

We played well in the opening exchanges. Stock nearly picked out a run from midfield by Jorgensen (6 minutes). Fletch fired a cross-shot wide that Feeney nearly poked home. Good work from Feeney set up Hayter who dragged wide from a tight angle (22). Fletch also headed wide.

However, some complacency at the back was almost punished twice - Jack could’ve scored with a snap shot but put it wide and Hunter put a free header over. Kitson got away with an elbow on Hayter but was booked after his third niggly foul (he didn’t re-appear after the break). Fletch also sustained head damage and re-appeared with fetching bandage – maybe that improved his play.

We took the lead with a great move, Fletch and Hayter put Feeney away on the left and he picked out the unmarked Stock at the back post who calmly fired past Turley into the far corner (37). OK right-back Roget was off the pitch at the time (trying to find a clean shirt!) but R&D were probably better off without him! As someone close-by said “a typical 1970’s style footballer” which I took to mean all size and no skill! The Cherries’ fans half-time mood was less anxious than I’d witnessed for a while – helped by L**ds 4-1 defeat at Brum.

HT: 0-1

The second half began with some great passing from us. Within minutes Fletch had treated us to some superb footwork (honestly!) that set Jorgy racing towards the box. With Feeney decoying in the inside left channel, Claus was able to find Hayter in yards of space to the right and James slipped the ball under Turley for 2-0 (48). Cue great celebrations from the players.

Soon it was three as a stray defensive pass was latched onto and Hayts sent Feeney away this time. He rounded Turley easily and slipped home the clincher (57). Fantastic!

In fact Feeney’s pace gave the Rushden backline all sorts of problems all game long until he was substituted late on by Holmes. By this time Tindall and O’Connor (what have you done with your hair Garreth?) had replaced the superb Jorgy and Broadhurst (who had been pole-axed in our area at one stage).

We took our foot of the gas and the introduction of the young right winger Kelly now gave Cummings something to think about, but Kelly flattered slightly as he managed a couple of tame shots but no killer cross. Maher was booked for kicking the ball away needlessly that allowed Hunter to have a pot at goal with the advanced free-kick: well wide. Cummings was scythed down late – yellow card for the frustrated Diamond.

Late on Holmes headed wide following more good work by Super but Edwards did have him in a bear hug at the time.

I thought the ref was OK, especially as he kept turning down Rushden’s appeals – their fans seem to think that they have a right to be given a penalty for just getting the ball into the opposing penalty box. Well, it worked last season but this time they had no Lowe and no “homer” to rescue them. Rushden will probably re-organise themselves better for forthcoming games – if not they could still go down.

For us, it’s up to sixth following a second successive away victory and the tantalising prospect of back-to-back play-off participation.

Steve Fletcher shades it from Feeney and Jorgy – some superb hold-up play and one outside of the boot first-time flick on to Feeney that was Bergkamp-esque! (But he still heads over the bar too often!)

AFCB: Moss, Buxton, Maher, Broadhurst (Tindall 75), Cummings, Purches, Stock, Jorgensen (O'Connor 75), Hayter , Feeney (Holmes 83), S.Fletcher
Subs not used: Young, Elliott
Ray Brown Olney, Bucks