March 29 Hartlepool United 0-0 AFC Bournemouth Att: 5625

Last updated : 31 May 2003 By Clive Loader
An observer who didn’t know which team was which would have assumed that this was Bournemouth as they totally dominated the game against the league leaders without getting the vital win to boost our promotion hopes.

With new signings Scott McDonald (released by S***hampton) and Phillip Gulliver (on loan from Middlesbrough) on the bench, Wade Elliott came back to the right wing position moving Purches into the middle and O’Connor in left midfield with Cummings behind him.

‘Pool had former Cherry Gordon Watson returning from a broken leg and he did surprisingly well considering he already looked past-it when he was with us.

The Cherries opened brightly and the first chance came when Elliott flicked on a Purches cross only to find nobody on the end of it.

Watson had the first attempt on goal for the home side when a snap shot from the edge of the box forced Neil Moss into the first of a number of fine saves (although not as many as Anthony Williams in the Monkeyhangers’ goal).

Williams saved a goalbound attempt from Hayter after a Cummings cross and the Cherries, playing some fine passing football, went close again when Elliott put a Steve Fletcher flick-on just wide on the half hour mark.

Despite the Boscombe domination Hartlepool almost opened the scoring when a dodgy punch from Moss fell to Clarke. Mossy though redeemed him self with a fine reaction save from the resulting shot.

Elliott again came close just before the interval with a curling shot which just went the wrong side of the post.

H-T 0-0

The visitors kept up the domination as the second period started with O’Connor having one attempt saved and one shot curling just the wrong side of the post. Danger man Eifion Williams, following a quiet first half, then came close twice only to be denied by saves from Moss but these were just brief interludes in the Cherries territorial domination.

On 70 minutes Cummings deep cross from the left was met by Big Fletch’s head and Elliott latched on to crash the ball against the bar. We were beginning to think it wasn’t to be our day. It was Elliott’s last attempt in a fine performance as Scott McDonald came on to make his debut to replace him shortly afterwards. One of the Aussie’s first touches found Steve Fletcher in front of goal only for it to be blocked on the goal line and scrambled away.

The strong and lively McDonald then had a chance himself after losing his marker and shooting from the edge of the box, only for the overworked Williams in the Hartlepool goal to pull off another fine save.

With time running out Cherries suffered a couple of late scares as Watson had a 'goal' ruled out for offside and Moss reprieved us from a defeat that would have been a travesty with a great save from a 30 yard volley from Tinkler.

Overall a highly entertaining 0-0 dominated by some excellent goalkeeping but one where the Cherries should really have turned their excellent football into the result we desperately need. Definitely 2 vital points dropped.

This just left a 6 hour train journey home via the delightful Thornaby-on-Tees (and, just to rub it, in the clocks go forward tonight).


AFCB: Moss, Cummings, Buxton, Young, Carl Fletcher, Elliott (McDonald 74), Purches, O'Connor (Thomas 85), Browning, Hayter, Steve Fletcher.
Subs Not Used: Tardif, Gulliver, Holmes.
Clive Loader, Wimbledon