March 30 Notts County 2-0 AFC Bournemouth Att: 9014

Last updated : 03 April 2002 By Ellis Griffin
County's biggest crowd of the season watched their in-form side quickly get into their stride against a Boscombe team bereft of its captain, Eddie Howe. The mainstay of our defence had just been snapped up by Harry Redknapp like a shrewd punter at the Great Spring Clearance Sale. Right from the start, Stephen Purches at left back looked shaky against Cas, and Allsopp had the beating of Jason Tindall who seemed unable to judge the bounce of the ball. From a corner, Richard Hughes had to head a Fenton header off the line with Gareth Stewart nowhere. At the other end, our only chance of note was when Carl Fletcher cut in on the right by-line to set up Warren Feeney, but the NI international totally mishit his shot. Stephen Cooke managed a couple of lively runs at the opposing defence, but his final shot was tame in every case.

We seemed to have ridden out the early storm when Shaun Mayer decided to give the home side their Easter present. In the 27th minute, while my attention was distracted by the antics of the County stewards who had all the demeanour of bar-room brawlers, Mayer (apparently) fluffed a back-pass which was seized upon by Allsopp. When I looked up, he was just flicking the ball past Stewart and I watched it roll ever so slowly across the goal with just enough momentum to creep inside the far post.

Any hopes of a quick riposte by the Cherries soon faded as the Magpies remained firmly in control. By the interval, we could count ourselves lucky not to be three down.

HT 1-0

The second half was a painful spectacle. Time and again the ball was punted hopefully upfield for Feeney to chase, but Fenton & Co. were rarely troubled. Wade Elliott made a couple of his trademark runs at the home defence, but made the mistake of trying to play in Derek Holmes, whose pace and control made Superfletch look like Van Nistelrooy.

With 70 minutes gone, the manager took off Cooke, arguably our most lively attacker, and brought on Amos Foyeya who, in fairness, began to look capable of making things happen. However, nothing materialised and to make matters worse the referee started penalising our players for almost every challenge as their desperation mounted.

The home side finally put us out of our misery three minutes from the end when Allsopp raced away and confidently hammered the ball past Stewart.

This was a crushing defeat given our position in the league and in all honestly we didn't deserve anything from the game. We were rarely first to the ball and totally without attacking ideas. The players kept looking towards the bench - for what, I wonder? Leadership on the pitch is what is needed now. And a miracle…

The little lad who scored our goal in the half-time five-a-side.

AFCB: Stewart, Young, Purches, Tindall, Maher, Elliott, C Fletcher, Hughes, Cooke, Feeney, Holmes
Subs: Menetrier, Foyewa (for Cooke on 69 mins), Stock (for Hughes on 82 mins), McAnespie, Thomas (for Young on 82 mins)
Ellis Griffin, Chertsey