March 5 Reading 2-2 AFC Bournemouth Att: 13538

Last updated : 07 March 2002 By Rob Mann
Bournemouth started the game looking like they expected to lose and had hardly touched the ball when Reading took the lead in the 4th minute .In fact they could have been behind before then with a couple of near misses! Back to the goal - which had a large slice of luck - with a Jamie Cureton free kick taking a wicked deflection off our wall and totally wrong footing Gareth Stewart. 1-0 to Reading.

The goal prompted an avalanche of Reading attacks with 25 minutes of virtually incessant pressure, near misses, great saves by Stewart and woeful finishing - despite the large travelling Bournemouth contingent vainly trying to get the team playing. Notable moments to me were a bullet header by Cureton brilliantly saved by Stewart on 11 minutes, two glaring misses by Forster, an awful miss by Cureton and Nicky Shorey forcing a great save by Stewart and then seeing his chip from the resulting corner hit the bar.

After about half an hour we able to draw breathe as our midfield at last managed to touch the ball and string a few passes together. Feeney even was able to set up Holmes in an odd attack which saw a rasping volley well saved by Whitehead. The half time whistle was greeted by relief by our fans.

HT 1-0

In all honesty we should have been level within a minute of the restart ,a brilliant pass by O’Connor put Feeney away, a great ball from the byline found Holmes free. He should have scored but contrived to hit the Reading keeper with the net beckoning.

But two minutes later we were level, with Hayter picking up a poor defensive clearance by Viveash and curling a great finish into the corner of the net. 1-1. The Cherries travelling support went absolutely berserk, with a mini pitch invasion causing great consternation among the Reading stewards!!

It was now all Bournemouth with the Cherries looking unrecognisable from the first 30 minutes of the game. Eddie Howe came agonisingly close with a shot from a corner that went inches wide. On 70 minutes Wade Elliot looking a bit more like his old self beat two Reading defenders and cracked a wicked shot that came back off the post.

Then on 71 minutes - 7th heaven: 2-1 to Bournemouth. An inswinging corner by Hayter was met by an unstoppable header by Derek Holmes who soared above the Reading defence to make up for his earlier miss.

Sadly the next goalmouth action was a Reading equaliser on 79 minutes making the scoreline 2-2. A pinpoint cross by Salako gave Reading’s Andy Hughes time to beat Stewart with a firm header. But back roared Bournemouth with Feeney forcing a great save from Whitehead from the edge of the area when he found space despite the attentions of three defenders.

Then on 90 minutes it was that man Feeney again, put away by Eddie Howe and then being brought down by John Mackie. I thought that Wade would score but sadly he didn’t and I hope the miss which was blazed over the bar will not be an extra nail in our relegation coffin! There was still time for Jamie Cureton to hit the junction of post and bar from 30 yards with an exquisite curler - I for one could hardly look as the rebound was hacked clear.

The final whistle went to the sad scene of Wade Elliot in tears and the rest of the Cherries plus the supporters trying hard to lift him, and gasps of disbelief as news of wins for Notts County, Northampton and Wrexham came through. On a positive note though to finish with: if we can reproduce the 2nd half performance for 90 minutes and do it for a few games then WE WILL SURVIVE!

Warren Feeney

This Saturday's key games:
AFC Bournemouth v Northampton Town
Bristol City v Cambridge United
Bury v Notts County
Wrexham v Brentford

AFCB: Stewart, Maher, Young, Howe, Purches, Elliott, Tindall, O'Connor, Hayter, Holmes, Feeney
Subs: Menetrier, Thomas, McAnespie (for Young on 58 mins), Ford, Eribenne (for Feeney on 90 mins)
Rob Mann, Newton Abbott