March 6 Blackpool 2-0 AFC Bournemouth Att: 6184

Last updated : 08 April 2007 By Jack Parker
This was only my second home game of the season (the other being Nott'm Forest) so the exiles should really sponsor me to attend games as another 2-0 win was secured as I revelled in David McGoldrick's glorious left foot volley. It was also an opportunity to visit "in off the post" before the game and given the girth of some of our supporters (I'm in denial here) I wondered if we should re-name the ground the "Fitness Last "stadium. This would perhaps be a suitable epitaph one day to the career of Darren Anderton.

The winding "Virgin cross country" rail journey home gave me plenty of time to reflect on the Cherries and that, despite our parlous state and league position, 2007 is looking a lot better than the previous 12 months. The statistics (the ones that never lie) show Cherries with a meagre 7 wins out of 50 games in 2006 (and only 1 away for us poor Northern exiles) whilst the new year has seen something of a revival and victory against the Tangerines would make it 7 wins in the last 11.

Could this be the start of a new era? Strangely the performance in the 2-1 away victory against Tangerines in 2005/6 promised a bright future but not for the first time hope evaporated in a succession of defeats and loss of confidence (including mine).

The journey home also caused me to reflect on the vagaries of following a club like the Cherries (for 41 seasons) and how "real time" and "football time" become confused. For example this is my first Exiles match report for 17 years (the last being a 2-4 defeat to the Blades in April 1990 just a week before the (we hate you) Leeds fiasco. This seems like yesterday to me, but in the interim my daughter who was 2 years old at the time is now in her first year at (we hate you) Leeds University, which seems a whole lifetime away.

Moving closer to tonight's game (stay with me, I'm getting there) I also have a copy of the Daily Express "World Cup 1966" souvenir issue which features a memorable picture of the full England squad wearing their club shirts. It's a mosaic of the top two divisions of English football at a time long before the Premiership and foreign players, when each First Division club could boast an England international. There is even a picture of one Terry Paine (ex S******) who played so far out on the right wing that when he retired he became a Tory councillor.

All of which anorak stuff brings me to the two Blackpool players in the 1966 squad (a young Alan Ball and not so young Jimmy Armfield) looking resplendent in their glowing Tangerine shirts. How times have changed and how far Blackpool has fallen, especially in the context of the position of their North West rivals, Blackburn and Bolton, the rise of Wigan and lesser revivals of Burnley and the hated PNE.

So I found myself 41 years later, in Blackpool on a cold and blustery Tuesday night. The hardy Cherries travelling fans, numbering no more than 50, were huddled together on the open side of the partly developed Bloomfield Road in the full blast of a strong sea breeze that quickly removed the warmth of the excellent range of Moorhouse Ales in the Pump & Truncheon. As the only exile present in the P&T the thought crossed my mind that the landlord may give me free beer in exchange for being voted Exiles Pub of the Year ( I was open to offers) but for some reason he wasn't interested. Cherries made one change from Saturday, with Purches replacing Vidarsson.

Within a minute of the start Tangerines made their ambitions of a play-off spot clear with a determined and skilful attack ending with Forbes weaving his way into the box and rattling the post with a firm shot. This set the pattern for the next 30 minutes as Cherries, looking lethargic and slow out of the blocks, struggled to contain the opposition who were backed by a drum and vociferous support from the home end. I recorded 7 corners for BP with no reply from us, one of which resulted in a smart Mossy save from Barkers point blank header. Indeed it seemed at times that Mossy was the only thing standing between us and a heavy defeat. Gowling and Broadhurst were under the cosh trying to contain the experienced Tangerines attack. Our cause was not helped when Browning limped off after 17 mins to be replaced by Hollands. Without Anderton and Browning the midfield looked a little thin although Wilson and Cooper were putting themselves about and it was good to see Cummings once again foraging down the left touchline.

Cherries with their backs to the wall could muster only two tame efforts from Wilson and McGoldrick before the inevitable goal came after 35 mins when the former Swansea man Forbes drove home a powerful opener from a Burgess lay off. It was all we deserved really and with only one wasted corner to show it was a grim (and cold) first half. 1-0 to the Tangerines at HT.
Cherries came out in the second half with Hayter replacing Pitman and began more promisingly with better team play and application. However any hopes of an equaliser were dashed on 53 mins when Tangerines doubled their lead in a quick breakaway when Burgess scored with a strong volley across Moss and into the net from a Barker cross. 2-0. The game was now an uphill struggle and the old euphemism about the importance of the next goal came to mind. A third to BP and we faced a landslide but a Cherries goal might change things. As if sensing the possibility (or was it fear of a heavier defeat) Cherries started to be more cohesive and play a bit. As the half progressed Vidarsson replaced the tiring Fletcher on 76 mins and when Hayter eventually found himself with time and space as the game began to slip away, he spurned a good chance to pull a goal back with a shot that grazed the top of the bar.

Cherries were having a real go now and, as ever, you wondered what might have happened with the same effort in the first hour of the game. As the Cherries pressure increased, BP made three substitutions in the 82, 83 and 85 mins to slow things down, and tempers became frayed. This followed on from an Andy Morrell booking for bad tackle on Cummings on 77 mins. I was glad to see Warren back on his feet as we can ill afford to lose him at this stage of the season. The resultant bad feeling (more handbags really) saw bookings for Cummings and McGoldrick and BP held on to deservedly win 2-0 and move to within one point of the last play off spot. On this form they are a strong big side with good forwards and must stand an outside chance of going up.

For Cherries it is back to the struggle against relegation and on this form, at least the first hour, we will go down. It seems after two wins on the bounce the players think they are safe but that is a dangerous assumption in the "dog eat dog" fight against relegation with Leyton Orient and Cheltenham both improving. I am hoping that Rotherham and Brentford are doomed and the slide down the table of Chesterfield and Bradford will be enough to save us. The two games against Rotherham and Bradford will be crucial.

Man Of The Match
As for "man of the match" it was a poor team display and so it must go to Neil Moss for his assured handling and some good saves. Finally, I look forward to doing another Exiles match report 17 years from now, assuming we will have a club to follow and health and finances (and fitness) permitting.

: Moss, Broadhurst, Gowling, Cummings, Purches, Cooper, Wilson, Browning, McGoldrick, Fletcher, Pitman
Subs: Stewart, Young, Hollands (for Browning, 18 mins), Hayter (for Pitman, HT), Vidarsson (for Fletcher, 77 mins)
Jack Parker, Didsbury