May 8 Brentford 1-0 AFC Bournemouth Att: 9485

Last updated : 09 May 2004 By Pete Wicks
We kicked off towards their end; Boscombe in all sky-blue, & several beach balls bouncing around our end. Line-up as home to Stockport, except Purches for Elliott. A pity Bees weren’t safe – I’d’ve wanted us to play 2-3 kids. Bees’ under-arm white area looked daft ballooning in the wind, so I dread to think how our black stripes will look on next season’s strip.

Even-stevens for the first 10 minutes, with Young continuing his fine form of last week. By the 25th, no shots on target at either end. Then we had a corner, resulting in a glanced header kicked off the line by the post. Soon after, Stock was near the but when the ball came over he scuffed it straight to the keeper. Holmes’s principal contribution to the half was an overhead left-foot clearance. Browning’s header looped up for an easy catch, & Bees’ first corner (on 45) was well-cleared. HT 0-0 was fair.

O’Connor’s shot was deflected for a corner, then Bees had a free when their lumpen no.5 slipped going up the right-wing. Stock was rarely in the game, until he flicked up for a left-foot 25-yard volley just wide. We were now playing more cohesive stuff. Even so, Nick pointed out that the Aussie Rules game he saw recently kept the ball down more than this game. Holmes was yellowed for general clumsiness (but that’s what he is!), then put a header wide from a decent flowing move & cross. We recalled his namesake Matty’s super strike one Sunday morning in the early 90’s in the 2-2 here. Buxton for Young on 68. Moss well down to save a snap-shot, with Cummings clearing. Plod removed 2 Boscombe fans who were “over-enthusiastic” in debating with home fans in the nearby stand. They also wrestled a Bees fan to the ground; I’m sure one of Middlesex’s finest had no compunction in using his truncheon. I don’t want to see tossers like that in a football ground – so-called “fans”, or plod who employ methods used on tortured Iraquis.

Hayter was still plugging away up front, with good quality passes. When Cummings was caught in possession, Broadhurst was yellowed for felling the kleptomaniac. The free went wide for a colleague to blast it; Moss dived full-length to palm it away brilliantly. After Bees’ 2 cleared corners, Boscombe’s 20-odd consecutive pass sequence ended with Cummings letting it go into touch under his foot. Elliott replaced Stock on 82. Almost immediately, right-back Dobson put in Rhodes who passed across Moss & inside his right-hand post. 1-0, 83; Rhodes used to play for Newmarket Town in the Ridgeon’s League - & we weren’t at the races. Elliott gave us a display of 1-touch football: his one (& only) touch was an intended put-through for Hayter. O’Connor’s left-footer from inside-right just went straight to the keeper, & his next attempt hit a hand but no pen. More huff’n’puff but all powder-puff. FT: 1-0.

Bees wanted it more; our (usually) controlled & coherent play was not enough. A certain symmetry to the season: we lost the first & last aways by 1 goal, & drew the first & last homes. As usual, excellent beer (inc. Belgian - & Welsh cider) at the Magpie and Crown, and a curry across the road. This was the perfect environment to ruminate over the season. We’d over-achieved given the thinness of the squad; O’Driscoll had returned us to where we were when he took over so is that a plus in his favour in such circumstances? Look what Rosenior’s done at Plainmoor – Torquay promoted in 3rd place this same afternoon. (And hey, I’ve never seen Boscombe @ Belle Vue!) Consensus that only Moss, C.Fletcher, Cummings’s attacking side (WC’s defending can be toilet), & Hayter (if only he was physically bigger) were really up to this (top-9) level. As I’ve said before, another 2 Carl Fletchers (to add drive to rear & front midfield, as with Parkinson & Holland) are needed desperately, but the decent kids are 2-3 years away. Young & SupaFletch have less than a full season left, & it’s rumoured that Browning & his brother Gravy are to open a bisto.

Manager of the season: Stuart Murdoch, “Wimbledon”. A near-miracle he’s kept his kids playing at all, with his 6-7 best players released, a ludicrous & unacceptable move away from London, appalling financial difficulties & a bunch of shysters on the board. Now I’ve seen Real Wimbledon (AFC’s 1-2 win @ North Greenford) I’m less uncomfortable about seeing us at the hockey stadium next season (depending, that is on Franchise FC surviving that long…).

Hayter for always looking to link, bring others in, & defending in the top third. Hon. mention for Moss for 2 great saves.

AFCB (4-4-2): Moss; Young (Buxton, 68), C.Fletcher, Broadhurst, Cummings; Purches, Browning, Stock (Elliott, 82), O’Connor; Hayter, Holmes.
Subs unused: Maher, Saadi, Scriven
Peter Wicks, Greenford, Middx.