Those of us who saw our win at Plainmoor a few weeks ago were amazed that Cummings not only played, but saw out the full 90. The biggest cheer was of course for Eddie. So we had out our fullest-strength side available, in our home strip. FGR kicked-off towards the south end (our left) in black-&-white stripes, & immediately put in a shot – HW&H. Elliott’s long throw “up” the slope led to Cummings’s sliced shot. Indeed, when Elliott was on his wing, his head was barely level with the other touch-line. The Cherries intent was to attack quickly, and had much the better of opening exchanges. But the bumpy pitch made close control very difficult for both sides. Stock would sling the ball forward over-the-top for Elliott to run on to; Elliott would run his full-back & whip in crosses, & on one occasion jinked inside 2 opponents & hit a superb ball towards the corner flag for Spicer to burst past the full-back & make the cross. O’Connor had a shot tipped round & Stock put in a splendid dipped shot that went at the keeper. But Young made a few mistakes, including falling over the ball, although resultant shots went over &/or wide. The FGR 28 fell over & received the brutal soubriquet of “pitch-roller” as Cherries fans commented on his girth. But he made several good forays throughout the game, including skipping through 3 tackles & shooting just wide.
Eventually pressure told. Another Elliott cross came to Supa who in turning his marker slipped but managed to shoot past the keeper from 15 yards, right-footed while sort-of kneeling. Steve “Thierry” Fletcher indeed, to borrow from Andy B. 0-1, 24 mins. Stock continued to show much skill, but FGR came back with commendable spirit. I felt, for much of the game, that there was a bit too much gap between our back 4 & the very attack-minded midfield, & FGR did fill this space effectively. At one point, another Elliott cross saw Supa steaming in with the momentum of a freight train; had he connected with the header the ball would’ve taken the net off its hooks & down the hill into Nailsworth. As it was, the ball went just over his head. But his best work throughout the game – holding up the ball, bringing others into play – was done outside the area. The rest of the half saw more fast attacking from our lot, with all 6 front players taking turns - even Young had a left-footer on target - & FGR digging in & looking to respond.
HT 0-1 was fair.
The 2nd half opened with more good stuff from Cherries, with Hayter & Stock showing lovely skills. But we just couldn’t make it happen in the final quarter. The tall sub. forward, Louis, who I’m sure I’ve seen elsewhere, rose unmarked to a home corner and buried the header. 1-1, 56 mins. Deserved by them for keeping going & having a go, & their spirits rose for the rest of the game. Spicer would make long runs, one superb one ending with a shot just wide, and was felled at the end of another run. From this, 20 yards out, inside-left, Stock put the ball just over the lower angle; had the crossbar been level it would’ve gone in… Hayter had been quietly effective all game until a simple block tackle saw him crumple, stretchered off, & replaced by AC on 66. AC proved a good replacement, making quick links with team-mates.
Louis was about to tap the ball in the net when it bobbled & Young somehow made the clearance; another home shot screamed over the bar. Howe had to make some trade-mark tackles. I can’t help feeling that a more cohesive approach might’ve seen us unpick the home midfield & defence, but let’s give full credit to the home central defence – it cleared everything that came its way. O’Connor had a shot HW&H & was replaced directly by Browning on 86.
In the Social Club after the game, drinking real Marstons Bitter, I met the local fans from the Lord John earlier. They were so proud of their team. One, a Geordie, had been at the Cherries-Newcastle FAC3 game in the early ‘90s. They explained to me that FGR intend to move the ground 150 yards further up the hill, having sold the current one for housing, & intend to have a clause built in that they must occupy the new ground before the old one is lost. OK, we should win the replay, giving a draw home to Gas or
Actually Man of the Week – Eddie Howe for agreeing to return permanently. Let’s hope supporters, having performed their fiduciary duty in trusting in Eddie, can now come up with SpicerShare….
AFCB: Moss, Cummings, Howe, Broadhurst, Young, Elliott, O'Connor, Spicer, Stock, Hayter, Fletcher
Subs: Stewart, Holmes, Maher, Connell (on for Hayter, 66 mins), Browning (on for O'Connor, 86)