Once the game started, the next "low" wasn't long in coming: with just three minutes on the clock, the Cherries, with Brian Stock given a rare start and Wade Elliott and Garreth O'Connor on the bench, conceded an unnecessary free kick near the left touchline, Lewis Buxton being the offender. Lambert made a pretty weak attempt at swinging the ball in right-footed, but it got through to Karl Broadhurst who failed to clear, leaving Wilbraham with the easiest of tap-ins. A sloppy goal, and the Hatters, who hadn't won at home all season, were one up.
Hopes were raised briefly a couple of minutes later when a Warren Feeney thunderbolt appeared to be goal-bound, only for Myhill to make a spectacular save at the expense of a corner. The next half an hour or so was fairly mediocre stuff with neither side able to create clear-cut chances and too many passes going astray in the final third. However, as half-time approached I still felt that, with a little reorganisation, a one goal deficit could easily be turned around after the break.
However, Stockport were starting to grow in confidence and began to mount their only bit of sustained pressure of the entire game. We found ourselves defending deeper and deeper until, in the 41st minute, Lambert floated a free-kick in from the right and Buxton blatantly (and inexplicably) hauled Wilbraham to the ground, giving the ref no option but to award a penalty. No argument from the players. Moss nearly saved Lambert's spot kick, but for the second game in succession the Cherries left the field at half-time trailing by two goals.
After an indifferent start to the second period, we began to take control of the game and created a couple of chances, including a Brian Stock free-kick (deflected over) and a volley by Hayter that cleared the bar. Despite our dominance, the hosts still looked dangerous on the break and Moss had to make an excellent save to deny Lescott.
However, our pressure told in the 67th minute when Stock floated over a free kick, Carl Fletcher headed goalwards and James Hayter was on hand to bundle the ball into the net.
By now there was only one team in it, and there was highly vocal support from the travelling fans as we went for the equaliser. On the 76th minute mark, Stock crossed accurately for Supa at the far post and the Big Man picked out Warren Feeney with a perfect downward header. Feeno took just one touch before cracking a low shot into the far corner of the net. A superb strike for his eighth goal of the season. Delirious celebrations ensued on and off the pitch.
At this point we looked the more likely to snatch a win, but joy turned to despair just six minutes later we again defended poorly against a Hatters' attack down our left flank. Cummings let Wilbraham get past him far too easily and the striker crossed low for substitute Barlow to score with his first touch – a scuffed shot, but so close to goal he could hardly miss.
We tried to hit back immediately and Myhill was almost embarrassed by a low shot from Stock. Browning and Elliott also had chances, but failed to get in a telling shot.
Into injury time, and game took a bizarre turn. A hoof downfield by the home team appeared to be bouncing straight through to Moss on the edge of his box when the chasing Barlow extended the Hand to God to nudge the ball round the keeper and run it into an empty net. Incredibly, neither the ref nor the linesman saw the divine intervention and the goal was given – despite the protests of our team who were understandably incensed at the officials' lack of visual acuity (not to mention Barlow's blatant cheating). Several minutes of jostling between both sets of players ensued before the game could be restarted. But just as the Cherries were about to kick off again, the ref was seen to be consulting the 4th official. He then pointed to the spot where the infringement had occurred and proceeded to book Barlow for deliberate hand-ball. I've never seen a "goal" chalked off like that before.
Unfortunately, once the game was restarted there was little time for the visitors get the second equaliser that their second half performance deserved and the game ended with the Cherries' fans and players feeling somewhat aggrieved.
Two defeats in a row and five goals conceded. Clearly we have to cut out the sloppy goals, but once again we've played worse than this and won games. After this game many people were expressing the view that having to accommodate Buxton has unsettled the defence. That remains to be seen, but he was not the only culprit today.
AFCB: Moss, Buxton (Elliott 56), C.Fletcher, Broadhurst, Cummings, Purches, (Tindall 87), Browning, Stock (O'Connor 87), Hayter, S Fletcher, Feeney
Subs not used: Stewart, Maher
Ellis Griffin, Chertsey