Nov 2 AFC Bournemouth 1-0 Bristol Rovers Att: 6924

Last updated : 06 November 2002 By Vinny Goodfield
We started brightly, which is more than can be said for the weather. In just the 2nd minute, attacking the uhhm…4th side, Hayter found himself in an excellent position but shot tamely at the keeper. From the other end of the ground it looked as though the half second Hayter took shifting the ball on to his right may have cost him a scoring bonus. Why professional footballers aren’t happy kicking a ball with both feet I’ll never know.

Then again if our players kicked the ball with two feet it would look a bit bizarre and they would probably fall over all the time.

Not to worry as free-flowing play soon ensured plenty more chances. Elliot, who for me has been ‘hiding’ out on the wing a bit in recent weeks, seemed happier to take responsibility and was having a profitable time out on the right. Thomas and Hayter (again) went close. Young was haring up and down the line to join in with the attack – just like the Neil Young of old.

On 16 minutes, another of Young’s forays into opposition territory bought reward. A lovely cross clipped over from the byline found Steve Fletcher with a bit of space at the back stick.

Now this is the moment where I usually berate Fletcher for wasting another good opportunity.

However, things have changed recently and our gargantuan forward seems to have developed an unusual habit of scoring goals. A downward header that Shearer would have been pleased with followed. 1-0 to the reds.

Pleasingly, we did not let up and went on the hunt for more goals. Elliot and Young were combining well on the right, and Thomas looked lively on the left, even if he does appear to shirk somewhat when the tackles start to fly about. Pleasing also was the fact that the side passed and moved pretty much the whole game without too much of the ‘lump it up to Fletch’ tactics.

Rovers didn’t really do much in the first 45, nothing that I can remember anyway. Then again I am writing this 3 days later and have already forgotten what I had for dinner yesterday.

During the 2nd 45 and Rovers made a bit more of a fist of it. Grazioli came on, you know that bloke that scored for Stevenage against Newcastle a couple of years ago. He looked lively but in reality did not have much to play off.

Save of the match went to the Rovers keeper Howie that spectacularly deflected Thomas’ goalbound shot midway through the half following good play from Elliot.

We also went close with THAT corner routine, but unlike at Lincoln, Purches imparted a touch too much slice on the ball and it went a foot or so wide. When attacking the ball from the left hand corner I would prefer to see a left footer striking the ball (a la Hughes v Colchester in 1999), but I guess left footers are a premium at the moment.

Holmes replaced Fletcher who got a good ovation and deserved it was too. By this stage we were quite happy to hang on for the one-nil and why not? Feeney came on too and ran around like a madman for 10 minutes also.

Special mention must go to the referee Joe Ross who I think really is a terrible referee. If you try to objectively watch any game that he referees he gives into the crowd every time. I guess he is probably most famous for infuriating Mark Wright when at Oxford who subsequently, is alleged to have said something racist about him. In my mind a crap ref is crap regardless of creed or colour! And Joe Ross is certainly crap. Frequently during the 2nd half it would take him a good 30 seconds to spot the flag of an assistant!

Fair play to the groundsman too. I don’t know anything about looking after football pitches but the staff must have done a good job for the ball to move around reasonably freely on a treacherous surface.

Although you can’t stand anymore, and the stands have dull names, and the person in the seat directly behind you annoys the hell out of you every week I guess the new pitch is a positive factor of the new ground.

I keep notes of every game I attend, with space for teams, score, ground, competition etc and then space for brief notes. For the York game I wrote "Easily the better side, excellent header from Fletcher". For this game I simply wrote "ditto". Lazy maybe, but true.

Young. Just like the Neil Young of old.

AFCB: Moss, Young, Broadhurst, C Fletcher, Purches, Elliott, O'Connor, Browning, Thomas, S Fletcher, Hayter
Subs: Tardif, Feeney (for Hayter on 84 mins), Holmes (for S Fletcher on 73), Narada (for Thomas on 88), Bloomfield

Vinny Goodfield, Uxbridge, Middlesex