The towering stands are all four sides are structurally little changed from its sixties heyday, and if you can ignore the plastic seats and the tuneless parping of the supporters’ band you could be back in the days when Seeler, Haller and Beckenbauer performed here in the World Cup. All in all a suitable backdrop for the piece of minor Bournemouth history that was about to unfold.
Despite the slightly below par display against Brighton, the team was unchanged from Saturday. Once more we were honoured with a top flight referee, Mike Read, who dealt well with the few critical decisions in what was never a bruising encounter. The first half was a very low key affair, with both sides looking fairly happy get a point from the game and unwilling to risk committing too much into attack. What few shots there were came from distance and were either off target or comfortably dealt with by the goalkeepers. Only towards the end of the half did Bournemouth begin to find a little more penetration. Pitman played in Wilson, who uncharacteristically snatched at the chance and sliced it wide, and there was one long range strike of real quality from Ritchie which produced a fine save from Westwood to turn the ball wide. After their collective case of stage-fright in front of the cameras, Francis, Cook and Surman were back to their normal high standards.
Wilson had evidently left his shooting boots at home and was guilty of another miss early in the second half, blasting wide when a Pitman pass again opened up the home defence. Nil- nil written all over it we were starting to think, but the decisive moment of the game was not far away. Royston Drenthe is quick and skilful, but not the greatest timer of a tackle. Having already picked up the only booking of the first half, and with a failure to engage brain that would have driven his manager to despair, he dived in on the advancing Pugh, leaving Read with no option but to issue a second yellow card.
With thirty 30 minutes still to play the balance had shifted in what had hitherto been an even game. Eddie quickly had Fraser and Kermorgant warming up in an effort to exploit our numerical superiority, but before they could be introduced Wilson went on a run and found Surman, who took advantage of the extra time and space now available to give us the lead with a goal of real quality. Wednesday unwisely opted to stand off, inviting him to measure one of his trademark left foot curlers inside the far post, an invitation he accepted with pinpoint precision. Credit to Wilson for managing to stay on his feet despite an attempt to take him out as he burst through, and to Mike Read for playing the advantage and then booking the perpetrator after the goal was scored.
Eddie didn’t let the goal change his mind with regard to the substitutions, Ritchie and Pitman being the players to make way, and the decision to go for the jugular was immediately justified as Wilson burst through the defence, drawing in defenders and keeper before unselfishly squaring the ball to Fraser who rolled it into the unguarded goal. Many Wednesday fans opted to make an early exit at this point, and they weren’t bad judges as Bournemouth utilised the man advantage to maintain possession for long periods. It was demoralising for the home team, who judging by their lack of urgency when they did manage to get hold of the ball had no confidence in their ability to get back into the game. The clinical way that we put this game away after the red card was no doubt exactly the kind of thing that Eddie had in mind earlier in the season when he was asking for the team to be more ruthless.
As if thing weren’t already going well enough, towards the end of the game the news came through that Birmingham were beating Watford and we were about to go top of the table – for the first time ever if you discount the opening games of the season. It may be surreal given what the club has been through in the not so distant past, but on what we’ve seen of the division so far it is fully merited.
Simon Francis – typical Francis performance, enough said.
AFCB: Boruc, Francis, Elphick, Cook, Daniels, Ritchie, Surman, Arter, Pugh, Wilson, Pitman
Subs: Camp, Harte, Smith, Gosling, Kermorgant (for Pitman, 67 mins), Fraser (for Ritchie, 67 mins), Rantie (for Wilson, 87 mins)
Richie Barker, Leyton