Before the game, it sheeted down. During, any combination of sun, cloud & wind. Quinn had re-arranged the team, with Bradbury & Pitman up front, Igoe behind, Ward & Cummings out wide, & Bartley to be Anderton's legs. A welcome return to the bench for Connell - presumably to boost his confidence. Kuffour started for Gas.
Cherries k.o. to the South end; almost straight away Cummings crossed & Pitman's header was finger-tipped away for a corner. Igoe found space at inside-left; his cross was nodded wide by Bradbury. Then Ward crossed, but Pitman fouled the keeper - mini-handbags followed. In reply, a Gas free went to Jalal. Igoe & Bradbury were linking well; both sides were trying to play football but needle was becoming apparent. Anderton wasted a long free, the shot going well wide. Pitman won a corner, but Gas seemed more fluid, with greater pressure on the Cherries back 3. Bradbury & Cummings were deeper than desirable; a Pirate waltzed round Cummings but the cross was cleared. Both sides' moves were breaking down; Cherries incompetence up front (especially Pitman's touch) & Cherries resolute at the back. But Phil H. pointed out that Cherries players were not good enough to mark zonally; to point up this, Cooper had to make a last-gasp tackle for a corner; Jalal flapped at it. A Gas defender tried to win a free by diving, but was yellowed (correctly) for his pains. He then went studs-up into Igoe; the 2nd yellow saw the idiot leave the pitch on 39. Credit to Gas; they went 4-3-2 but for all Kuffour's efforts they didn't make serious inroads.
Ward tried a foraging run; straight away Guyett had to tackle in the area - no pen as the forward swallow-dived. There was this slightly bad taste to the game. Anderton took charge of the ball & came forward, but his 25-yarder was straight at the keeper. The half had been mediocre; HT 0-0.
Almost from the restart, Bartley had a good run but the ball ran to the keeper. The tempo was slightly higher, but Bradbury displayed a poor touch. Anderton was sold a pass by Ward, & was yellowed for the tackle back. The swirling wind was complemented by the picky ref, so the standard deteriorated. Gas closed down well, filling holes, but Cherries managed a corner. Pitman hit a pile-driver from the "D" - blocked. Igoe began to put in some decent crosses from the right. A Gas corner was headed out, then back in, & over. Pitman was beaten by the keeper. Ward shot from inside-right; it went straight to Igoe who turned & shot only to see another superb finger-tip round. Jalal had to come to block, then Cherries had another corner. From this, it was evident that Gas were beginning to hack clear.
Ward, Igoe & Bartley changed the tactics with a series of triangles on the right; this provides for 2 alternative points of attack. They became so practiced some of the shapes seemed Isosceles in their regularity. The ball went out of the area, then back in, for a corner; the North stand became ever more excited. Bradbury followed the keeper wide of the goal. The challenge saw the keeper fall over the hoardings into the North stand; Bradbury was yellowed. A cross came in, the keeper fumbled, Pitman's knee seemed to make sudden contact & the ball flew over the angle. Anderton still looked good when in space, trying to take charge. Goulding replaced Pitman on 74; Ward's shot from the "D" was deflected - another fingertip round the post. From the short right-wing corner, Cummings chipped beyond the far post. Pearce headed it back, across the keeper, in at the post, 1-0 on 76. YESSS!!!
But the needle came back. Bradbury squared up; a possible meeting of brows if not minds saw his 2nd yellow on 78 so it was 10-a-side. A Gas free saw Jalal down on the ball at his left-hand post, and then he made a good catch. Goulding needed a good tackle to deprive him of a chance. Hollands replaced Bartley on 84, adding balance and legs. Pearce had to make a last-gasp tackle; from the corner, Anderton made 2 relieving headers. Igoe was clear on the right, but his cross went to the keeper. Another Gas corner saw Cherries panic, with Jalal falling on the ball. He then fumbled a long shot, with no disastrous consequence. Gas kept pressing; a break let Goulding feed Hollands whose shot was diverted into the side netting by the keeper. Then the 4 minutes of added time was over. Caps in the air, huzzahs from 2.6 sides of the ground. FT: 1-0.
Neither side looked decent; perhaps the elements affected the silky football for which both are, er, famed. And Cherries forwards rarely have a good first touch. But the Gas keeper pulled off some blinding saves, including one world-class reaction save, working harder than Jalal, so for that reason I suggest Cherries deserved the win - marginally. There seemed to be more niggle on the field than in the crowd for this "local" derby; yes, the teams have met in league & various cups more often than random draws could predict, but it was not pretty. With his experience, Bradbury should not have been sucked into the situation that saw his 2nd yellow, even if the first was unfortunate. In spite of Quinn subsequently bigging up Bradbury's performance, I feel he's no longer the player he never quite became, & he can't be a long-term solution to the forward problem. Perhaps the boot camp earlier in the week helped, as all 13 players used worked hard. But there's loads of room for improvement. Was Quinn desperate for a job when he took on this club? Did he need to put himself in the shop window? Or is he a masochist?
But - Blyth Spartans at home in Round 2, so a wonderful opportunity for glory & moolah in Round 3.
AFCB: Jalal, Guyett, Cooper, Pearce, Cummings, Ward, Anderton, Bartley, Igoe, Bradbury, Pitman
Subs: Pryce, Connell, Lindfield, McQuoid, Molesley, Goulding (for Pitman, 74 mins), Hollands (for Bartley, 84 mins)
Peter Wicks, Bulford