O’Driscoll would no doubt say, the home side had obviously done their homework on us (why is he surprised by this?) and the opening exchanges saw County dominate and force the wing-backs into a more defensive role than they wanted. James Hayter, nominally playing ‘in the hole’ behind the 2 big men was thus forced back into midfield and the net result was the nightmare scenario of Fletch and Holmes winning balls up front but with no one to feed off them.
The first chance to the Magpies came after just 2 minutes when Riley broke free and Neil Moss, slow off his line, was relieved to see the offside flag. A minute later Wade Elliott did manage to get forward on the right but shot straight at Mildenhall in the County goal.
Neil Moss was called into action 10 minutes later when Tony Barras (who seems to have been around forever) latched on to a Darren Caskey (ditto) cross but Mossy was able to palm it past his right hand post.
Browning picked up his customary booking just before the half hour. He probably would have got away with the foul but his kicking the ball away led to a yellow card and the free-kick being moved forwards 10 yards. From this kick, now within shooting range, Caskey’s shot was deflected and Moss made another stretching save to turn it around the post.
The best football of the first half came just before the break when good inter-passing let James Hayter in but unfortunately his shot was at the centre of the goal and easily dealt with by Mildenhall.
The best entertainment so far came during the interval with an under 11 (and under 4ft) 5‑a‑side game.
The second half started with Cherries looking brighter and James Hayter pushing further forward to provide much needed support. Just 2 minutes in, the ball fell to Steve Fletcher just outside the box and Fletch hit a screaming volley. The least said about the direction the better, but suffice to say that the ball should be picked up by the Hubble telescope shortly.
On 50 minutes Karl Broadhurst became the next player to be booked when he lost his footing and brought down Heffernan (no relation to the great Tommy as far as I know) on the half way line.
Steve Fletcher should have done better 2 minutes later when he headed past the post from a good position. Just after this he had an even better chance when Neil Moss released Wade Elliott with a good throw and Wade went on a mission down the right wing. In a magnificent run, reminiscent of the Wade of old, he beat two defenders and then released an inch perfect cross to Big Fletch who was unmarked on the far post and had the simplest of chances to head in into a gaping net for his 4th goal of the season. At this rate he might get into double figures for the season, thankfully I haven’t had my regular bet against it this year.
The arrival of two hot air balloons led to speculation that Stock and Feeney had found an unorthodox way to rejoin the squad but they passed over silently.
Notts seemed to revert to a more long ball game to try to get back into it and this played into the Cherries’ hands although a lucky deflection fell to Heffernan and he was unlucky to see his shot rebound off the left hand post.
A series of Bournemouth substitutions helped to break up the play and waste time. The third of these, with about 10 minutes to go, saw Danny Thomas on for the limping Elliott. It was good to see Danny making his presence felt in the remaining time with some clever runs and good keeping of possession.
Anyone who saw the Hartlepool late equaliser last week would have had a sense of déjà vu with just 4 minutes to go when County were awarded a free kick in a similar position just outside the area. Thankfully Caskey’s aim was not as good as Strachan’s and the ball drifted harmlessly past the left hand post to the sound of 300-odd sighs of relief from the away supporters.
Thomas had a chance to apply the coup de grâce in injury time when Hayter put him through but the shot went just over the bar. It wasn’t costly though as shortly afterwards the final whistle blew to signal the Cherries third away win of the season and County’s 4th home defeat.
I wonder if the ‘Feeney is God’ brigade have considered that our last 3 games without a win coincided with him starting, whereas our return to winning ways today happened without him?
AFCB: Moss, Purches, Browning, Broadhurst, Maher (Young, 80), Carl Fletcher, Steve Fletcher, Elliott (Thomas 83), O'Connor, Hayter, Holmes (Tindall, 75). Subs Not Used: Stewart, Connell.
Clive Loader, Wimbledon