Oct 23 Oldham Athletic 1-2 AFC Bournemouth Att: 5337

Last updated : 02 November 2004 By Phil Nesbitt
Graham Laws is not many fans favorite refs, unless you are the home team
(this is how it appears but I'm sure it's not deliberate on his part) but he could in no way be blamed for the simple decision for the penalty awarded against us in the third minute. A ball played into our box about waist high was passing Maher and the player he was marking until Maher stuck out his right arm and hey presto one of the clearest penalties ever. There seemed to be a time delay whilst Mr Laws pointed at the spot. Perhaps he couldn't believe his eyes, we couldn't, but then again his signalling has never been clear or abundant. Anyway Mossie guesed the wrong way and one down within three minutes.

On top of this the team looked all over the place as we adjusted to life without the injured Cummings. Maher had come into the side at centre back with Broadhurst moving to right back and Young to left back. Whilst the attacking six remained the same the balance was lost as Young just hasn't got the rampaging skills of Cummings nor his left foot. With O'Connor roaming, as usual, Young was exposed and did not look comfortable although he did try to get forward. Fortunately, due to their own injuries, Oldham were punchless up front - a better side would have enjoyed themselves.

Moss had to make one good save and after the ball flashed across our goalmouth a couple of times Elliott finally put it out for a corner. However, we were also creating some chances. Good interplay between Elliott resulted in a sight of goal for James but he dragged his shot wide. Fletch then had a header tipped onto the bar by Pogliacomi, Oldham's Aussie keeper. At the other end a poor kick by Moss resulted in a corner for Oldham and Eddie had to block an effort in his usual 'thou shalt not pass' style.

After twenty minutes, credit to the two O's, as we switched to three five two with Young right wingback and Elliott left. This did the trick as we now looked balanced as Elliott is reasonably happy being on the left. we still didn't look threatening although Fletch, Hayter and Stock all put efforts over the bar. Eddie was also booked for bringing an Oldham player down as he passed him. Our first booking for seven matches, are we too soft? Nil nil half time.

The second half started brighter with more movement and cohesion. A flying Hayter just failed to make contact with an Elliott cross. Stock then shot wide. At the other end Young cleared well with his head but most of the action was now at the other end. Indeed a good move saw Elliott chip a through ball for Spicer to race onto and he and Pogliacomi reached the ball at the same time and the challenge saw the free ball roll to Hayter, just what we wanted, and he slotted it home. Spicer then headed wide and Wade shot wide when a cross would have been the better option. O'Connor was booked for dissent and petulance and was then replaced by Browning.

In the seventy sixth minute the Oldham defence made a huge blunder. Fletch flicked on and Hayter received the ball without a defender within twenty five yards of him. Arguably the hottest striker in the division didn't waste this generosity and raced towards goal to place the ball past Pogliacomi (you may gather that I like this name!).

Oldham did not have the width or class to trouble us for the remainder of the match. Indeed our two substitutions were both strikers. Holmes for Fletch and Connell for Hayter. Fresh legs up front, even Derek's, can be a good form of defence!

Man of the match is difficult as no one really had a good match. I'll go against my usual moan when the sponsors give to the goal scorer and award it to James as he did make the difference. the defence might claim they deserve a mention but Oldham did not really give them much of a hard time.

This match proved that we will struggle without Cummings. We will either have to bring in a replacement or change formation. As he is, possibly, the best full back outside the Premiership (discuss), he is irreplacable so a change of tactics is essential. it is unfair to expect Young to cover.

AFCB: Moss, Maher, Howe, Broadhurst, Young, Elliott, O'Connor, Stock, Spicer, Fletcher, Hayter
Subs: Stewart, Coutts, Browning (on for O'Connor, 73 mins), Connell (on for Hayter, 87), Holmes (on for Fletcher, 79)
Phil Nesbitt, Solihull (ex Reading)