Both sides played their dirt-trackers – amazingly, 10 of them for the Cherries (indeed, 11 including the last substitution).
On a dry, mild evening, Cargill replaced the suspended Cook alongside the retained Elphick, with the experience of Harte on the left. Gosling came in for the (nicely-arranged) suspended Arter, and Kermorgant & Rantie started up front. The other pair of wingmen played also, with Fraser on the left. Baggies still had several first-choices and a few internationals in the starting 11. Boscombe k.o. towards the South (Ted MacDougall) Stand and Kermorgant made his mark by coming in from the left and hitting it straight at the keeper, who needed two goes at grasping it. Cargill & Gosling both made poor passes but Baggies were caught offside; both sides were passing & tackling crisply. Fraser went on the first of several long runs, ending with a goal-kick. Rantie was pulled back by the neck, earning the offender a yellow card. Smith showed his mettle with a thrilling run into the away area, but Kermorgant’s resultant shot was blocked. Boscombe had decided to take the game to their (supposedly) more illustrious opponents, one of the original 12 League clubs.
Baggies put in some sharp crosses; from one the header went wide and the away outfit seemed just a touch more cohesive and snappier. But Fraser was proving a handful on the left. Then O’Kane was yellowed for one foul too many; it didn’t cramp his style. Camp was sharp to a snapshot; Baggies players looked bigger especially the 10, Anichebe, who – if he used that big-unit physique more - could be a world-beater. Then Boscombe had a really splendid patch of quick advance, pressure, movement, with O’Kane & Stanislas prominent, the latter at last looking like his publicity. The former was the real fulcrum of the side & Rantie complemented this by hounding his oppos ceaselessly. Regrettably, Cargill was determined to have pulled down an opponent near the “D” and yellowed for his pains; he claimed a dive. The free went over; the response was an excellent Stanislas run & cross but Rantie could only head wide. In all this, Gosling still looked to be strolling too much.
Baggies went thorough but Camp saved well; a warning against complacency or gung-ho attitudes. Harte & Cargill were calm & assured in a well-protected back-4, & the former put in a typical in-swinging cross for another home corner. This went out & back in, with Elphick heading wide, and Baggies responded in similar vein only for Rantie sprinting away, suffering an ankle-tap and a yellow for the felon (Mulumbu, the street-wise midfielder). Rantie tried again, but was blocked by the 3rd defender he tried to beat.
The away keeper (Welsh international Myhill) caught the next home corner; Baggies’ free saw a header wide, as the game swung back & forth. Rantie was offside for the fourth time (more often than he wasn’t); the sides were probably 50-50, although apparently Sky Sports favoured Boscombe in that comparison, perhaps through the more stylish approach to the game. HT: 0-0
Just after the break, Smith was clattered; a talking-to & handshake suggested no malice. Soon after, Stanislas gathered the ball centrally (it’s a current feature of the side that wingers are coming well inside more), moved forward at pace, slipped it left to O’Kane as he reached the “D”, and the little Irishman swept it gleefully across the keeper! 1-0, 49 – One-Der-Ful! This only made Baggies more urgent, but Rantie was fighting for every ball. Camp made a good save, then a cross came in, Elphick fell in the challenge & the ball appeared to hit his supporting arm on the ground. Baggies fans behind the goal bayed for a penalty, but the ref. was not having it, perhaps deeming it too accidental.
The game was faster now, and Celtic reject Samaras (possibly the first Greek to play at Dean Court?) replaced Ibeye. Smith & Stanislas linked in a good run; the cross appeared to generate a push but again no pen. Sunderland reject Sessegnon came on, wide left. Fraser dashed through, put it wide to Smith, collected the cross, turned to his left but shot wide.
Rantie had kept the centre-halves (Dawson & McAuley, Div.1 regulars) occupied but was beginning to show fatigue so was replaced on 69 by Wilson, who was fouled wide right. Regrettably, Harte was too heavy with the free. Then England young hopeful Berahino came on. Oh boy; how would the homesters cope? But since the goal, Boscombe had dealt well with whatever Baggies could produce (so far not good enough for a Div.1 outfit, & testimony to the ability & attitude of the home players and the team structure) and kept looking for opportunities, with Gosling putting himself about properly.
Francis came on for Fraser on 77 with Smith moving forward & Stanislas going left; classic game management. Baggies misplaced too many passes; one such had led to the goal. Smith won a corner; as with the earlier free, this was over-hit – as had through balls by Boscombe in both halves (pitch watered too much?). The sponsors’ Man of the Match award was announced – O’Kane; so glad they had listened to & agreed with your correspondent. So far, Boscombe had been in charge of the game. Then Samaras took on Francis, went left & hit it in. Elphick stuck out a leg & the ball diverted between Camp & the near post. 1-1, 85. Rats.
When the horse throws you, you jump straight back on; Smith put Wilson away at inside-right. He bore down on Myhill, went perhaps a touch too wide, then put the ball through the keeper and into the far part of the net. 2-1, 86 – Oh WOW!!! Prometheus Unbound! Joy unconfined! Soon after, Eddie Howe tightened up midfield by showing confidence in MacDonald and having him replace Kermorgant (who’d kept the away defence honest) on 88; 6 minutes to play inc. time added, & the sub made some telling contributions. Sterling defence, and at least one away attempt headed over, amongst much whistling, then the important whistle - FT: 2-1 – YESSSSS!!!!!
Pandemonium among the home fans; when is this fairground ride going to end? The carousel seems to have slipped its moorings and is wheeling away across the sky. These are precious times; hold them tight and devote them to your deepest memory banks as the next banana-skin may not be far away... Not only was that 0-8 the biggest away win in the history of Div.2 (and its various re-brandings) since its inception in 1892, but now another record: the first-ever appearance in Round 5 (yes, the quarter-finals!) of the Football League (Capital One) Cup. The draw gave Boscombe a home tie with Liverpool. Good grief!
Gosling looked classy, and increasingly used his physique to dominate opponents. Cargill (still only 19) was, along with his captain, eventually up against Anichebe, Berahino, Samaras & Sessegnon and was never bossed or bested by any of them. So who wears the baggy trousers now? An important point: each position can be filled at least adequately by at least 2 people, as shown over these last 2 games, so any back-sliding in league games before the next round will just lead to a decent replacement. And Eddie has shown he has no sentiment.
No-one had a poor or iffy game. Sponsors agreed with this observer that, given his passing, interceptions, breaking forward & the goal, O’Kane deserves this award.
AFCB: Camp, Smith, Elphick, Cargill, Harte, Fraser, Gosling, O'Kane, Stanislas, Kermorgant, Rantie
Subs: Flahavan, Daniels, MacDonald, Ritchie, Wilson (for Rantie, 69 mins), Francis (for Franser, 75 mins), MacDonald (88 mins)
Peter Wicks. Bulford