Sept 15 AFC Bournemouth 1-1 Northampton Town Att: 5009

Last updated : 25 September 2007 By Exiles Reporter
There was little in a game higher on incident than quality to give them cause to regret their decision.

We began with one change from the unlucky defeat at Orient, Hollands being given a shot at the problematic left midfield role in place of the ineffective Cummings. Bournemouth almost got lucky in the opening minutes when a miscued defensive header left Bradbury in the clear, but although he was able to get the ball past the keeper it lacked the momentum to get to the line before Bunn was able to scramble back. Northampton's response was immediate, Russell's 25 yard effort bound for the top corner but for a flying save from Begovic. Northampton then took control of the early stages, and Begovic was twice more called on to make saves to keep his side in the game, one with his feet after 13 minutes when a through ball was feebly allowed to get through to a striker in front of goal, and a rather easier parry from a long range effort after 20 minutes.

Bournemouth's seemed to lack conviction in attack, and their best chance resulted from Northampton mistake, keeper Bunn slicing a clearance to Bradbury, who took too long and allowed a defender to get back and block his shot. It was very much against the run of play when we eventually took the lead in the 34th minute. Gradel broke down the right and crossed to Bradbury who laid the ball neatly back to Anderton. It wasn't the veteran midfielder's cleanest strike, the ball being driven into the ground, but accuracy made up for the lack of power and it went in off the post with Bunn floundering. Anderton almost added a second with a trademark free kick minutes later, but Bunn made a good stop. This was a better spell from the home team but Northampton were still dangerous, and missed a great chance to equalise just before half time when Johnson was through on goal but failed to hit the target.

At the start of the second half Perrett pulled a hamstring making an innocuous clearance and was replaced by Cummings, Garry switching to central defence. Bournemouth were looking a little livelier and Bradbury went close with a back header from a long throw that Bunn did well to tip over. In the 61st minute Cummings fell awkwardly in making a challenge and had to go off with what subsequently proved to be a broken arm. Christophe came on and was surprisingly asked to play at centre back with Garry moving back to the left side. Bond was probably reluctant to risk Young at centre back against the height of Hubertz, but although Christophe did his best he never looked comfortable in the defensive role.

In the 66th minute Kuffour raced on to a through ball and appeared to nick the ball past Bunn before the onrushing 'keeper flattened him in the penalty area. Unfortunately the referee took the view that Bunn had played the ball first, and after both players had recovered the game restarted with a drop ball rather than a penalty, to the fury of the home fans. Bournemouth were having their best spell of the game. Anderton powered a free kick just over and a low cross from Gradel forced Bunn to make a great save from his own defender. Still, you sensed that the non-penalty was going to be costly, and so it proved. Hubertz should have equalised but hit the bar with a header from close range following a free kick clumsily conceded by Gradel. Then a cross from Johnson should have been cut out by any of three defenders who succeeded only in confusing each other and allowing the ball to reach Larkin 15 yards out on the right. The substitute was unmarked and showed no hesitation in smashing home a fine volley that gave Begovic no chance.

With little more than 10 minutes remaining it was always going to be a tall order for our less than free-scoring side to restore the lead. Kuffour missed badly with a header after a great ball from Anderton, Gradel did better with a cross from Bradbury but was agonisingly wide. The final frustration came in stoppage time when a corner led to an almighty scramble and at least five attempts on goal denied by a combination of good goalkeeping, last ditch defending and luck. There was still time for fate to deliver one more boot to the sensitive regions. In the dying seconds of the game Northampton engineered a two on one break that they failed to capitalise on, but in getting back to make the saving challenge Garry was left injured on the ground and had to be stretchered off. It was later confirmed as a broken leg, desperate luck for one of the few successes amongst the new intake, who has already suffered more than his fair share of injury. Bond's decision to gamble on a smaller, more experienced squad is looking as sound as a bet on England to win the egg-chasing world cup.

Man Of The Match
Asmir Begovic
- not the busiest of games, but we would have been dead and buried in the first 20 minutes but for two excellent saves. Gowling, Anderton and Bradbury also did well.

AFCB: Begovic, Garry, Gowling, Perrett, Young, Anderton, Hollands, Telfer, Gradel, Bradbury, Kuffour
Subs: Moss, Pitman, Cummings (for Perrett, 48), Christophe (for Cummings, 61), Vokes (for Kuffour, 82)
Richie Barker, Leyton