Sept 18 Sheffield Wednesday 0-1 AFC Bournemouth Att: 19203

Last updated : 26 September 2004 By Robin Stieber
For the second time in six months, I sat in the magnificent old stadium at Hillsborough and watched Boscombe emerge with three hard earned points. This was a very different victory from last March, however. Then AFCB were massively superior, playing football of a quality reminiscent of our day at the Millennium Stadium. Now, shorn of their inspiring captain, and going into the match with a run of three defeats, the idea of victory seemed no more than a fantasy.

The team was the same as for last week’s home defeat by Colchester, except for one crucial change. Elliott returned unexpectedly early from injury, and replaced Holmes. Wednesday went into the game with similar worries hanging over them, not having won any of their last four league games. Still, we can only marvel at the enthusiasm of the local fans. 19,203 of them turned out, and that was their lowest crowd of the season so far. They deserve better than what they’ve been getting for the last four years.

Certainly Wednesday looked the brighter side for much of the first half, though Elliott showed early that his recovery appeared to be complete, and was soon giving the left side of the Wednesday defence a hard time, running at them and putting in excellent crosses. Had Wednesday made the most of their chances, we could have been out of the game by half time. The young Scot, McLean, was the worst offender. In the first minute he dallied on the ball, enabling Moss to block him. Next he was put through by Collins, but shot wide, and then powered between Howe and Broadhurst but lifter the ball over the bar as Moss came out.

Meanwhile Boscombe were grafting away. Rodrigues ran impressively (my first view of him), one good break being spoiled by a marginal offside decision, with good support from Spicer and Hayter. Spicer shot just over the bar. At the other end, the defence was solidifying, with Stock making some impressive tackles. Hayter was penalised for a perfectly good tackle outside the area, but it came to nothing.

At last in 41 we made the break. Spicer was pressing forward. Rodrigues slipped a perfect pass through to him, and Spicer, with time and space available, shot perfectly from the edge of the penalty area past Lucas. It was class finishing from the loan player. Will we be thinking as wistfully of him some day as we do of Jermain Defoe, Rio Ferdinand and John O’Shea?

HT: 0-1

I was surprised in the second half to see how the spirit seemed to drain out of Wednesday and their long-suffering fans. Just as last March, the few hundred Boscombe fans perched in the largely empty acres of the Leppings Lane upper tier were comprehensively outshouting nearly nineteen thousand Yorkshiremen. The home team made a few early chances, but Moss was equal to everything, and by the end Boscombe were comfortably playing out time. Holmes replaced Rodrigues on 70, and Connell made a meaningless appearance a minute into added time. Is Holmes really preferred to Connell? I find it difficult to believe.

A very welcome win to set us up for a tough week, but we really didn’t have much to beat. It was no surprise that Chris Turner lost his job as Wednesday manager within half an hour of the final whistle. Incidentally (Grumpy Old Man time), why does anyone take any notice of the Football League’s stupid, dishonest designation of this division as League One? What can the word "One" possibly mean in this context? All these piffling words such as Premiership and Championship (championship of what, pray?) are designed to prove that everybody can be a chief and nobody needs to be an Indian. Why is football run and marketed by idiots?

I would just give it to Stock ahead of Elliott.

AFCB: Moss, Howe, Broadhurst, Maher, Cummings, Spicer, Elliott, Stock, O'Connor, Hayter, Rodrigues
Subs: Stewart, Andrade, Holmes (for Rodrigues on 72), Coutts, Connell (for O'Connor on 90)

Robin Stieber, Fulham