Sept 20 AFC Bournemouth 2-1 Rushden & Diamonds Att: 6464

Last updated : 26 September 2003 By Richard Butler
This week has seen AFCB pick up 6 pts out of 6 against two very good sides. Just maybe it’s been Sean O’Driscoll’s finest hour to date.

Today, Rushden were quicker out of the blocks, forcing a fine fingertip save out of Moss in the very first minute. Seconds later, Moss appeared impeded as Lowe placed a firm header into the net. A very confident footballing side didn’t really let us have a kick for about the next five minutes. To be honest, they went on to control the rest of the half. Their well-orchestrated moves broke through an often shaky defence with an in-form Moss providing a very valuable last line. Shaun Maher looked out of sorts being beaten for pace on more than one occasion.

Purches hit our first effort towards goal in the 28th minute, but he skied well over. A bit later, Steve Fletcher was unlucky with a guided header just dropping wide of the near post. Overall, though, the chances were created by Rushden who appear to be a team going onwards and upwards. The most remarkable chance fell to Lowe, who picked up a rebound from a brave Mossy block, only to troll it wide of the mark when it was easier to score.

Half time whistle blew to the relief of the Bournemouth fans, genuinely pleased to be only 0-1 down! Time to re-group and sort it out.

HT: 0-1

Second half: more of the same, with Rushden enjoying territorial advantage. There seemed to be no easy way to break Brian Talbot’s team’s stranglehold.

Sitting in front of a posse of players’ wives and girlfriends, mostly substitutes’ wives & girlfriends, I was aware of eager anticipation for changes to be made in the line-up. But I think we were all pleased at the sight of Feeney stripped and ready with just 5 mins gone in the 2nd half.

Just minutes after signing the back of my son’s shirt, the Feenster ran on to replace an injured O’Connor, and to make his mark in spectacular fashion.

Initially, his introduction was uneventful but when his mate, Holmesy, was also introduced, Feeney had his chance. For the first time in the game, AFCB enjoyed superiority, with Steve Fletcher moving out to one side of the penalty area, Big Derek out to the other. ‘Rocket Launch’ diagonal balls were fired in by Carl Fletcher and both big men continually won the header, dropping dangerous balls into the centre. Chaos ensued with the visitors clearly rattled.

In the 69th minute, an advancing Maher found Feeney. He shimmied, found a bit of space and then scuffed the ball into the net, just inside the keeper’s right-hand post. 1-1.

Two minutes later it was 2-1. An Elliot corner was flicked on by Browning. Feeney anticipated well, finishing off a training ground manoeuvre with a strong close header. Dream Football indeed! The local contingent in my part of the stand went understandably wild as did the rest of us.

Rushden rallied and a minute later, they should have been level when Onandi Lowe rolled the ball inches wide of the post for the second time in the match - an unbelievable miss and in front of the North Stand. He then went off injured so perhaps that had something to do with it. Tindall replaced an impressive Elliott for the last 10 mins as the Cherries worked hard to keep their lead. The full-time whistle couldn’t come quick enough, but come it did and 3 points somehow in the bag!

Feeney gets the headlines for a great performance but for me Sean O’Driscoll was the ‘Man Of Today’. It was undoubtedly his tactical changes that turned the game on its head. Feeney, the Executioner, SOD the Architect.

The difference between the side now and the last time that we were in Div. 2 is the quality of the bench, and today proved just that. We are now 7th in the table and rising fast. On today’s form, Sean O’Driscoll’s stock is probably rising as well.

AFCB: Moss, Maher, C.Fletcher, Broadhurst, Cummings, Elliott (Tindall 85), Purches, O'Connor (Feeney 51), Browning, S Fletcher, Hayter (Holmes 63)
Subs not used: Stewart, Thomas
Richard Butler, Chertsey