Swindon kicked off towards us; a cross from their right, a forward missed it by 2" & Begovic collected. Young cleared well with his head; Wilson was fitting in reasonably well at left-back having returned on loan at short notice. Cooper chipped, the keeper caught it with a little surprise, & his long kick was headed down by a colleague. The no.31 (Cox) was not marked tightly, took 1 touch & cracked it to Begovic's right - 1-0, 7 mins. The ref. spoke to Hollands soon after., then Kuffour chipped onto the roof of the net. Hollands put in a decent daisy-cutter making the keeper fumble at the far post; Boscombe regaining control. Pitman was advanced on the right, but dropped back when needed; Young blocked with good anticipation. Kuffour tackled the right-back well; Telfer crossed but Bradbury's skimmed header went wide. Pitman was obstructed twice. 2 frees went to Swindon on our right - both wrong decisions. Both keepers seemed to be catching well, & Bradbury just couldn't stretch enough to Pitman's cross.
Anderton seemed isolated, not linking too well with Hollands &, especially, Cooper. Then Bradbury pushed it out to Kuffour; Hollands timed his run perfectly onto the instant angled pass & slid it left-footed to the goalie's left. Lovely move; 1-1, 37 mins. Swindon was the stronger team but Boscombe more controlled, with Hollands now feeding & linking well. Anderton put in Kuffour, who was pulled down. Last man? Not even a yellow. Anderton took the kick, inside-right, 20 yards out, deflected for a throw. HT 1-1 - deserved, as we'd had 55:45 of both possession & territory.
From the restart, Paynter broke forward well & fed to his right. The cross was cleared for a corner, the resultant shot over the bar. Warning… Then down the inside-left channel, and suddenly we had an extra defender - one-time loanee John O'Shea's brother Rick. Telfer passed back to Begovic, whose clearance hit Telfer & Paynter walked it in. 2-1, 48 mins. Begovic then had a mix-up with Young but Anderton let it out to Pitman. Swindon's cross-shot went for a corner, resulting in an offside "goal" - but Begovic was by now all over the shop, with their's little better. Not much fun with a makeshift defence having no confidence in the stopper behind. Then 2 home players had a head collision - no long-term problem.
Vokes replaced Kuffour on 60, & soon was making a nuisance of himself with strong runs. Pitman hooked over the bar; Anderton & Hollands seemed to have a better understanding this half. Then Paynter twisted & bamboozled Young; snap-shot to Begovic's left, 3-1, 64 mins. In response, Pitman tackled badly in our half, hurting himself & being yellowed to boot. But some urgency & bite did appear in our play, with the away end really getting behind the lads. A defender climbed over Vokes, another pulled down Bradbury, but no frees. The ref. was not giving enough, especially in our favour. Letting the game flow is a good idea, but only if the fouled side retains advantage. Pitman did well to keep the ball & cross; Vokes had the ball in his feet beyond the back stick & put it behind not in. Bradbury & Vokes allowed Telfer to cross for Hollands to head - better, but still not quit there. Vokes was looking good, but Swindon broke quickly again - just wide at the far post. Hollands was fouled - but the free went against him for handball on the ground. Vokes' header went too far in front of Pitman. Again, Boscombe played the more controlled football, but Swindon - also with a changed side - seemed to have more fire; a reflection on the managers?
The home goalie missed a catch & kicked the right-back, but Hollands could only head over. Swindon headed over, not quite to the cross. Lots of huff & puff, Boscombe trying things but the home defence was too deep with enough bodies to prevent chances. Vokes continued to threaten down the centre, but suddenly Cox was down to the goal-line on our right, slid it in & Paynter tapped it in at the far post. 4-1, 85 mins. Several from our end made an early exit. Christophe replaced Cooper on 87 - probably a half-hour too late - & immediately powered through to win a corner, which the keeper gathered at the second attempt. That & our goal were the only 2 real instances of a midfielder going beyond the forwards. Telfer was beaten for pace, Begovic screwed up a deflection for a corner, then it was all over. FT 4-1.
And the home team really wasn't much in terms of quality. We gave them 3 goals; individually most players did their jobs OK but collectively the defensive unit was a shambles, starting at their 18-yard line. This was déjà vu for Bond - our defeat at Pompey, spring '90, similar patched-up team in which he played a part, a result leaving us looking down the barrel of the relegation gun. Here - a good first half; controlled football, & a well-taken goal. But little positive in the second period, apart from always trying to play, a spirited contribution from Vokes & a brief cameo from Christophe. As for Begovic - rumour is that he has to play else Pearce returns down the M27. Tough call… There was little width to our play & no overlapping from the full-backs, & the mixture of injuries & squad policy (finance-dictated) augurs ill for the immediate future. Those still fit must ensure none are pusillanimous.
AFCB: Begovic, Young, Telfer, Wilson, Cooper, Anderton, Hollands, Pearce, Bradbury, Pitman, Kuffour
Subs: Stewart, Franks, O'Connor, Vokes (for Kuffour, 60 mins), Christophe (for Cooper, 87 mins)
Pete Wicks, Bulford