Sunday, 10 March 2013

Mist rolls in on Cherries' promotion bid: Doncaster take the spoils

Match Report - 9th March 2013
AFCB 1 v 2 Doncaster Rovers
Attendance 7178 (including 569 away fans)

Bournemouth players warm up
Doncaster away fans
The teams before kick off. Ryan Allsop races off to the Cherries' goal
What a strange day this turned out to be. At one moment we were all enjoying the early spring sun rays and had high hopes of a Cherries home win. But the sea mist was on its way in and before we could sing a few choruses of Barmy Army, the crowd was soon embroiled in watching an absorbing contest between two of the best teams in the league. By the end of it, the Cherries were all wondering whether that was it? Our chances of reaching the top two this season had virtually  been swept away on the rolling mist, while our the prospects of a top six finish had taken yet another battering. Can we come back again from yet another set back?

Ellis Dunne, aged 6, was a Cherries' mascot for the match

The mascot's get their final instructions with Cherry Bear looking on
I am not going to be that hard on the team because the performance as a whole was not so bad, it was the result that was crushing. It was the usual problems for us when playing the big teams; Doncaster had height, power and hidden guile, while AFCB had speed and trickery but didn't get the breaks at the vital times. I could say you don't always get what you deserve and I think Donny would agree that 3 points, rather than one, was a real bonus for them from this match.

The Steve Fletcher stand in full voice 
Ryan Allsop was the star of the pre-match talk as he made his debut in goal for the Cherries - not a bad achievement when you consider we have five first team goalkeepers to pick from. Macca returned to midfield and Wes Fogden found himself back on the bench. Eddie had picked a team that he thought could do the business but straight away we had to look twice at the size of Doncaster's No 16 Jamie McCombe, what do they feed them up north? 

The first sight of goal came on 4 minutes when Pitman's header was saved by Sullivan in the Doncaster goal. Then AFCB went even closer, a minute later, when Steve Cook thundered a header against the underside of the bar with the home crowd yells of ''C'mon Bournemouth" getting loader and loader.

Brown and Paynter started to link up well at the front for Donny and Ryan Allsopp made his first save from Brown on 7 minutes. It was Doncaster now pushing forward with a corner and then a shot from Cotterill that was pushed out by Allsop, but not held. Seaborne had a headed effort easily saved on 13 minutes and Grabban fired his first low attempt shortly after, before Pitman who had been winning balls in the centre circle was ceremoniously flattened by one of the Doncaster centre backs. 

Ritchie was getting good crosses in from the left and Grabban headed one over, while Emile Sinclair got a shot away for the visitors on 20 minutes. Bournemouth's best attempt since Cook's early header came from Pitman who hit a low, hard drive from 20 yards that Sullivan had to turn around the post for a corner.

Doncaster's midfield was keeping the ball particularly well in the middle of the park with Paynter and Brown proving easy to find for Lundstram and Coppinger. Pugh and Grabban were getting into good positions but the experienced Sullivan was rarely tested with anything hit with real venom. The closest AFCB came to scoring was on the 40 minute mark when Ritchie fired in a cross that McCombe almost put into his own net, but it went out for a corner.
Half time entertainment at the Goldsands Stadium - Zorb ball racing!
The second half was met with more rolling sea mist and Pugh started with his usual flying runs down the left which unsettled Quinn. O'Kane hit a cross right across the box before Pitman and Ritchie tried their luck. It seemed all Bournemouth pressure with O'Kane and Ritchie driving the team forward. Coppinger was booked for a foul on Macca who was protecting the back four but not playing with much freedom. It was Pugh that was throwing caution to the wind, beating two men in the box before lobbing in a cross just out of reach of his team mates.

Doncaster were also getting chances now though with Coterill missing an opportunity after 53 minutes and again, two minutes later, when hot shot wide. Paynter also found himself in space in the AFCB box but he was quickly closed down. 

Pitman was finding Grabban a bit easier now, while Ritchie and Pugh continued to be the main supply routes. Then on 66 minutes, a break against the run of play, down the Doncaster right, saw the ball played in by Coterill who had teed up Paynter for a low shot into the bottom left corner of the Cherries goal. Donny were one up!

This was the signal for McQuoid to make way for Fraser. The mist was really coming in thick now and it was getting hard to see the far end of the pitch and the happy Donny fans. Grabban should have silenced them when he was clean through on the keeper on 74 minutes but Sullivan managed to get a hand on the shot to turn it away for a corner.

Husband got a booking on 75 minutes for kicking the ball away and time wasting. AFCB then made a double substitution with Grabban and Macca being replaced by Tubbs and Fletcher on 77 minutes, with the Cherries going to three at the back and Ritchie moving into midfield. It seemed to have worked when on 84 minutes Fletcher flicked on a header to Tubbs who ran through to equalise, one-one! The home crowd went bananas!

But Doncaster replied immediately with a break on the left side where Cook either slipped or was fouled but it opened up the space for a shot on goal which Allsop parried at first but was put in at the second attempt. I was told it was Husband that scored but it was getting hard to see much at that end of the ground where visibility had been reducing all half.

In extra time AFCB came close from snatching something with a free kick that Pitman headed onto the post followed by shouts for handball, but yet again the Cherries had come up short and had recorded five defeats in a row. 

This was something that was unthinkable a month ago and yet Cherry fans left the ground with a kind of resigned inevitability about the result. We just haven't managed to come up with the goods against the best sides, in the crucial games, when it really matters. The effort was there today but for all the chances we had Sullivan was not having to make endless saves all game. We were threatening but not devastating and that leaves us out of the play-off positions.

Cherry players surround the match officials at the end of the match

Player ratings
Allsop 6, Francis 6, Cook 6, Seaborne 5, Ritchie 7, McQuoid 5, MacDonald 5, O'Kane 5, Pugh 6, Pitman 6, Grabban 5

Cherry Bookings: O'Kane

Subs: Tubbs (86), Fletcher (86), Fraser (72)

Unused subs Jalal, Hughes, Fogden and Partington. 
Doncaster players celebrate with their fans


  1. Good blog as always - also like the additional pictures - brings the day alive :-)

  2. Thanks for the comment. I just wish I we all had something more positive to say. Oh for a victory!