Graham Pearcey

Graham Pearcey

Cherries 1 Nottingham Forest 1

Date: 12 November 2005

Last time I came to a home game I discovered that my 'regular' chip shop had closed. Permanently. So this time I turned the other way out of the station, and headed to a different chip shop. And guess what? It had closed five minutes before I got there. There was even a bouncer on the door - of a chip shop! So I went on to the stadium and bought a (very acceptable) pasty. Which was fortunate, because I wouldn't be eating again until a quarter to midnight. (As I'll explain later in this report.)

Something else that had been concerning me before the game (apart from my hunger!) was what I'd do if - as expected - Peter Phillips took the microphone to speak about the sale-and-leaseback, announced this week. Would I go with my gut feeling and shout "Traitor!" and boo him off the pitch? The trouble was, voting suggested that most people went along with him and supported the move, so I was in a minority. Anyway, I needn't have worried because the only person who took the microphone before the game was the chaplain. He announced a minute's silence, not just for war victims (who, you might argue, were already getting two minutes on Friday and two on Sunday) but also, poignantly, to remember Steve Bernard - a former player at the Cherries' School of Excellence - who had been tragically killed in a car crash. The silence was impeccably observed by a record crowd of 9222. (How dared the Forest supporters sing, "Shit ground no fans"? Anyway, the North Stand retaliated with "You're not famous any more!")

I don't know whether it was the pre-match silence that took the stuffing out of Bournemouth, but we played poorly first half. Forest scored through Southall, at close range, on about 20 minutes, but had two more golden opportunities to score after that: one shot, following a Forest corner, was only just wide; the other, from close range, was excellently saved by Stewart (who started the game looking a little sloppy but matured as the game progressed). So the half time score was 0-1 but 0-3 would have been fair.

We played better in the second half, but didn't go into overdrive until the last twenty minutes or so, from which time on we ran Forest ragged. A final score of 3-3 would have been fair. Our goal came at an interesting time, because as Fletcher was standing on the touchline waiting to come on as substitute we were awarded a corner. Would this be a dream moment; would he come on and score off the corner? No. O'Connor had other ideas. Breaking with the tradition of Bournemouth procrastinating over corners, sending out coded signals, and then failing to score anything, this time O'Connor took the corner quick and early. The Forest defenders hadn't got back and Fletcher hadn't come on. O'Connor played short to Stock, who walloped the ball into goal with his left foot. Brilliant! 1-1.

So O'Connor became an important man in this match, despite having been almost entirely left out in the first half. Then he'd gotten into good positions but no-one would pass to him, now he'd 'made' a goal. And in the last half hour he became increasingly involved in the game. He, Cooke, Keene and Stock (again) all had good scoring opportunities that came to nothing.

The final part of the story - for me - was that the return train got me to Woking four hours later than planned, because of a broken rail at Beaulieu Road. It did give me the chance to overhear what Forest fans were saying about the game. They thought we were a team of underweight shorties, which is probably fair. They also wondered what all the hype was about regarding Hayter, which on the day was a reasonable question. But they rated Stock and Foley highly.

The starting line-up (with my scores out of ten) was :

Stewart (7);
Cooper (8), Young (9), Hart (6);
O'Connor (7), Cooke (8), Browning (5), Stock (8), Foley (8);
Surman (6);
Hayter (7).

My 'man of the match' : Young.

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