Graham Pearcey

Graham Pearcey

Cherries 1 Grimsby 2 (aet)

Date: 19 April 1998

The dream wasn't to be, but the day will be remembered nonetheless. So many Grimsby fans in London from early in the morning, all willing to chat to me like old friends. A huge cheer from both sets of fans as the train drew into Wembley Park station. We've arrived! 34,000 very audible Bournemouth fans, most of whom seemed to know the songs. But at least one 'fan' (behind me) who was clearly there for the first time, embarrassing her companion by asking questions like "Are they allowed to use their heads then?" and "Why are they shouting 'Boscombe?'" Towards the end, when the match was nearing its nail biting finale, she even said "This is quite good fun, isn't it?"

The team initially lined up as follows (my scores out of ten):

Glass (8);
Young (7), Cox (7), Howe (7), Vincent (8);
Beardsmore (6);
Bailey (9), Robinson (7), Warren (7);
Stein (7), Fletcher (8)

Brissett came on for Warren on the ninetieth minute, but hardly got a touch of the ball. O'Neill took Beardsmore's place on 105, and not before time as Beardo had (untypically) an indifferent game.

The defenders started weakly, and only Grimsby's poor finishing kept them from going ahead a number of times. Ironically, the two Grimsby goals came at a time when our defence had improved.

Bailey and Glass gave everything. Both were devastated when the Golden Goal went in. Glass eventually recovered to lead the half-lap of "honour".

Bailey's work rate was phenomenal, although his goal was - in fairness - an easy touch. Nonetheless it was great to think our team were not only at Wembley but in the lead - and for forty minutes or so. Glass's goal kicks were perfect, his saves legendary, and it was greatly ironic that while he was still breathing a sigh of relief that he'd 'only' given away a corner, the Golden Goal went in.

Vincent was for a while the only on-form player in the back four. He reverted to his traditional role of taking corners (see previous match notes), and took them well.

Stein and Fletcher had great games, each in their own way; giving Machin a headache because neither of them offered any justification for being substituted, so Brissett was kept off the pitch. "O no they're taking off Fletcher", said the girl behind as the board was held up for Grimsby's number ten!

90-minute score: 1-1. Stein almost scored in the very last minute of 'ordinary time'. In extra time both goalies (knowing the game would now be decided by 'Golden Goal' or penalties) looked decidedly nervy - particularly Grimsby's keeper who'd had a good game until then. But eight minutes from the end of extra time, when Glass was still breathing a sigh of relief that he'd just "only" given away a corner (and we all were): Golden Goal!

The players did us proud and, before the watching TV millions, gave a very good advertisement for "lower league" soccer.

Man of the match : Bailey.

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