Graham Pearcey

Graham Pearcey

Gillingham 2 Cherries 1

Date: 9 April 1999

This game was a six pointer for the Cherries, because Gillingham's placing in the Division 2 table could directly affect us later in the season. In the event everything went against us and we must hope we don't have to meet Gillingham twice more this season.

A classic "game of two halves". Mel Machin totally altered Bournemouth's usual system for a day. In an attempt to respond to Gillingham's typical style of play (tall players hoofing long balls around the pitch), and to cope with the absence of midfield wingers Bailey and Huck through injury, the team switched to a system with three centre backs, one additional player just in front of the centre backs, and two wing-backs. For the first half, this system served the Cherries very well and they managed to stand up to Gillingham pressure and even to score a goal on the break. Steve Robinson put the ball in the back of the net on the 17th minute, and the Bournemouth fans - at the opposite end of the ground and unable to see too well - cheered vociferously once they were aware what had happened.

But Bournemouth could not anticipate that they were falling victim to Tony Pulis's master plan, and that after the break Gillingham would suddenly spring to life. The pace shown by some of the Gills in the second half, particularly down the wings where Bournemouth were most exposed, was incredible to watch and impossible to match. Even before the Gills' equaliser Bournemouth fans were muttering that they'd settle for one-one. But Gillingham never reduced the pressure nor the pace, and in extra time they scored the winner. Although the prolific reserve striker Lovell was now substituted for Hayter, who'd had an excellent game, it was too late for Bournemouth to take anything from this game.

One other substitution had already taken place - Tindall for Rawlinson just in front of the back five - in a half which Gillingham totally dominated. One or two half opportunities for Stein were all that the Cherries could muster.

Even the first half had been dominated by Gillingham, and Howe and Cox starred.

Vincent's free kicks and corners were missed and Hughes is not as suitable for taking these kicks.

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

Ovendale (6);
Young (6), Howe (8), Cox (7), Hughes (6), Warren (6);
Rawlinson (6);
Hayter (7), Robinson (6);
Stein (7), Fletcher (6)

My 'man of the match' : Howe.

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