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Matches of Yesteryear - Bournemouth v U's 3/4/04
Written by wessex_exile on Monday, 23rd Sep 2019 21:01

AFC Bournemouth v Colchester United

Saturday 3rd April 2004

Nationwide League 2 (Tier 3)

Attendance 6,896

Match #14 of the series, and for the first time we visit a ground for the second time…if you get what I mean? Well sort of anyway, as we’re back at AFC Bournemouth, though this time at the Fitness First Stadium (as it was then known) that had replaced the original Dean Court (see Matches of Yesteryear – Bournemouth v U's 3/2/01). As mentioned in that previous blog, the first game played at the Fitness First Stadium was in November 2001, and at the time of this game in 2004 it was still a 3-sided set-up. As part of a finance restructuring package, the ground was sold just over a year later in a sale-and-leaseback arrangement.

This was the first full season with Parky in charge, and although we hadn’t had the best of starts, results had picked up sufficiently that by the time of this match in early April, we’d already passed the regulation ‘50pts is safety’ mark. Leading up to Christmas, we’d even been challenging for promotion, but with cup success in both the FA Trophy and the FA Cup, fixture congestion started to take its toll – we went on to play a remarkable 15 cup matches in all competitions that season! Bournemouth, on the other hand, were eight points ahead, and one place and one point outside the play-offs with a game in hand, so a tough match was expected.

This was the weekend at the start of the school Easter Holiday, so my eldest boy was absolutely delighted (😊) to continue to endure Dad’s passion for Colchester United and accompany him on the relatively short trip from Salisbury down to Bournemouth (well, technically it’s considered Boscombe, not Bournemouth). It was a bright dry day, and having parked up in the stadium car park, Sam and I decided on this occasion to resist the temptation for a swift one in the Queens Park Hotel and went straight in to the ground.

The U’s lined up:

1….Simon Brown

22..Greg Halford

18..Liam Chilvers

19..Alan White

25..Sam Stockley

3….Joe Keith

4….Gavin Johnson

10..Kem Izzet

17..Bobby Bowry

8….Wayne Andrews (Thomas Pinault 75’)

12..Craig Fagan

Bournemouth had a few familiar names in their line-up that day. I’ve previously mentioned Carl Fletcher, scorer of their late equaliser in the first Match of Yesteryear against Bournemouth. They also had gnarly warhorse Steve Fletcher (no relation), a consistent if not prolific goalscorer, averaging 5-10 each season, and always a real handful for defences. However, the man of the moment without doubt was James Hayter. Hayter progressed through the youth ranks at the Cherries, and after a brief loan spell at Salisbury City, had established himself as a key part of the Bournemouth strike force by 2000. However, barely six weeks before this match against the U’s, he achieved national acclaim, scoring the fastest hat-trick in Football League history. AFC Bournemouth were already beating Wrexham 3-0 on the evening of Tuesday 24th February 2004 when Hayter came on as an 84th minute substitute. He went on to score three more in a remarkable 2 minutes and 22 seconds, unfortunately all missed by his parents who were at the game, but had to leave early to catch the last ferry back to the Isle of Wight.

Promotion candidates Bournemouth certainly started the brighter of the two, with Feeney quickly testing Simon Brown with a rasping shot that was saved well. Steve Fletcher (as anticipated) was also making a big nuisance of himself, heading just wide from a Hayter corner, followed by a 25-yard thunderbolt from Purches that just missed. When Fletcher again only just headed wide, and then forced Brown to save well from another header, it seemed to me inevitable that Bournemouth would soon take the lead.

However, Greg Halford hadn’t read the script, and in the 34th minute headed home a peach of a corner from Gavin Johnson to put the U’s 1-0 up. Against the run of play, certainly, but did the U’s faithful care! That gave the U’s considerable momentum, and for the remaining 10 minutes of the first half we had the Cherries on the back foot. Halford could have scored with a second header, which went agonisingly over the bar, and right on half-time the Cherries ‘keeper Moss did well to save a great shot from Fagan, and so half-time came with the U’s 1-0 up and in the ascendancy.

We started the second half in the same vein, again with Halford tormenting the defence, including a great strike from the right side of the box which Moss did well to stop. However, it wasn’t all one-way traffic, and Claus Jorgensen reminded us of the threat that Bournemouth posed when, approaching the hour mark, he smashed a 20 yard pile-driver against the woodwork with Brown stranded. Inevitably, the U’s started to sit deeper, looking to hold on to the slender lead, and mostly restricting Bournemouth to long range efforts, all well-executed, but not really troubling Brown. However, the pressure was building, and whilst we hoped we might just hold on, eventually the pressure told. A decent cross from Purches in the 86th minute, and there was that man Hayter in the box to fire home the equaliser for Bournemouth.

It was too late in the match for the U’s to respond, and with all three of his substitutes already used, too late for Cherries manager Sean O’Driscoll to bring on fresh legs to try and snatch the victory, and that’s how the match ended.

AFC Bournemouth 1 (Hayter 86’) Colchester United 1 (Halford 35’)

The Cherries supporters and local press were naturally disappointed to not win a game they felt they deserved to (and really needed to), but I suppose with my blue-tinted spectacles I saw it differently. I saw a bedraggled exhausted U’s (that was our 55th game of the season!) fight tooth and nail with promotion contenders, keep them at arms length for much of the game, and put them under real pressure at times – to me, it was a well-earned and well-deserved point, and with a bit more fortune could have been all 3 points. We went on to win four of our last six games, and finish in 11th place. Bournemouth’s momentum faltered, and they only finished 9th, just two places and two points ahead of the U’s.

Almost exactly a year later, much better things were to come for the U’s on our next trip to Dean Court.

Whilst we all prepare for the big match tomorrow night against Spurs at the Community Stadium, and for a bit of fun, I will leave you with the matchday programme quiz from this game – see how many answers you can get…

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