RAMBLE: Bournemouth -v- Wednesday

RAMBLE: Bournemouth -v- Wednesday

Bournemouth, eh?

Who would have thought that at the start of the season our trip to Bournemouth would be of such importance to their promotion hopes?

That is the way football works and, I suppose, is one reason we love the sport.

So, as 7am reared its ugly, ugly head, I awoke to a feeling that today may well be more about having a nice day out in (hopefully) some lovely British weather, surrounded by some awesome people.

I managed to get through the usual morning routine fairly well, so I was hopeful that by the time Mark came to pick us up, both me and my Dad would be ready to go.

Leftover pizza: Breakfast of champions

Leftover pizza: Breakfast of champions

The process was significantly helped by the leftover pizza from the previous night’s takeaway.

No matter what anyone says, pizza for breakfast is just meant to be. You can stuff your porridge and your cereal.

8am arrived and Mark arrived pretty much on the dot, which led to the universal routine, found in every human: the mad scramble to make sure everything’s been packed.

It looked good and we were just about to leave when Mark asked the most sensible question of all: did we have the tickets?

As it turned out, no, we did not, they were still in the fish (the fish being a little rack where we put tickets, foreign money, bills and the like, not an actual fish).

So, with that little crisis easily corrected we left to go and get into Mark’s car.

This led to the most confusing part of the day. The back doors on Mark’s car had no handle, none, so I stood there for a good 10-15 seconds trying to figure out how to get into the car.

Mark's car was more than Billy could handle...

Mark’s car was more than Billy could handle…

Surely I was not about to be bested by some flipping doors!?

After what felt like an agonisingly long time, Mark laughed and pointed to the door window. He’s going crazy, I thought to myself, does he want me to climb in through the window? Is that it? IS THIS YOUR EVIL, MAD PLAN MARK!?…

Oh no, wait, there are handles to open the car… on the window…

Now, I am no car expert, but this still seems confusing to me, however, for the time, the problem was solved and I was in.

I may never be able to get over the window handles, though.

The drive down was fairly straightforward. Nothing much happened and we got a clear run pretty much all the way bar a bit of traffic due to road works near Oxford.

Mark and my Dad were in the front, conversing on topics ranging from football, of course, to politics and to what our plans would be upon arrival in Bournemouth.

The three amigos hit Bournemouth

The three amigos hit Bournemouth

We got to Bournemouth just before 12, chucked our bags into the hotel and went for what is potentially the most important part of an away day, finding a pub.

We found a nice little pub called Urban Beach just round the corner from where we were staying.

It was a chilled little place and had a certain Californian vibe to it, which they obviously played on.

The area of Bournemouth (Boscombe) where the ground’s located is a little bit different to California, which is a nice way of saying it is a bit rough round the edges.

After around 20 minutes we were joined by the infamous Pete and decided to have one more drink then be on our way because, as nice as Urban Beach was, it was a little bit on the pricey side and the lure of a big and cheap selection of beer in the local Wetherspoons was too hard to resist.

So, we finished up and left to continue on our travels.

Owls Road, Bournemouth: A good omen?

Owls Road, Bournemouth: A good omen?

Now, I like Wetherspoons, at times I love it, yes they’re all alike across the country but it is a safe bet for cheap drinks and for the most part, cheap drinks that are nice.

However, on a match day, they’re horrendous.

It was ridiculously busy. We seemed to forget that football fans and cheap beer go hand in hand, it is most definitely not a secret.

Still, we managed to find a few of the others (Sally, Baldy, Harry and Rose) and fit in a couple more before heading off to the ground, where the main festivities of the day would be taking place.

THE MATCH

As I mentioned above, I wasn’t coming into this game expecting anything other than a Bournemouth win, I genuinely though we might get spanked.

However, Bournemouth play attacking football, which actually played into our hands somewhat, as it allowed for us to break on the counter.

Despite all this, the game started off quite quietly.

Neither side made many chances and it looked like it might actually turn into a game where one goal would be enough for either side.

Because of this, I thought it was crucial that we didn’t concede.

We sat back, defending very well and looked ready to mop up any mistake that Bournemouth made.

Yet another injury for the unluckiest man in football

Yet another injury for the unluckiest man in football

The first bit of action, sadly, came in the form of an injury to Sam Hutchinson, who tore his hamstring going in for a tackle.

I like Hutchinson but he’s certainly not been on the receiving end of much luck in his career.

On came the opinion dividing Jaques Maghoma (I like him as well). Maghoma often receives unwarranted abuse for me and our first solid chance in the game involved him.

Bournemouth were passing it between themselves at the back but they were under a fair bit of pressure from Wednesday, and Chris Maguire forced Steve Cook into a mistake.

The chance to make it 1-0 up fell to Maghoma, but he couldn’t convert his shot which bounced off a Bournemouth player, then the second attempt taken by Kieran Lee did similar.

Bollocks. Just a little bit of luck there and we’d be 1-0 up.

Not too long after though, we had our goal.

Goal machine Kieran Lee celebrates yet another strike

Goal machine Kieran Lee celebrates yet another strike

We were passing it about fairly well but to no avail on the left hand side of the pitch, then up stepped the man of the moment Lee.

He switched play across to the right with a stunning pass to Lewis Buxton.

Buxton then moved forward and put in a sublime cross which fell perfectly to the head of Lee.

An eruption then followed in the away end.

Lee showed true striker qualities in continuing his run and being there to head it in when the chance came and, out of the all the players who have contracts up in the summer, he is proving to be the player truly making a statement for next season.

This set the tone for the rest of the half and aside from a stunning shot from Harry Arter matched by an equally stunning save from Chris Kirkland, we kept them quiet for the rest of the half.

HALF TIME: Bournemouth 0-1 Wednesday

We were greeted by the news in the second half that Kamil Zayatte had gone off and Marnick Vermijl had come on, which meant Lewis Buxton was now playing as a centre half.

Buxton: Worth a one-year deal?

Buxton: Worth a one-year deal?

Buxton has done very, very well since he has returned to the starting 11 and given how much of a versatile defender he is, a one-year contract extension seems like a good deal for both him and the club.

However, it remains to be seen whether he will get another contract, plus he may want to go elsewhere to try and get more first team football because he faces stiff competition for a place in the current team.

The second half started off in a similar fashion to the first, although Bournemouth looked more fired up.

You could tell they weren’t pleased with their rather tepid first half performance and they looked ready to try and correct that.

In fairness, we managed to sit deep, allowing them to attack us, ready for any potential break on the counter and a break did come.

Some neat play led to Lloyd Isgrove surging forward, using his raw pace to try and get in behind the Bournemouth defence.

However, he met a stumbling block in the form of a last ditch and rather cynical challenge from Bournemouth defender Simon Francis. A very predictable and deserved yellow card followed.

Maguire: So close to doubling the Owls lead

Maguire: So close to doubling the Owls lead

Now we had a chance. Free kick duty has fallen mainly to Lewis McGugan of late, but he was out today, perhaps due to not having been fully fit for the past couple of weeks. So, in his absence, the duty fell to Chris Maguire.

Maguire hasn’t had the best of seasons, but he is undoubtedly a gifted player, many Wednesdayites, myself included, have said if he just toned down his ego somewhat his game would improve.

So, there we all were, with a free kick in a very dangerous position and up steps Maguire. He hit it well, it had some curve on it and surely it was going to end up in the top corner?

Yes? YES!?

ARGH NO!

It was just a little too high and it ended up hitting the crossbar but it fell to Lee, the man of the moment.

Will he convert it?

GO ON KIZZA, GO O… BASTARD!

Lee failed to show the same level of calm as he did for the first goal and he blazed it over.

In fairness it didn’t fall kindly to him and he was under a fair bit of pressure.

The fact remains though, we had two big chances there and neither was converted, something that against the teams like Bournemouth can come back to bite you on the arse.

This did spark into life a second half that was vastly different to the quite quiet first half and we didn’t have to wait too long till the next chance.

Bournemouth’s main danger man since Lewis Grabban left for Norwich has been the ex-Coventry City player Callum Wilson.

He’s strong, has pace to burn and, from what I have seen, is a more than capable finisher.

So, when he got in behind the defence, I think everyone assumed that the equaliser was mere moments away.

But no, Wednesday’s longest-serving player Lewis Buxton gets the tackle in, and what a… wait, was that a penalty?

Wednesday fans were a mix of pleased but also slightly worried.

From our position it looked like Buxton had nicked the ball right at the death, but the reaction from the Bournemouth crowd and a fair few of the Bournemouth players definitely suggested otherwise.

Having now seen the incident back on the Football League Show I have to say it looked like a penalty.

A familar foe, Yann Kermorgant, made it 1-1

A familar foe, Yann Kermorgant, made it 1-1

Buxton did get the ball, but only by taking out Wilson first. Still, it wasn’t given and the game moved on.

After the penalty incident, Bournemouth had their most threatening spell of the entire game.

It looked increasingly likely that they were going to get a goal, particularly after a mad goalmouth scramble in which several Wednesday players were involved in keeping it out.

All our fears were confirmed when the ball was given away on the edge of the area and Felipe Melo, who has started to show glimpses of being a great player, failed to block a cross into the box and the cross was met by the head of Yann Kermorgant.

Bournemouth were reduced to 10 men as Ritchie received his marching orders

Bournemouth were reduced to 10 men as Ritchie received his marching orders

You could feel the atmosphere in the away end drop.

This was a soft goal to concede, a very soft goal indeed.

There was still time to either get another goal to go back into the lead, but I think many felt that this was the kick up the arse Bournemouth needed to go on and win the game.

However, fortune favoured us this afternoon it seemed, as around 10 minutes after they scored, Francis got a second yellow for a stupid and quite nasty challenge on Maguire.

Now down to 10 men, surely we could hold on or, better yet, win the game?

After a questionable foul, Bournemouth had a free kick, in a similar area to ours earlier on in the half.

Ritchie made it 2-1 with an absolute screamer

Ritchie made it 2-1 with an absolute screamer

Two Bournemouth players stood over the ball, and after a neat little lay off, Matt Ritchie blasted a curling shot that Kirkland had no hope of saving.

The home fans, for the first time, erupted.

This late on, could Wednesday even hope of getting anything now?

We had six minutes plus injury time. Surely it was done and dusted?

Maybe not! A neat little bit of play led to a surging move forward, in which the attack-minded defender Vermijl got in behind the Bournemouth defence and played in a low cross, which fell to Caolan Lavery.

All it needed was a tap in, the slightest of touches from Lavery and it was a goal, surely it is going in…. WHAT! NO! WHAT THE… HOW!?

Lavery put it wide and you could tell by his reaction that he knew he’d missed an absolute sitter.

For me it was game over now, the players’ heads would drop, accept the defeat knowing it didn’t mean anything and move on.

It would take something big now. Something big came.

Atdhe Nuhiu, who had come on earlier in the half (the only reason I didn’t mention that is because he did pretty much naff all worth mentioning sadly) was part of a promising attack that was huffing, undoubtedly puffing but failing to blow the house down.

The coolest man in the stadium stepped up to slot home the penalty

The coolest man in the stadium stepped up to slot home the penalty

It looked certain to fizzle out into nothing. The Bournemouth defence had all but stopped Nuhiu in his tracks but wait, was that an outstretched leg bringing Nuhiu down?

IT WAS A PENALTY SURELY!

YEEEEEEEEEEEEES!

The penalty was given.

Who in their right mind would want to take this penalty?

Up stepped Maguire, showing as he usually does that he’s definitely not without self-confidence.

The away end held its breath, I was preparing myself for it to be saved.

He steps up and…

Tom Lees thanks Chris Maguire for earning Wednesday a point

Tom Lees thanks Chris Maguire for earning Wednesday a point

GOAAAAAL!

He blasts it into the corner, the keeper went the right way but couldn’t get his fingers to it.

We all went mental and not too long after, the whistle was blown, confirming that we had snatched a point right at the death.

FULL TIME: Bournemouth 2-2 WEDNESDAY

Once all the delirium had settled down and we had stayed to show our appreciation to the Wednesday players, we headed for the exits.

Stuart Gray salutes the travelling faithful at full time

Stuart Gray salutes the travelling faithful at full time

On the walk back you could see all the Bournemouth fans were clearly disappointed, they had just thrown away a big chance to gain a little bit of ground on the rest of the promotion chasing pack.

However I don’t think any of us Wednesdayites, in the nicest possible way, cared too much. We were just happy we managed to get a decent result and decent performance out of the game.

You would be forgiven in thinking that, with talk of next season growing more and more, the Wednesday players would be wanting to see this season out as quickly as possible.

Despite this, a mixture of a good work ethic and the fact so many players are playing for new contracts, or if you’re cynical, playing to put themselves in the shop window, has meant that performances haven’t dipped.

I think many of the players currently at Wednesday can sense the buzz in the air around S6 of late and they want to make sure they do enough to earn a place here next season to hopefully be a part of something special.

That is the feeling I got from the performance I saw, a performance that was at times workmanlike and lacking into a bit of quality, but it remained a performance in which no player looked uninterested, which is very pleasing to see.

As myself, Peter, Mark and my Dad headed back to the Wetherspoons, we all shared the same view that a point was a fair result.

One drink too many, Billy?

One drink too many, Billy?

Upon our arrival at the Wetherspoons we met up with the rest of the crew, the always bubbly Morris family, Steve, Hollie and Janice, alongside Salop, Diane, Harry, Rose and Baldy.

What followed was a big game of pub (you can’t beat a game of pub) consisting of many a pint of ale and, my old enemy, sambuca.

The rest of the night eventually ended up becoming a bit of a blur.

Thankfully my memory of the game didn’t.

Roll on many more days like this I say.

Billy
Owls Alive
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