A huge three points for Bournemouth University against Swansea last week has given the men’s first team a fighting chance of escaping relegation. Before the game against the recently-crowned champions, Bournemouth found themselves in fifth place in the Western 1A division and were facing the prospect of dropping out of the league altogether. Southampton were the only side below them and will finish the campaign at the foot of the table, but it is now a straight fight between Cardiff and Bournemouth to see who will join them next season in the league below.
Swansea made the long journey to the south coast with the title already in the bag. With 21 points from a possible 24, it would be fair to say that they have dominated the league this year and are worthy champions. As with any competitive side though, they would not have wanted to return to Wales empty-handed and have to face the embarrassment of losing to a side fighting for survival. For Bournemouth the task was simple. Realistically, only a win would do if they were going to have any real chance of climbing out of the relegation zone. Even a victory would far from guarantee safety. Trailing Cardiff by two points, Bournemouth would have to rely on rock-bottom Southampton beating the Welsh side in order to climb above them. It was a tall order, but football is a funny old game.
Losing 6-1 away to Swansea back in November, early signs pointed to another defeat for Steve Cuss’ men. But with pressure mounting and time running out, Bournemouth turned the tables and produced a determined and resolute performance, coming away from Chapel Gate 3-1 victors. Two goals from leading scorer Clive Makoni set Bournemouth on their way, and a beautiful Derick Hayford free-kick early in the second half sealed three priceless points. The boys battled courageously and fully deserved their victory. All thirteen players on the day played their part and although it has been a disappointing season, it is clear that remaining at this level really does matter to every single one of them.
Bournemouth had done their job, now it was down to Southampton. When the rest of the results started to come through later that night, it became clear that the dream scenario had turned into reality. Southampton had beaten Cardiff 3-1, meaning Bournemouth leapfrogged their Welsh rivals into fourth place and out of the relegation zone. The two sides are now separated by a single point with one game remaining. Astonishingly, their final match is against each other. It couldn’t be more straight-forward. A draw for Bournemouth will guarantee they remain a Western 1A side, but a defeat will see them relegated. Cardiff have that all-important home advantage, but Bournemouth will be full of confidence after that morale-boosting win. Football is a game of fine margins. Who will keep their nerve on Wednesday 8th March?