By Dan Davis (@dan_davis20) and Giancarlo Bocchetti (@gianbocch23)
Today Bournemouth FC has the opportunity to make history and lift the Bournemouth Senior Cup again after 28 years.
The 9th of May of 1990 will always be remembered as the last date when, with goals Dan Saxby and Lee Bolson, the team defeated Hamworthy Engineering (today known as Hamworthy Recreation), to win the last cup of this competition.
Michael Cuffie’s outfit will have the chance tonight to return to days of glory at Hurn Bridge, Christchurch facing Hythe and Dibden as their opponents.
The Wessex League One side have defied the odds to reach the final stage of the competition, brushing aside higher-league opposition in Brockenhurst, Christchurch and Hamworthy United. Terry Cox’s side have also seen off Poole Town Reserves on penalties during their successful campaign, and promise to pose a real test for free-scoring Poppies.
Bournemouth FC secured their spot in the final after scoring three goals in every round to progress. A second-round encounter with Hamworthy Recreation saw the Winton-based club fall behind after the visitors thundered home a spot-kick, before Poppies rallied to down their opponents. George Hatch opened his account for the season with his leveller, Sami Garcia then edged the home side into the lead with his maiden strike, before Tomo Muruyama crashed home off the crossbar to set up a meeting with local rivals Bashley.
The third-round clash at Bashley Road saw the holders knocked out, as Cuffie’s side prevailed with another show of clinical finishing. On 37 minutes, despite the visitors being firmly in the ascendency, Bashley took the lead after Cameron Beard stroked coolly beyond Sam Jones from close range. But the visitors were quick to hit back, as Steve Flynn rose highest to nod beyond Jason Collins before the interval. Shiv Roushbaiani and an own-goal from Poppies centre-half then traded strikes to level the tie once again, before Stepan Neronski lashed high into the net to secure the team progression.
Bournemouth FC then won their ticket to the final, after easing past Lymington Town in a Victoria Park semi-final. Recent signing River Smith, who has superbly led the line after the departure of Mickey Finch, netted on 20 minutes to open the scoring. Further strikes from Flynn, now dual-registered at Southern League South side Wimborne Town, and Ali Zintany secured the victory – despite a consolation from the visitors’ Pierce McNamara.
Tonight’s clash promises to be another high-scoring affair, something now typically associated with a marauding Poppies side who have found the back of the net nine times so far in the competition. Hythe and Dibden, meanwhile, have collected three impressive Wessex Premier scalps – whilst scoring 11 times in the process, excluding penalty- shootouts.
Boss Cuffie has a welcome selection dilemma for the final, with multiple talented attackers contesting to spearhead Poppies’ strike force at Hurn Bridge. Dominic Falco and Nassim Meddah made their first appearances in red and white in recent weeks, the latter bagging the winner upon his return from Bashley at the weekend.
Hythe and Dibden may also be faced with an electric River Smith, who has scored nine goals in six appearances for Poppies so far. The visitors have also found the back of the net with ease so far this campaign and will be looking to the likes of Sam Woodward, Wayne O’Dell and Filippos Terzidis to secure what could be the club’s first piece of silverware in their history.
With the first piece of silverware this season up for grabs, it promises to be an intriguing encounter at Hurn Bridge tonight. Kick-off is at 7:45pm.