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Last Updated: Saturday, 24 May, 2003, 15:57 GMT 16:57 UK
Bournemouth win seals promotion
Steve Fletcher (left) celebrates after opening the scoring
Steve Fletcher (left) leads the Bournemouth celebrations
Bournemouth 5-2 Lincoln

Cardiff's claim to be a city of culture was proved correct as Bournemouth comfortably won a play-off final of widely contrasting styles.

Lincoln's uncompromising aerial approach and defiant five-man defence had powered them to a play-off place, but failed to break down Bournemouth's more sophisticated approach.

Bournemouth's Fletcher connection gave the Cherries a first-half advantage, striker Steve and captain Carl scoring either side of Ben Futcher's header for Lincoln.

And as the second half became stretched while Lincoln chased the game, Stephen Purches, Garreth O'Connor and Carl Fletcher again were able to seal an emphatic win, with Mark Bailey replying.

There had been little sign of the goal feast to follow during an uninspired opening 30 minutes in which both sides stumbled to find their feet.

The closed roof may have been part of Lincoln's problem as Keith Alexander's side looked to the sky in a direct approach to wearing down Bournemouth.

29 mins: Steve Fletcher volleys past Marriott
35 mins: Futcher heads Lincoln level
45 mins: Carl Fletcher heads home O'Connor's cross
56 mins: Purches finishes off sweeping Bournemouth move
60 mins: O'Connor sweeps home fourth
75 mins: Bailey heads Lincoln consolation
76 mins: Carl Fletcher heads his second of the game
For long periods it looked as though the tactics would pay off as Bournemouth struggled to get into their stride and were restricted to counter-attacking.

But the Cherries looked effective when they were able to break free of their shackles.

Wade Elliott was unlucky to see an opportunist back-heel blocked and Purches curled an ambitious shot just wide to freshen up a stale opening period.

But the game burst to life as Steve Fletcher broke the deadlock on 29 minutes.

The striker reacted quicker than Futcher to pounce on Marcus Browning's knockdown and volley beyond the despairing dive of Alan Marriott.

The lead only lasted six minutes as Futcher quickly redressed the balance.

The centre-back got ahead of Fletcher from a Lincoln corner to power home a header from four yards and install himself as the club's leading goalscorer for the season.

Carl Fletcher celebrates his goal on the stroke of half-time
Carl Fletcher celebrates after scoring Bournemouth's pivotal second goal
But the game's pivotal moment arrived a minute into first-half stoppage time when Carl Fletcher was left completely unmarked to run on to O'Connor's right-foot cross and flick a header past Marriott.

Lincoln were unlucky to be trailing but the goal left them chasing the game and leaving holes in which Bournemouth were happy to run in to.

Eleven minutes into the second half, goalkeeper Neil Moss punched clear to set up a swift counter-attack involving James Hayter and then Elliott, whose cross was volleyed home by the inrushing Purches.

O'Connor made promotion a virtual certainty on the hour when he ran on to Steve Fletcher's flick and easily beat Futcher before sending a left-foot drive beyond Marriott.

Bailey's first-ever goal for Lincoln, a thumping header from Chris Cornelly's cross, gave Lincoln a glimmer of hope with 15 minutes left.

But that was snuffed out just 70 seconds later as Carl Fletcher stole forward to head home O'Connor's free-kick and claim his second goal - as many as he had previously managed all season.

The goal also saw Bournemouth become the first team to score five goals in a play-off final - against a side with the best defensive record in Division Three - as they emphatically regained their Second Division status at the first attempt.

Bournemouth: Moss, Young, Carl Fletcher, Gulliver, Cummings, Elliott (Thomas 90), Stephen Purches, Browning, O'Connor (Stock 79), Steve Fletcher (Holmes 85), Hayter.
Subs not used: Stewart, McDonald.

Lincoln City: Marriott, Weaver (Cornelly 57), Morgan, Futcher, Bailey, Butcher, Gain, Bimson, Smith (Yeo 50), Cropper (Willis 72), Mayo.
Subs not used: Sedgemore, Bloomer.

Booked: Weaver, Morgan.

Attendance: 32,148.

Referee: A Kaye (W Yorkshire).

BBC Sport's David Oates
"Bournemouth are back in Division Two"

Bournemouth boss Sean O'Driscoll
"We saved the best for last"



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