Sunday, 10 April 2016

Safety and smiles - AFCB beat Villa 1-2

Match Report
9 April 2016
Aston Villa 1 v 2 AFC Bournemouth
Attendance: 31,057
AFCB are happy to record another away win as they move up to 11th in the table.
This match could have been full of tension and anxiety for both sets of fans, but it turned out to be rather less of a test for the Cherries than many of us might have expected. Villa may have needed a win to prolong their stay in the Premier League but they were never really at it and AFCB showed enough improvement from recent games to hold their nerve and get the three points that guarantees them safety now. It was Steve Cook that got the Cherries ahead with a neat back heel finish after a short corner right on half time. That lead was extended after 74 minutes when Josh King jumped on a helpless Ciaran Clark and raced ahead to stab past Brad Guzan in the Villa goal. A late goal from Jordan Ayew seemed more of a surprise for the home fans than the away ones, but it was of little consolation for Aston Villa who played poorly as they have all season to be fair.
Villa players.
The Cherries are led out.
There were two main changes to the team with Dan Gosling and Tommy Elphick replacing Eunan O'Kane and Adam Smith but the big news Callum Wilson was back in the squad as a sub. Apparently Glenn Murray who was due to travel twisted his ankle and so Callum was called up.
Callum is amongst the squad.
The players acknowledge the fans.
The captains.
Aston Villa were more experimental making five changes to the side that lost to Chelsea and their fans were quite shocked to the point of disbelief to see Leandro Bacuna and Kieran Richardson run out while there was no start for Rudy Gestede. Eric Black had made his point, but was it handing the initiative to the Cherries?
Nervy moments before kick off.
The AFCB huddle - 3 points and we are safe lads!
There are more pictures on Match Day Gallery.

A beautifully prepared pitch faced both sides as they came out to play. King and Grabban kicked off and the Cherries took the game to Villa. It was the claret shirts that had the first attempt though with Idrissa Gana, blazing over from just outside the box after three minutes.

It was not long for AFCB to reply though Surman found Gradel who made a sumptuous back heel to play in Lewis Grabban and he hit his low shot firmly, but Guzan stuck his right hand out and turned it out for a corner on five minutes.

Gradel and Daniels were pushing attacks up the left, but it was Grabban that was impressing by coming to the ball and offering himself as an option whenever he could. A characteristic run and cross from Francis up the right was cleared by Clark and the Cherries were playing well. Much of that though was helped by a Villa side that wasn't pressing and was conceding possession all to easily to AFCB. Cissokho was industrious in getting forward but he was not able to find Villa players in space as the Cherries got behind the ball swiftly whenever he pressed forward.

A moment of danger from Bacuna led to a cross that Ashley Westwood powered over the bar. These moments were few and far between. Villa fans were more content just to sing "Julian Lescott has got a new car," while Bacuna was getting booed with his every touch of the ball.

Steve Cook had a sticky moment though on 20 minutes when in his own box he hesitated to clear with Boruc in close attendance. Finally, he made a decision to clear though.

Grabban stole the ball off of Westwood to start another AFCB break. This time Gosling ended up shooting wide. Twenty minutes had passed and Bournemouth looked on their game, not on holiday.

Cook may have been flustered by his indecision earlier, but he had a poor touch and then clattered into Idrissa Gana on half way and Martin Atkinson gave the first yellow card to him. Villa just weren't closing down and their work rate was half that of the Cherries. Villa did rather like the North stand and Kieran Richardson put another shot high into the stand rather than test Boruc.

Charlie Daniels was next to go in the book for a challenge on Scott Sinclair but it seemed harsh at the time. Boruc punched the cross from the free kick anyway and won a foul.

Elphick was next to draw a foul from Gana who was given a yellow card. Elphick got up quickly which was pleasing to see without the need to have a physio on the pitch. Some 57 per cent possession, according to BBC West Midland's Radio, had not given AFCB a lead, but King did his best with a scissor kick from a free kick that went wide enough to go for a throw.

It looked like a goal would be hard to come by but in extra time, AFCB won a corner thanks to Ritchie. He took it short with Francis and then sent Francis clear on the angle into the box, with a back heel, or him to deliver a cross that Steve Cook clipped the ball with the back of his right boot and steered the Cherries ahead at the near post to make it 0-1 at half time. A really cleverly worked short corner!
A slow walk off for the Villa players.
AFCB have the lead.
Second Half
Aston Villa took off Jordan Lyden who hadn't done much to be fair and brought on Rudy Gestede for the second half. Villa won an early corner but Cook got his head to it and cleared well. Gosling got a bit more of the ball, but Villa were taring to create on the break with Gestede working the ball well to Sinclair who raced from half way into the box but then failed to shoot or find a pass.

Another Villa chance saw Sinclair down the right wing and cross for Gestede but the ball just looped up kindly for Boruc. "We shall not be moved," sang Villa fans who started to get behind their team.

A crazy refereeing decision then followed with Westwood and King battling for the ball in the box. King had the pace of Westwood and the two tumbled with King appearing to be dragged to the ground, yet Martin Atkinson gave a foul in Villa's favour.

Pugh came on for Gradel on 58 minutes as the Cherries looked to pick up the pace. It was Villa threatening now though with Jordan Ayew racing down the right and beating Daniels cleanly before putting in a low cross right along the six yard box that only needed a touch from Kieran Richardson, but the Villa player managed to nutmeg the ball somehow with the goal gaping!

Grabban was still AFCB's best payer and he won another corner on 61 minutes. Where was he getting this energy from? Ritchie tried to get a clean shot running from the back post area to the penalty spot but he was forced to shoot well over.

Surman was now picking the passes and keeping AFCB's possession dominance going, while Gosling did well to draw a foul on the edge of the box. Surman took the shot but hit the wall and later volleyed wide from a central position.

Time was running out for Villa and they subbed Sinclair for Adama Traore on 71 minutes. AFCB forced another corner but Cook could not get a clear header. Just as there was a lull and Villa took a throw not far from half way, Cissokho knocked it back but Ciaran Clark was rather caught on his heels and miss controlled the ball. It was an open invitation for Josh King and he broke with only a forlorn Clark in pursuit. The ball sped on a bit but King was in the box and Guzan started to come out to smother the ball but King nipped in and poked it past him and saw the ball head on into the net while he hit the ground. It was 0-2 and clear distance between the teams. It was a bravely taken goal and something from nothing. King was just very alert to the opportunity.

King won another corner on 76 minutes and Villa were under severe pressure now. Adama seemed their best outlet but when he put in a cross all he found was the safe hands of Boruc. Pugh won another corner and this time Cook did not get enough on it to get the direction right but Guzan had come to punch and got it all wrong.

On 83 minutes Jack Grealish replaced Richardson and the break up in play clearly did something for the Villa. A bit of confusion over a throw and there was some lack in concentration that let Gana pass to Ayew through the middle of AFCB's midfield and now with a run on goal. Tommy Elphick was twisted one way and another and as he backed off Ayew shot early and beat Boruc to his right to make it 1-2. The unlikely comeback was a sudden possibility with five minutes to go. Eddie Howe argued about a throw that should have been AFCB's before the goal and that was an official's decision that appeared to have bitten the Cherries.

Eddie Howe responded subbing Grabban for MacDonald. A late corner to Villa was cleared and the moment we had been waiting for arrived - Callum Wilson made his return on 92 minutes and AFCB fans delighted in singing his goal machine theme song. Ayew picked up a last minute booking but it hadn't been Villa's day - they were effectively relegated. The match had worked out according to plan and Wilson was back - what a day!
Francis leads the applause.
Another great win.
Summary
It was not a totally polished performance from the Cherries but it was a marked improvement and the players got the job done. While Elphick was the solid force at the back, Grabban and King did the running up front and Surman and Gosling kept possession well. It was the strength through the middle of the team that won them the game and goals at great times made it very difficult for Villa to get a real belief that they could win the game. More importantly for Eddie Howe and his team, they know now they have done enough for a second season in the Premier League.

Aston Villa
Guzan, Bacuna, Lescott, Clark, Cissokho, Sinclair (TraorΓ© 71), Lyden (Gestede 46), Westwood, Richardson (Grealish 85), Gana, Ayew

Villa Subs
Bunn, Richards, TraorΓ©, SΓ‘nchez, Grealish, Gestede, Toner

AFCB
Boruc, Francis, Elphick, Cook, Daniels, Ritchie, Gosling, Surman, Gradel (Pugh 58), Grabban (MacDonald 87), King (Wilson 90+2)

AFCB Subs
Federici, Wiggins, O'Kane, Pugh, Iturbe, MacDonald, Wilson

AFCB Player Ratings
Boruc 6: just couldn't handle the one shot Villa had on target, 
Francis 7: strong runs and assist for the first goal, 
Elphick 6: had a great game up until the point he backed off for Ayew's goal
Cook 6: passing and indecision a real worry at the back first half, but he got his goal
Daniels 6: wingers are starting to get the better of him but what a season he's had
Ritchie 6: involved in the first goal but would have liked to have seen more from him
Gosling 6: got stuck in and did a lot of running 
Surman 7: kept the passing going especially second half - found a lot of time and space on the ball
Gradel 6: keen energy almost played Grabban in for early goal,
Grabban 8: his best match since returning - always showed for the ball just needs to get more shots off. My MoM.
King 7: he's become accustomed to the league and what is required of him - another excellent goal

Referee Rating: Martin Atkinson 4/10 keen to give AFCB players yellow cards but when King went down in the box he had the audacity to give the foul the other way. Villa's goal perhaps would also not have happened if a throw had been given the other way.
Even Eddie can celebrate now.
We had two correct score predictions Ellie Yeatman @Ellie_Yeatman and Adria Casain @adria_casain. We had to draw a winner from the hat and the winner was Adia. Congratulations! A Steve Fletcher Flash stick is on its way to you - our first overseas winner!

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