Sunday, 10 February 2013

AFCB step up a gear against Pompey

Match Report
Cherries 2: 0 Pompey
9 February 2013

Attendance: 9135 (highest of the season) 1338 visitors

AFCB and Portsmouth FC shake hands before kick-off

Eddie Howe was absolutely right when he suggested pre-match that Portsmouth FC would provide a very difficult opponent for the Cherries at home. Far from being a simple task for AFCB, they were made to up their game and prod and probe the Pompey back line for an opening, switching play from right to left and left to right before quickening the play and sending numerous crosses to test and examine Portsmouth's stern defence. While Bournemouth had a larger share of the possession in the first half, as they shot towards the Steve Fletcher stand, they were finding if difficult Pompey to break through Pompey's 4-4-2 set up. 

Pompey had three new signings for the game, Patrick Agyemang, Therry Racon and John Akinde. Their fans made themselves heard all game with superb musical drumming  and clanging accompaniment that went on even after the final whistle.

AFCB has its customary kick-off huddle with the packed away
section of Pompey fans looking on
Bournemouth lined up with the same players that started the second half at Milton Keynes.Charlie Daniels did not pass his morning fitness test and Tommy Elphick was still out after his knee injury from Ryan Lowe's challenge. That meant that Matt Ritchie filled in again at left back and Dan Seaborne moved across to left centre back, next to Steve Cook who was captain for the game. Simon Francis was in his customary right back position and the midfield was made up of Pugh, Arter. O'Kane and McQuoid. There was no room for MacDonald who was on the bench. Grabban and Pitman started up front.

Pugh fired over the bar in as early as the second minute and the intention from the start from the Cherries was to get on the front foot. But Pompey had come to the game with a plan to upset AFCB's slick passing and movement. They too whipped in a dangerous cross after six minutes but it was Bournemouth who were looking more comfortable on the ball. Grabban fired over on nine minutes from a Pugh cross and Ritchie's link up play had the home crowd spellbound in admiration of his good touch and positive passing. Ritchie looked calm and assured when pressed at the back and had an air of confidence when creating triangles with Pugh and Arter further up the pitch. I don't think he miss placed a pass all game. Grabban was making several dangerous darting runs in between the Pompey centre halves and right back and on 16 minutes he was right through and passed the keeper but was unable to direct his shot on goal at such speed.

Pompey came thundering back with an attempt on goal themselves. Agyemang tried an ambitious overhead kick just in side the AFCB box but pulled it well wide of the goal. Grabban and Pugh continued to create problems for Pompey. Johannes Ertl was also beginning to make his presence felt more and he tried to bypass the AFCB with a long cross ball to the left wing but Pompey couldn't keep the ball in play.
It was Pugh, Ritchie and Grabban that were running the show. Arter also popped up on the edge of the box supporting the play and had his shot that looked goal bound blocked on 34 minutes.

As we moved towards half time it was Portsmouth that started to get on the front foot. First Racon shot over Jalal's bar, then Adam Reed had Pompey's best chance when he forced Jalal into a save that went for a corner.

Francis also fed Pitman who saw his glancing header come off the bar as Bournemouth registered their closest effort on goal. AFCB certainly weren't having it all their own way though. Arter was brushed off the ball in the middle of the pitch by Akinde, only for Seaborne to come to the rescue.

The second half began with AFCB pressure, but Adam Reed was niggling at Arter and O'Kane in the midfield and forcing them to lose the ball on more than one ocassion and on 47 minutes Jalal was in action again as Akinde fired over. Agyemang then had a header go wide on 54 minutes and Dan Butler also came close on 59 minutes for Pompey. However, after this Pompey pressure and a couple of corners, AFCB broke up the right wing with McQuoid who crossed to Grabban in the box who steadied himself before firing into the bottom right of the goal to put the Cherries one up to rapturous home fan applause on 62 minutes.

Pompey's response was to make  two subs with Agyemang coming off for James Keene and Racon off for Jed Wallace. Pompey's line up resembled more of a 3-4-3 pattern now with Reed pushing up on the left. Keene won a corner in the 71st minute but the ball was fired over the bar. It was a scrappy period of play with Arter giving the ball away much to the displeasure of home fans, but when Pitman held up a ball midway between the half way line and Pompey's box he managed to hook it forward, which Pugh ran on to and he put away AFCB's second on 76 minutes. 

Matt Tubbs enterd the game in place of Grabban after 81 minutes and Pompey subbed Shaun Cooper for Liam Walker. Popmey were still fighting hard and Ritchie had to make a strong saving tackle in the 82nd minute. Arter then made way for Richard Hughes as AFCB looked to play out time. This was followed by MacDonald coming on for Pitman in extra time. The best chance for AFCB to seal the win with a bigger margin came in the 91st minute when Tubbs was one-on-one with the keeper but had his shot saved.

Post-match celebration for AFCB players and management

All in all, though it was a patient but profesional performance by the Cherries with Matt Ritchie my man of the match. AFCB are now just one point off the top of the league which is extremely tight at the top as they find themselves in fourth place. Next up Crewe Alexander away on Tuesday night.

Player Ratings: Jalal (8), Francis (7), Cook (8), Seaborne(7), Ritchie (9*), McQoid (7), Arter (7), O'Kane (7),  Pugh (8), Pitman (7), Grabban (8)

Bookings: Pompey's Butler and Reed

Used AFCB subs: Tubbs (81 for Grabban), Hughes (82 for Arter) and MacDonald (91 for Pitman) 

Referee: Mr A Marriner
Assitant linesman: Mr D Cann and Mr P Bankes

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