Friday, 29 March 2013

Cherries win should have been so much bigger

Match Report
29 March 2013
Colchester Utd 0 V 1 AFCB

Attendance 4747

The visit of AFCB to Colchester was expected to be a battle according to Eddie Howe. He wasn't wrong. The first task was to arrive early and find a parking space in Colchester that would not cost you a second mortgage. Luckily we managed to squeeze into a tight spot on a quiet col-de-sac. Mission one accomplished.

Colchester also have an Eddie - their mascot
The next part of the deployment included a short shuttle bus ride to the Weston Homes Community Stadium and then we had the pleasure of battling the cold elements to see AFCB gather another three points, which to be honest they should have wrapped up by half time.

AFCB players warm up
Eddie Howe only made one change from the last game against Bury with Tommy Elphick coming back into the starting line up to captain the team. Dan Seaborne was the player to miss out. The Cherries had a great amount of support for the game, in excess of 1500
I would say, and they were in great voice for the entire game.

The players come onto the pitch

The players came onto the field through a guard of Jacobean guards with staves at the ready but the battle on the pitch is what we had come to see. Colchester started the brighter with Ibehre taking the first shot in anger, having cut in from the right, but Allsop gathered easily. Matt Ritchie was enjoying some space on the right wing and crossed to Grabban who almost got in on the far post. Ritchie then saw another shot go to the left of the goal as the early exchanges began to excite the crowd.

Colchester hit back with Ibehre and Compton taking shots and Francis manfully blocking. All the best work for the Us was being directed by Clinton Morrison who was feeding players left and right of the centre D of Bournemouth's box.

The Cherries were trying to get Ritchie on the ball at every opportunity. When Pugh managed to get round the back of the U's defence on 11 minutes he pulled back a pass to Lewis Grabban who hit a tame shot in at the keeper to save.

Colchester responded again with Morrisson and Massey having shots blocked, before Ibehre shot wide. Francis was working hard at the back but had moments when he could get forward and he crossed to O'Kane who had a shot charged down. Colchester's Compton also had a header easily saved by Allsop.

This was turning out to be an encounter with lots of opportunities around the boxes but no one was finding enough space to get a clear sight of goal. O'Kane and Grabban were playing smart one-twos, but Grabban could only shoot straight at the keeper on the quarter hour mark.

The wind was against the Cherries in the first half, but they soon felt the wind behind them when Francis' free kick from the right was met with Pitman's cross header pass to Ritchie on the right, who then found Pitman again in the six yard box, and Brett slotted home the first goal to Walker's left on 19 minutes. Let the celebrations begin!

On 22 minutes AFCB had a free kick to defend on their right but Pitman cleared. Brett's all round game was setting him apart from everyone on the pitch. It was then then O'Kane picked up a yellow card for holding back Morrisson on the half way line. A few moments later Eunan came off worst in a midfield crunching tackle with Morrisson and he had to be subbed for Macca on 28 minutes.

Colchester were trying to press and play a fairly high line so Arter had been trying to lob and prod balls forward from midfield for Grabban in particular to try and run on to.

Meanwhile, Eddie Howe was busy scribbling notes on the sidelines as Cherries looked to build on their lead. Arter almost provided the cross for Pugh to do exactly that, but the post came to Colchester's aid.

Tommy Elphick was given a loud cheer then when he made an interception before Massey had a sight of the Cherries' goal. The end of the half saw Bournemouth gaining more possession and seeking that elusive second goal. Daniels and Pugh were charging up the left while Pugh's cross on 39 minutes found Pitman with a free header which was deflected for a corner. Grabban's header from the resulting corner was simply saved.

The end of the half was coming when Arter threaded a great ball through to Grabban who ran some 20 yards with the ball past Colchester's back line before screwing his shot wide of the goal. The whole of the away support sighed in disappointment - that should have been the game, then and there. And Lewis had all of half time to think about the miss!

My half time was particularly pleasant as I bumped into two old school friends who I had not seen since the 1980s! At that time we had been watching Harry Redknapp's Barmy Army reach the second division, I hoped that meeting my old friends was a good omen for this season.

The half time talk for Colchester obviously had them fired up as they came out full of intent, quickly winning a corner and pressuring our back four. Pitman escaped with a run down the right wing, hounding Garmston. Brett hit the deck, although the referee gave nothing much to the anger of the Cherries' support.

Grabban and Ritchie managed to get Francis down the right and he sped past the left back to find himself closing in on goal. As everyone waited for the slide rule cross pass, Francis decided to try his luck, but he held his head in his hands as his hard shot went straight to the keeper.

Arter was next to speed down the left from half way as he found himself with a chance to put the Cherries two up but he couldn't beat Colchester's keeper either. It was at this time when I thought will any of these missed chances going to come back to haunt us? All that Colchester could do though was to blast at goal aimlessly with Massey the next culprit.

Meanwhile, Macca had not really been seen as an attacking force, but when he did break through the centre everyone was yelling at him to ''shoot!'' Sadly he decided to find Ritchie instead and another chance had slipped by.

Bournemouth were really in control now and there was a move that was Premiership quality as Grabban stretched the play diagonally from the right to the left with his run. The ball was crossed over and Pitman dummied it for Arter to run on to, but the shot was saved.

in another move, Co
lchester's Garmston threw himself at the ball when it had been laid back for Ritchie to hit with all his might. The shot would have been on target but Garmston took the full impact of the shot and he did not recover. John White came on to replace Garmston after 64 minutes.

While Colchester were winning the odd corner it was Allsop that was in charge of his box coming out to take cleanly with great authority. Colchester made another sub on 71 minutes with Compton being replaced by Wright, then Morrisson came off and Michael Smith entered the fray on 73 minutes.

Bournemouth had another good spell with Arter firing over and  Elphick not quite getting a clean headed contact from a corner. Colchester were not having much of the ball but when Clifford did take shot he also blazed over to hoots of joy from the Cherry fans.

Bournemouth were next to make a sub with Tubbs replacing the luckless goal shooting boots of Grabban and w
ith Hughes coming on for Pugh, time was nearly up. The referee gave six minutes of extra time. This was played out without much danger, although Pitman managed to get into a conflict with Bond and Bournemouth supporters were screaming for the ref to send Bond off. Wright it was though who picked up a booking though after the ref had sorted things out.

Three points well earned. Allsop had nothing to do virtually all match and while we created enough chances to win six or seven games it was just a shame that the team did not win more comfortably to improve that goal difference. The stats say it all really, AFCB 14 shots and 10 on target, Colchester 9 shots, 3 on target. While Bournemouth did not score a hat load of goals, some of the credit for that must go to Walker in Colchester's goal.

Furthermore, Bournemouth recorded another clean sheet. We move up the league and managed a victory at a ground that has not been that kind to us in the past. I'll take that.

Oh, yes! Almost forgot,  I am glad my prediction was wrong. 1:1 would have been an injustice.

All over, another three points!
Player Ratings

Allsop 7, Francis 7, Cook 7, Elphick 7, Daniels 7, Ritchie 8, Arter 8, Pugh 7, Macca 7, Pitman 9, Grabban 6

AFCB subs not used:

Jalal, Fogden, McQuoid, Seaborne

Colchester Team

Walker, Garmston, Okunghae, Wilson, Thompson, Clifford, Bond, Morrisson, Ibehre, Massey, Compton

We can all look forward to Easter Monday now

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