Saturday, 10 August 2013

Hornets sting Bournemouth for six

Watford 6 v 1 AFCB
10 August 2013
Attendance 16,295

Someone got here before us!
Vicarage Road was always going to be a tough examination of AFCB's Championship credentials and in the first half I think it is more than fair to say they not only gave as good as they got but perhaps even edged the first 45 minutes. Yet, the second half turned into somewhat of a rout as Watford turned the screw by showing how Championship strikers go about their finishing work when they are presented with clear opportunities. It was not a poor AFCB performance it was an eye-opener on how good you need to be to get to the top of the league next May.
A very busy Vicarage Road.
The Cherries lined up with Grabban as a lone striker with five across the middle. But instead of protecting the back four with the more defensive-minded Hughes, Howe decided to set out his stool by including Surman instead. Thomas might have felt a bit unlucky to be on the bench but it was the sensible thing to do with this weeks events and even Pitman found himself in a supporting sub role.

Watford with Troy Deeney and Forestieri taking the challenge to the Cherries up front. Even while Deeney was to go on to score three, it was Ikechi Anya that really looked to pull the Cherries apart in my view.  

The teams are out and AFCB are in their white away kit.
Bournemouth did not start well giving a free kick away in the centre, just in front of their box, in the opening minutes. Luckily McGugan hit it straight at Allsop. What were all those words Arter said on the end of the season video about not picking up needless yellow cards? Ah, well less than three minutes in and he picked up his second in two weeks with a reckless challenge in the oppositions half.   

There is no more brighter light shining on the pitch for AFCB this season than Ryan Fraser. He was immediately into the action chasing down Watford's left winger. Watford were soon shouting for handball against Shaun MacDonald but to know avail. Keeping Deeney out of the box was already proving tricky as he picked up the odd foul.

On 9 minutes the referee decide to change the ball to lots of jeers from the crowd. I hoped it might get AFCB on the ball more and sure enough Pugh caught a defender napping and let off a shot from the left, outside the box, which went narrowly over Watford's bar, with Almunia at full stretch. Grabban then had an effort just go wide after 12 minutes, when Almunia punched out poorly after a Cook long throw. Bournemouth were starting to look more than comfortable playing their game. Grabban was particularly looking lively. 

Abdi was already supplying Anya on the left wing who saw his shot deflected for a corner. Form the resulting corner Watford went one up as Angella seemed to whip the ball home, on 13 minutes, when AFCB had been slow to clear the danger. The signs were already there that Francis was going to have a hard working day battling against Anya.

Grabban got a shot off after a Surman pass that the keeper turned away for a corner. The move had included Arter, Daniels Pugh and Fraser in what was probably AFCB's best bit of play up until then. The corner saw Arter dummy the ball near the centre spot an Grabban looked favourite to slot it home, but he hit a defender before Pugh shot over.

Bournemouth had another corner from the left on 20 minutes when Grabban shot wide. Watford were strong on the counter with Deeney striking well over a couple of minutes later. At the other end the Cherries were screaming for a penalty as Ryan Fraser went down from Casetti's challenge in the box, but too softly according to the ref! Grabban was almost through a moment later and Cook's long throws to Elliott Ward were giving Almunia some uncomfortable moments with Arter having a subsequent shot blocked.

It was at this point that Harry the Hornet (Watford's mascot) got his big drum out as the home crowd support was virtually non-existent. All it seemed to do was raise AFCB's game as Fraser went close with a near post effort that Almunia was thankful to grab hold of safely. 

Eddie Howe was looking calm but resplendent in his red top on the touch line as Bournemouth looked to press again. Fraser this time whipped in the ball right across the six yard area and it was a simple tap in for Grabban to bring the Cherries level at 1:1 after some 30 minutes.

Grabban was causing some problems now and was almost in again but had to settle for a corner. Fraser too was probably one of Bournemouth's liveliest players. Since the equaliser went in Bournemouth were certainly in the ascendancy with the way supporters cheering them on. The ball was being passed quickly and it was Watford now doing the chasing. Arter had his shot deflected on 40 minutes, but for the next few moments it was Watford's Forrestieri and McGugan on the left that were giving Francis a tough time. The breakaway was led by Surman who had opportunities to threaten but it fizzled out for another Cook long throw.

It was back down the other end again as Faraoni brought out a good save from Allsop. Deeney then tried to thread his way through on the edge of Bournemouth's box and when he had a shot it must have hit the hand of a white shirt's hand as Watford werr awarded a fdangerously positioned free kick, with seconds to go before half time. Abdi took the kick but it was straight at Allsop. The score at half time then was 1:1.
Harry the Hornet did his best to get Watford fans singing.
Second Half

There was no need to change things at half time. Bournemouth were playing well. The Hornet's came out in the second half playing a few more long balls and looking to get AFCB defenders to turn more. Long balls were fired into Deeney, one which almost resulted in Foresiteri sneaking in a good shot but it was blocked by Francis and cannoned up into the air for Allsop to claim easily. Again Deeney was picked up with a long diagonal ball. It looked a definite plan of action or instruction from Zola at half time. Meanwhile, Faraoni found himself in the book after chopping Arter down on 48 minutes. 

Pugh tried a good 1-2 with Grabban but his shot was deflected. Watford were soon back on the long ball and when Francis came across with a shoulder barge to ensure the ball would run out before Faraoni,  I think it was, could make anything of it. The ref blew for an unfair challenge. The free kick seemed harsh but from it, Angella rose well above every one else, on the far post, and headed home to make it 2:1 on 53 minutes.

Howe immediately made a sub with Daniels being replaced by Ian Harte. Moments later it was Deeney celebrating as he raced into the box on the left holding off Cook to place a shot across Allsop and into the bottom corner on 56 minutes. the game had turned an instance to become 3:1 and the Bournemouth players were left wondering exactly what had hit them. 

There was no respite now, Watford were in full flow with AFCB players looking stretched all over the pitch. Deeney had another shot blocked while Forestieri had the confidence to go for an overhead kick that Allsop saved. Watford were breaking at pace with Anya blazing down the left before hitting a shot just inches wide of the left upright.

Bournemouth brought on Pitman for MacDonald on 61 minutes when perhaps they would have been better trying to stem the flow with a more defensive player. But that just wasn't in Howe's thinking. He wanted to go and score and make it a real knockout contest. Anya now was exploiting the space and giving Francis a lot of work.

Watford took off Faraoni and brought on Pudil on 65 minutes. Anya linked up with McGugan then on right side and McGugan made it 4:1 with more clinical finishing on 66 minutes.

AFCB did not give up fighting and Pugh was next to fire a ball across the Watford penalty area. With the home support remaining quiet it was time for the Seasiders to remind them that they were winning 4: 1. Only Harry the Hornet seemed to realise this.

On 68 minutes Watford replaced Forestieri with Fabbrini and AFCB brought on O'Kane for Pugh. Arter by now was clearly annoyed and banged a shot high and wide into the Rookery End stand. Anya thought he would try his luck on the other side of the pitch as he had tormented Francis enough.

O'Kane was busying himself in midfield and keeping the Cherries ticking over. Pitman too was industrious when he came on. When Arter was caught on 75 minutes play slowed and Watford made another sub with McGugan off and Battocchio coming on. Fraser then picked up a head injury.

Watford were still going forward and Anya fired another shot that Allsop had to save. At the other end Bournemouth were getting more desperate to get another goal and Fraser almost supplied the perfect ball in for Surman but, when it seemed easier to score than miss, the ball was somehow deflected for a corner on 80 minutes.

Ward was doing his best to keep Deeney quiet at the other end while Casetti picked up a yellow for a challenge on Arter in the centre circle on 86 minutes. The game was coming to an end with 88 minutes gone, but Watford still had some more surprises for AFCB with Ward making a clearance that only found Deeney, who then danced around the edge of the box before letting go with a stunning shot that smashed in off the right post, having split a couple of players almost clean in two. 

Just to rub AFCB faces in it, the four minutes of extra time did not pass quietly either. Cook was adjudged to bring down Fabbrini unfairly in the box and it was left for troy Deeney to step up and claim his hat-trick as Allsop was sent the wrong way from the 12 yard spot.

The score line of 6:1 says AFCB took a real hammering and any one reading teh result would say AFCB could not have been in this game. But that is far from the truth. Bournemouth were very much in the match with 50 minutes gone and if there is a lesson to be learnt it is not to give needless free kicks away firstly. There were several in the game including one in the opening minutes while another led to Watford's second goal. The opposition are going to try and turn our defenders and in the second half there were too many gaps to plug when balls were sent long and  in between our centre halves and full backs. A scoreline of 3:1 would perhaps be more a reflection on how I thought we competed, but it was six. Some of that is down to not making the right decisions at the back on occasions. However, AFCB were up against some of the best attacking players in the division and it does make me feel that the leadership of Tommy Elphick would be a big help min our next game against Wigan. I can't blame Allsop for any of the goals and I hope his confidence will be okay.

Let's put this one behind us. Watford are a good team that will be fighting for promotion and now we know what the standard must be when we play away from home. UTCIAD.  

AFC Bournemouth
Allsop, Francis, Cook, Ward, Daniels (Harte 55), Fraser, Arter, MacDonald (Pitman 61), Surman, Pugh (O'Kane 69), Grabban.

AFCB Subs: Flahavan, Hughes, Okane, Harte, Pitman, Thomas, Stockley. 

Goals: Grabban (30)

Player Ratings
Allsop 6, Francis 6, Cook 5, Ward 5, Daniels 5, Arter 5, Fraser 7, MacDonald 5, Surman 5, Pugh 5, Grabban 7. 

Almunia, Angella, Doyle, Casetti, McGugan (75 Battocchio), Faraoni (65 Pudil), Anya, Abdi, Iriney, Deeney, Forestieri (68 Fabbrini).

Watford Subs: Bond, Ekstrand, Pudil, Battocchio, Acuna, Fabbrini, Smith. 

Goals:Angella (13, 53), Deeney (56, 88,90), McGugan (66). 

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