Sunday, 29 September 2013

Cherries' form dips as Blackburn record first away win 1:3 (plus Match Day Gallery)

Match Report
AFCB 1 v 3 Blackburn Rovers

28 September 2013

Attendance: 9441

The Cherries looked in good spirits before this game and with a win it would have been possible for them to sneak into the top six, but that was never going to be the case when AFCB met a team that got on top of them right from the start. Even with one wrist in a cast, Jordan Rhodes looked an ominous predator, stalking his prey, while the Cherries were unusually nervous and stuttered rather than getting into gear or finding any flow to their game. By half time the game would be virtually out of sight and while one team would again go down to 10-men, it wasn't going to be to AFCB's advantage this time, although they were much brighter with a man less in the second period.

Bournemouth made one change to the starting line up with Shaun MacDonald coming in for Richard Hughes in central midfield. Ryan Fraser was held back on the bench along with Mohamed Coulibaly and Andrew Surman if required.

Tommy's routine did not bring much luck this time.
From the start it was clear that Blackburn saw this game as very winnable and they set up to counter AFCB's three at the back with a 4-4-2 formation with Best and Rhodes working hard all afternoon to press well up the pitch. After a couple of free kicks either way, it was a nervy start with Blackburn having a throw near AFCB's box that was met by Elphick before falling to a Blackburn player who looped it up harmlessly into Allsop's hands. 

MacDonald was struggling to get the ball out from the back and it was O'Kane who perhaps showed how Bournemouth could have mixed it up with a superb long pass out to Francis. Grabban brought a bit style with a fabulous quick turn and AFCB had a corner on five minutes. Taken short, the ball quickly found its way to Tokelo on the near post and we all thought he had scored a good goal, only to find that an off side flag had gone up. 

Just as we were getting over that, it was Rhodes on the spin and in on goal at the other end and Ward just about did enough to hold him off, with Allsop rushing out to make a scrambled save. Allsop was a bag of nerves and as he slowly went about working who to pass out to he was easily closed on by Leon Best who charged down his kick for a throw in. I'm not sure that Allsop ever recovered all game. He didn't seem at the races and neither did his team mates in the first half.

A few moments later and Best provided a ball into the six yard box from the left wing and in an instance Rhodes had run in front of Cook and, with a diving header in the six yard box, he put Blackburn one up with nine minutes gone. Oh dear! Shades of Ricardo Fuller and the Blackpool game there.

Blackburn were looking more powerful and quicker to everything. So quick in fact that Rantie was given a not so glamorous kick in the face by Evans for which the Blackburn player received the first yellow card. Bournemouth then managed to see Cook get on the end of a Pitman cross which Kean plucked safely out of the air, but at least it was goal bound.

Blackburn soon had possession back and won a corner which Cook headed out only to find King go on one of his mazy runs to earn another corner. Bournemouth were really struggling to get any grip on the game with MacDonald and Pitman guilty of conceding possession too easily with stray passes. Blackburn seemed to be able to turnover play at will. MacDonald's frustration resulted in a yellow for a foul on King.

Rhodes took the free kick on 15 minutes from the edge of the box and Allsop pulled off a diving save. It was a physical game with Blackburn out muscling MacDonald and Elphick at times. On the rare moments Grabban received the ball he looked mighty confident and was easily AFCB's best looking player of the first half. Rantie was not capable of holding the ball up as well while Francis and Elphick at the other end were having to cut out defence splitting passes. Tommy was doing his best but picked up a yellow for a challenge on Leon Best on 22 minutes.

Blackburn were dominating the pattern of play. Pitman was swamped and laid a poor pass off allowing Evans to find himself running right at AFCB's defence and he slotted the ball over to Best who had a simple task of making it 0:2 after 23 minutes. The Blackburn fans were jubilant having not had an away win yet. 

Grabban and Pugh were instrumental in winning a corner on 25 minutes, but the ball came straight back down the pitch and Macca still could not hold on to Best who was causing havoc by now. Ward tried to clear a ball in the box with Allsop helping, just doing enough to punch it away. A glimmer of hope came when Rantie pulled a stunning turn on the centre back, but he then overran the ball. Grabban was having to come deeper to collect the ball and a further problem for Eddie Howe then matured as MacDonald had to go off with a knee injury. He was replaced by Richard Hughes just after the half hour.

As a contest a boxing referee would have stopped the contest by now. Allsop was hesitating and looked dumbfounded whenever standing with the ball in his box, not knowing when to throw it out quickly or when to kick. Even the usually comfortable Hughes was one of those who did not look pleased to receive the ball on the D with an on rushing Blackburn player on his back.

AFCB were still fighting with Pitman and Rantie up the pitch trying to get their shots off, but they were getting squeezed out and when Pitman did cross there would be nobody there on the end. Leon Best was back on the ball and creating more menace with a shot that went over and then working another move into the box by turning Ward and shooting wide. AFCB were being forced to defend most of the time with  Elphick next to make clearance. Best was picked out on the edge of the box for a wicked drive that caused Allsop to make a good save on 38 minutes.

The game was virtually decided then when Elphick chose to shove King in the box, seeing it as the only way he could deal with his energy. It was untidy, probably unnecessary and left the referee with little option but to point towards the spot. Rhodes then stepped up and stroked in one of the laziest penalties you will see, with Allsop diving left and the ball headed for the right hand bottom corner. That was that then, 0:3 and five minutes to half time.The home fans were pretty dismayed by now.

Grabban and Rantie kept the ball at the Blackburn end towards the end of the half with Rantie beating a couple of players before seeing his shot blocked out for a corner. Elphick was the given a yellow having taken down King and disagreeing with the referee more than anything. The first half was one that the Cherries were just going to have to write off.

There is a Full Match Day Gallery - click here.

Second Half
Pitman was relieved of his duties at half time allowing Fraser to come on. The referee was keen to keep the card count up and what seemed on the advice of the Blackburn players after a high kick Hughes found himself on a yellow card, which Eddie Howe later said should not have earned a booking . Grabban again looked our best hope of getting something from the game and had a shot go over. After another speculative effort from Best, the game became a total fiasco for the Cherries when Hughes was given a second yellow on 50 minutes. He didn't even bother to wait to see the red card. 

Grabban dropped back into centre midfield and Tokelo played up front on his own. Allsop was forced to come out to claim in front of Rhodes whose shot went out for a corner. Best then had a break where he ran virtually the length of the pitch before Ward caught up with him on the edge of the box.

AFCB then came so close to getting a goal back. On 56 minutes Francis and Fraser worked the ball up the right wing before finding Rantie who fed the ball on to Pugh on the left and his shot smacked against the left upright. Fraser's follow up was blocked and the chance had gone. Pugh managed a cross moments later when Fraser seemed to be hold back from heading it.

Blackburn made some substitutes on 62 minutes with Best being replaced by Olsson and Evans being replaced by Williamson. AFCB were starting to play the better of the two teams now. A corner from the right almost had the desired effect when Elphick met it on the volley only for Kean to pull off a superb reaction save at  virtually point blank range. It just wasn't going to be our day.

Pugh seemed dead set on seeing Fraser head the ball from one of his crosses. Meanwhile, Lowe was given a yellow card for a challenge on O'Kane. Blackburn were pushing for a fourth goal but Francis made a good covering tackle on 68 minutes. O'Kane showed his skill and composure on the ball more than once or twice in beating players and turning them inside out, but he had had a fairly quiet game.

Another Pugh cross to Fraser was palmed away by the Blackburn keeper for a corner and a resulting cross from Fraser saw the keeper go down holding his hip. Kean did not seem that worried at the time but he was less pleased when, on 74 minutes, Rantie supplied Fraser on a darting run on through the middle, a few moments later, and the young Scot bagged his first goal for the Cherries to the obvious delight of the home fans, stroking the ball home with precision.

While AFCB fans may have hoped for a last 20 minute salvage act there was no further fire from this one spark of life. In fact, Rhodes almost sneaked in again by hitting the post but was caught offside. 

Pugh made way for Coulibaly on 81 minutes and Marrow came on for Blackburn after 84 minutes replacing Lowe. While Rhodes saw another of his shot go just wide on 89 minutes the game that was just about the end of the action. 

AFCB did not get going today until the second 45 minutes. They were pressurised extremely well and beaten to the ball just about everywhere on the pitch. The hesitation from Allsop just sapped any confidence the team had for playing out from the back and with the crowd then getting frustrated and on the players backs for the sloppy passes it went from bad to worse. 

Some days you get the breaks at the right times and the game goes for you. Today, AFCB were beaten by a well organised team that harried and work to get a result. They made Bournemouth look poor and at times we probably were short of our best. Still, you have to accept that AFCB are learning their trade in this league and there will be difficult days like this.     

Allsop, Francis, Cook, Elphick, Ward, Pugh (81 Coulibaly), O'Kane, MacDonald (32 Hughes), Pitman (46 Fraser), Rantie, Grabban.


Flahavan, Harte, Addison, Hughes, Surman, Coulibaly, Fraser, 

Balckburn Rovers
Kean, Kane, Spurr, G Hanley, Dann, Lowe (84 Marrow), King, Evans (63 Williamson), Cairney, Best (63 Olsson), Rhodes. 

Blackburn Rovers Subs
Eastwood, Kilgallon, Morris, Olsson, Williamson, Taylor, Marrow.

Player ratings
Allsop 3, Francis 5, Cook 4, Elphick 4, Ward 5, Pugh 6 (sub Coulibaly 5), O'Kane 4, MacDonald 4 (sub Hughes 4), Pitman 4 (sub Fraser 8), Rantie 5, Grabban 6.

There is a Full Match Day Gallery - click here.

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