Saturday, 30 November 2013

Barnes' stunner deprives Cherries of derby win 1:1

Match Report
AFCB 1 v Brighton & Hove Albion 1
30 November 2013
Attendance: 9870

There was a chill in the air at the Goldsands stadium today. AFCB had not won at home since their miraculous come back against Millwall last month, and the need for a victory was never more clear. It looked like Matt Ritchie had given the home fans exactly what they required when he struck the back of the net with a superb drive after a free kick, just before the half hour. But Brighton are a hardy Championship team and a magnificent strike by Ashley Barnes deprived the Cherries of all the spoils, with the SKY cameras looking on.

AFCB and Brighton are ready to get the match started.
SKYSports  finally comes back to Dean Court.
Eddie Howe pulled a bit of a fast one in his team selection by revealing that, former Brighton player, Steve Cook had fully recovered from his injury time knock last match and would line up next to captain Tommy Elphick. O'Kane kept his place in the middle alongside Harry Arter. With Lee Camp retained for another month he kept his place in goal and, with Matt Ritchie and Ryan Fraser fit for selection, the only other surprise was Pitman and Rantie starting up front with Lewis Grabban's illness keeping him out of the squad. On the bench too was Arsenal's Nico Yennaris, who had just been captured by the Cherries on loan until January.

The match began in typical, frantic activity for a derby with end-to-end attacking and jostling for the ball. Cook began as he was to do most of the match winning headers, while Rantie was busy making early runs into the Brighton half. Ritchie gave away one of the early fouls, but he was soon up the other end driving in a cross past Matthew Upson, which Thomasz Kuszczak got down to save.

The next chance came with Rantie being held back and a free kick, which Elphick tried to knock down for Pitman, but the ball sped out of play. Brighton's Stephen Ward tried a long ball from the back which Ashley Barnes chased up the left wing, but Lee Camp shepherded the ball out of play, much to Barnes' annoyance as he gave Camp a shove in the back for his trouble.

Craig Conway was getting some good early touches on the left wing and he had a cross collected by Camp. Cook looked for Fraser on the break, but he was fouled by Indigo Calderon to give the Cherries a free kick on 9 minutes. Unfortunately, Pitman's kick did not clear the first defender.

The sight of Rohan Ince on the pitch was quite something as he stood head and shoulders above everyone else, but that did not stop Elphick from beating him in the air. Bournemouth's players were getting run off the ball with Brighton's physical style, and the referee (Jonathan moss) was determined to give no yellow cards all match if he could help it. But no team was dominant in this period. Bournemouth did win a corner from O'Kane's aggression in the 13 minute as he flew in for a tackle, but the corner fell out again to Francis who drove in a wicked cross that eventually looped up off of players in the box for the keeper to collect.

Brighton were certainly looking for Craig Conway on the left as an out ball, but failed to find him more often than not. For AFCB it was Daniels who was driving with the ball and when he found Fraser who crossed, Pitman connected with an ambitious overhead kick, but straight at Kuszczak.

Fifteen minutes had passed already. Now Barnes and Conway were on the break and Jake Forster-Caskey took a shot from outside the box, which went wide. Arter and Pitman sandwiched Forster-Caskey a moment later on half way but gave away a foul. David Lopez made a cross for Ince whose shot was blocked, but Brighton were getting more into the game now.

Cook and Barnes had a head clash on 18 minutes as they both went for the ball but both got up okay. The referee was finding it hard to work out when players were being fouled or just falling over. He did give a foul on Rantie one minute, but would then ignore a more blatant foul on him the next. O'Kane and Arter were working hard in midfield, but a cross from Forster-Caskey on the left gave Calderon a good chance to shoot. Thankfully he shot well over.

O'Kane then started a good AFCB move with Ritchie and then Francis ending up passing to Pitman, who headed wide. Andrew Crofts managed to cross to Ward a moment later who thundered a shot from a tight angle on the left, almost parallel with goal, which Camp blocked out.

On the break, Rantie and Pitman played the ball to Ritchie high up the pitch when he was fouled. The resulting free kick on 29 minutes opened the scoring. Daniels laid the ball off for Ritchie who shot, true and hard, through a gap and the Cherries were one up!

A few moments later it could have easily been 2:0 but for Thomasz Kuszczak. Fraser and Daniels had been working their way up the left wing when the ball was crossed right across the Brighton goal, with Ritchie running in on the blind side. His instantaneous touch on the ball, sent it towards goal, but Kuszczak made an instinctive save to keep the score at 1:0.

Brighton won a corner on 33 minutes which Camp caught cleanly. Kuszczak then did the same on a Bournemouth corner a minute later. Fraser then got caught in possession by Calderon, but the resulting cross from Conway was wild.

Meanwhile, Rantie was having no luck, even when he was held he was not given a free kick. However, Pitman did win a free kick on 39 minutes for a shove in the back on the edge of the box. Ritchie's shot was deflected for a corner and while Francis planted a header back across the face of the goal, the ball ended up going wide. Bournemouth had played well first half and worked hard for each other with Ritchie being the star man.

Players warm up at half time.
The Mayor goes for a half time walk on the pitch.
Second half

The second half saw Forster-Caskey being replaced by Birdcutt for Brighton. Pitman swing in an early cross from the left wing but it was well over Rantie's head. A few moments later Brighton had a better chance with Ince and Lopez linking to find Crofts in space, but he blazed over. Then AFCB had another chance to increase their lead with Ritchie's cross getting a toe poke from Pitman that had Kuszczak scrambling.

Arter then had a chance but shot well over from outside the box. Pitman also almost got in clear after a Rantie touch, but Calderon nipped in ahead of him. Andrew Crofts was then flattened by O'Kane but no free kick was given. AFCB played on with a break but, because Crofts stayed down, play was suddenly stopped, which sent the home crowd mad. Ritchie then went in hard on a Brighton player but no card was shown.

The Brighton players were soon keen to get going again and after a moments hesitation, on 55 minutes, the ball landed with Ashley Barnes on the edge of the Bournemouth box. There was no time to close him down and as the ball sat up for him he belted it on the turn, right into the top left corner of the goal 1:1. Camp could only watch it fly in. Sometimes the shot is just struck to well.

Ince was now striding through midfield and had a shot go wide, only to be followed by a long ball to Barnes that had he controlled, it would have given him a great chance, with only Camp to beat. The game became a bit scrappy with both teams now looking for a killer blow.

On 64 minutes Brighton brought on Andrea Orlandi and took off David Lopez. AFCB brought on Wes Thomas for Tokelo Rantie on 66 minutes, while Brighton subbed Ince and brought on Keith Andrews just a minute later.

Craig Conway was still doing well on the left wing and sending in crosses for Brighton, but luckily no one was getting on the end of this one which went right across Bournemouth's goalmouth. To relieve the pressure Fraser was taken off and Pugh came on after 70 minutes. Elphick was making more challenges now, keeping out Conway and Barnes who both made dangerous runs towards the box when they could.

But AFCB had a great chance on 73 minutes when O'Kane's strong run found Pitman who was in against the keeper, but Kuszczak made the save. From the corner Ritchie took a shot from 25 yards which led to another corner. Thomas was making some good runs but Pitman's passing was a bit wayward at times, when it could have made all the difference.

Elphick made another great, last-man challenge on Conway I think on 77 minutes. AFCB were also going for the win with Pugh doing a great back heel for Pitman on the left edge of the box, but even with space in front of him he smashed his shot over.

Brighton had a corner with 10 minutes to go which Elphick cleared and a second that Camp caught. There was something of a kerfuffle afterwards as Ashley Barnes stopped Camp from throwing out the ball and Camp swung his arm in retaliation to try and get him off. Barnes hit the deck, but either the ref did not see it clearly or missed the incident, much to Barnes' and the Brighton supporters fury. Camp played up to the Brighton fans by holding his arms out and acting all innocent, but I think he was lucky and could have been sent off.

Matthew Upson and Kuszczak almost made a horrendous mistake as they tried to clear a ball with Thomas chasing them down, but Upson's strong back pass was somehow hastily cleared by Kuszczak before Thomas could prosper.

Camp also had to make a low smart save near the end when Conway tried his luck.The last major incident was Rantie getting caught by Upson who collected the solitary yellow card of the game. But even in the last minute of extra time AFCB kept trying with Ritchie taking a shot, which went just wide.

While AFCB did not get the win we so wanted and needed this, was an improvement again on the previous home match. There were more chances created and at least there were some shots on goal. The back line with Cook and Elphick in front of Camp is looking solid and Ritchie is the talisman of the team since his return. I am so glad that Ritchie still makes those late runs into the box, he is a real goal threat and will score a few important goals this season. He lifted the whole teams performance, but don't underestimate the role that Tommy Elphick played today. Elphick was calmness personified at the back and almost back to his imperious old self. It was like old times with Cook also having a strong game.

Camp, Francis, Elphick, Cook, Daniels, Ritchie, O'Kane, Arter, Fraser (Pugh 71) , Pitman, Rantie (Thomas 67).
Flahavan, Surman, Pugh, Thomas, Harte, MacDonland, Yennaris

AFCB Ratings

Camp 6, Francis 6, Elphick 8, Cook 7, Daniels 6, Ritchie 8, O'Kane 6, Arter 6, Fraser 6, Pitman 6, Rantie 6. 

Kuszczak, Calderon, Ward, Ince Greer, Upson, Forster-Caskey (Birdcutt 45), Crofts, Barnes, Lopez (Orlandi 65), Conway.

Brighton Subs
Andrews, El Abd, Agustein, Birdcutt, Orlandi, Ankergren, Lita  

Thomas Kuszczakand Matt Ritchie shake hands after the game.
A point gained for AFCB.

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