Sunday, 15 December 2013

Match Report: Cherries give early Xmas gifts to Birmingham 0:2

Match Report
AFCB 0 V 2 Birmingham City
14 December 2014
Attendance: 9256

It was too much to ask for successive wins for AFCB. Even when faced with an opposition that hardly offered anything of a goal threat the Cherries made two sloppy defensive errors which they paid dearly for in a game that they totally dominated in terms of possession and chances. We have been here before. It was a Bolton re-run only Birmingham were not as well organised as Bolton. It didn't matter because they had a goal keeper who would save anything, even when AFCB did get a shot on target.

Who is missing? Oh yeah Elphick again.
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Eddie Howe decided not to change the team from the last game which was a bit of a surprise and only the second time he had made no changes for a following game. In hindsight it was probably a day when Rantie could have made the difference if he had had been used from the start. Meanwhile, Lee Clark made five changes to the Birmingham side, so you can see why Cherry fans were optimistic.

That optimism was shattered as soon as the clock clicked on to 2 minutes and 40 seconds. In that time AFCB had managed to commit defensive suicide with an ill advised  Cook solo run which saw him bring the ball out of defence and pass a Birmingham player or two, only to run into Olly Lee who took the ball off him and passed quickly to Chris Burke, who then spread it wide on the right again to Lee whose early cross to the penalty box had Birmingham players lining up with only Camp to beat. It was such a gift that Andy Shinnie had no hesitation in shooting the ball past Camp's left hand and into the goal to give Birmingham the lead. A shell shocked Dean Court  was open-mouthed! Where was that rock solid defence that we had seen at Reading only a week ago?

Start again! If only we could. AFCB responded well with Pugh winning a corner on six minutes. While there was a claim for handball with Ritchie screaming at the referee, his protests were waved away. Arter then made a lay off to Pugh who had the first AFCB shot on target that Darren Randolph saved comfortably.

Birmingham also had a corner on 7 minutes that saw Zigic have his shot blocked. The game became a bit stop start with Ritchie giving a  free kick away and Paul Caddis booked for a poor tackle on Pugh. Bournemouth's free kick saw Arter blaze well over.

O'Kane was playing well and instrumental in finding Grabban as he ran the channels. For Birmingham there best hope looked like it would come from Captain Chris Burke who was getting into good positions on the r
ight wing.

Pugh was doing equally well for AFCB on the left wing winning a corner on 13 minutes. In fact the corners were starting to mount up with Arter winning another a minute later. There was a groan from the home supporters as Surman missed his volley after Elphick had won the header. Another corner on 16 minutes saw Elphick pulled up for climbing. Then there was another stoppage for Pugh who picked up a head injury that needed some attention off the pitch.

Surman was at the end of a long passing AFCB move but could not get his shot off and settled for another corner. Grabban had a good chance to do better but the ball got stuck under his feet in the box when the corner came through to him and when Arter took a shot it was blocked by Dan Burn.

The pressure on Birmingham's goal was relentless and with Francis swinging in a cross on 21 minutes all of the Family stand stood up thinking Grabban had guided his header into the left corner of the net only to see Randolph manage to push the ball away at full stretch when he had looked beaten.

Even though Birmingham managed to win a corner, their aerial power did not seem such a problem for the Cherries. AFCB were clearly the dominant side but had nothing to show for their efforts. Even Daniles strong run beating two players before being taken out by Kyle Bartley did not lift the mood. Still Bartley picked up a yellow card. The ball was rolled to Francis who saw his shot blocked and when Ritchie had a go the ball smashed into a defender.

The sucker blow came on 33 minutes when Surman lost the ball heading into midfield in his own half. His mistake led to Jesse Lingard seizing the opportunity to play in Nikola Zigic right through the middle and he had no problem in a one-on-one against Camp to slip the ball past him to make it a two-nil lead for the Blues! It was mental defending and there can be no excuses. Make those kind of errors every week and AFCB will be punished.

If any thing the goal brightened Birmingham's play and they started to play better with Shinnie and Burke in particular working well on the right. Caddis also played a good ball in to Shinnie in the box but Cook was able to react in time to snuff the chance out. Birmingham also won a corner on 41 minutes but AFCB cleared with Pugh winning a free kick.

Pugh put in a good cross which Surman could not quite reach with his head, but a better move resulting from O'Kane and Arter saw Grabban have a one-on-one chance on 44 minutes which he put wide! Pugh was the player setting up lots of chances with the number of crosses but AFCB simply weren't benefiting as much as they should. Ritchie hit one of the crosses well and low but Randolph was there again to make the save. There were a couple of late corners with the Cherries heading over but half time had arrived and the only stat that mattered was AFCB 0 Birmingham 2.

AFCB players just didn't look like scoring.
Second Half
Eddie Howe made an immediate substitution second half with Surman being replaced by Ryan Fraser. Birmingham had their tails up and Olly Lee stabbed the first shot of the second period wide. Bournemouth's best chance early on came from Ritchie at the edge of the area on 52 minutes, but the keeper saved well. A few moments later Daniels shot over as AFCB started to ratchet up the pressure. Pugh followed with a shot on the turn in the box that was also excellently saved. Fraser then put in a cross on 56 minutes when everyone was expecting him to shoot. The little Scotsman was livening things up, but when Burke caught him that was another Birmingham player in the book. Rantie was almost the one to benefit from the free kick but again Randolph made the save. 

Birmingham did manage to get away from their goal despite the Barmy Army shouts ringing out. When they did Olly Lee shot over and back the ball came with Fraser's cross being saved by the keeper. Ritchie then picked up a yellow card on the hour mark for a foul on Tom Adeyemi.

Birmingham made a sub on 60 minutes with Burke going off and  McClean came on to replace him on the right wing. Soon  after, Zigic had a shot blocked and Ritchie's later cross saw Grabban head over on the run. While a corner followed a few minutes later for the Cherries the signs were that it just wasn't going to happen in front of goal for them.

Zigic was not doing much better down the other end, because he carried on even when flagged off side. Perhaps he wished he hadn't, because and with an open goal to shoot at he could only hit the post. At least we had something to laugh at!

On 65 minutes Pugh came off for Rantie as Eddie Howe looked for a formation that would work. Fraser now moved to the left wing and Ritchie on the right. Fraser then forced a good save from the keeper.

Birmingham were showing some signs of confidence now and Olly Lee had a shot blocked. While AFCB had most of the play Birmingham were fighting hard and in Adeyemi's case a little too hard as he was given a yellow card for a challenge on Fraser.

Elphick and Cook were even going forward often now and Cook headed wide on 69 minutes. Anywhere that was out of the box was good for Birmingham with McClean booting the ball high and away. Arter won a corner though on 72 minutes with Cook heading wide and another a few minutes later saw Francis head wide.

Birmingham subbed Lingard for Reilly on 75 minutes, which was soon followed by another corner for the Cherries.  Daniels was soon after subbed for Pitman as the Cherries went to three at the back. The pattern was still the same though with Grabban the latest player to shoot wide. The misunderstanding with Francis and Fraser with the ball passed well ahead of Fraser summed up the day for AFCB. It just wasn't going well.

Olly Lee made a pass to McClean with nine minutes left which saw McClean fire well into the back of the South stand. Another Bournemouth corner gave no favourable result for the home crowd and while Cook had a header go over the real waste was a header from Pitman from six yards out that was put wide after a great cross from Francis!

With four minutes of extra time, many of the home crowd had already started to make a move for the exit. But for those who stayed there was just one more kick in the teeth when Fraser burst into the box and had his shot well parried and with Rantie following up and scooping his header towards goal, Randolp managed another miraculous save, stretching some more and keeping it out. It was just Randolph and Birmingham's day.

Another home defeat. This one should have been avoided.

This was by no means AFCB's worse performance of the season. They played some sublime passing football at times and if there had been some one putting in the final ball with a goalscorer on the end of it there would have been plenty to shout about. However, I am more concerned with the poor goals that are being conceded. The Cherries just have to be more careful in their own half. Birmingham offered little threat, but the goals were put on a plate for them. They did not have to work for their goals at all. It was sloppy on both occasions, because the team were not under great pressure either time. They were problems of their own making and the team simply can't afford to do that. 

For all the talent that AFCB have and their great movement and play they have to do the basics right and there are occasions when they are not attentive enough and we keep saying it is going to be costly. The next two games become even more important now and that is added pressure of AFCB's own making, because without those mistakes you could see the team were well worth a point if not all three with their dominance in possession and creative chances. Sadly that counts for nothing though. UTCIAD!

Camp, Francis, Elphick, Cook, Daniels, O'Kane, Ritchie, Arter, Surman, Pugh, Grabban  

Flahavan, Harte, MacDonald, Fraser, Rantie, Yennaris, Pitman

AFCB Ratings
Camp 6, Francis 7, Elphick 6, Cook 5, Daniles 6, O'Kane 7, Ritchie 7,  Arter 6, Surman 6, Pugh 7, Grabban 7 

Randolph, Caddis, Robinson, Adeyemi, Burn, Burke (62 McClean), Lee, Zigic, Lingard (Reilly 75), Shinnie.

Birmingham Subs
Mullins, Doyle, Brown, Bell, Gray, McClean, Reilly,

Birmingham players and fans celebrate their third away win in a row - what a gift.
No wonder Lee Clark was smiling from ear to ear.


  1. I hate to say this but whilst I agree with most of what you say I have to take issue with one thing and that is about Birmingham offering little threat. You miss the point; on the odd occasion they did venture forward they threatened to score! Bournemouth's problem is they can't defend hence your goals against statistics which are dreadful and it is easy to see why. You also flatter to deceive; you could be playing now and still not score. Lumping it into the box at this level is not enough. I note you mention your penalty appeal but fail to mention the blatant hand ball which we could all see from 80 yards away in Birmingham's favour just before half time? Birmingham didn't play that well compared to other recent away performances but still came out on top. Sorry the Cherries were not good enough, plain and simple but you are better than enough teams in this division to survive. The football you play is neat and tidy and easy on the eye but you have to defend better and be more innovative going forward to progress. Good luck for the rest of the season.

  2. No I don't miss the point. The aim of the game is to put the ball in the net and keep them out at the other end and while Birmingham won the game I would not have been happy with the performance if I were a Blues supporter. Any way good luck this season.