Sunday, 8 December 2013

Match Report: Grabban runs rings around Reading - 1:2

Match Report
Reading v AFCB
7 December 2013
Attendance: 20,944 (including 2338 AFCB fans)

Well it's been a long time in coming, but AFCB finally got a win and what's more away from home to Reading - a team that was undefeated at home not only for this season, but since January 2012. There was a 2338 crowd of ecstatic AFCB supporters cheering the players on and they were privileged to see what I felt was by far the best Cherries performance of the season. And yet, even then they had to withstand a barrage of corners and pressure in the first half hour, before turning the game around with two excellent finished before half time. Gone was the inability to shoot and the gifting of chances to the opposition. This was a team that played with unity, resilience and a good amount of flair.

See more pictures on Match Day Gallery.

The teams are on their way.
AFCB look to get their campaign back on track.
Eddie Howe did not shift away too far from his game plan that he had used at QPR, although this time it was carried out far more effectively by the Cherries. In came Eunan O'Kane in midfield instead of Shaun MacDonald and, while playing one up front it was the inspired Lewis Grabban today, rather than Brett Pitman who played on Tuesday night.

Eddie Howe and backroom staff and players on the bench.
There was a fair bit of apprehension as to how well AFCB might do against a team in the top five and the first 20 minutes kind of reinforced most AFCB supporters' fears. Reading came at Bournemouth like a train and attacked particularly down the right wing at first with Garath McCleary, so Charlie Daniels had to be lively on his feet. O'Kane was straight in getting the first of many blocks in before an offside flag gave AFCB the chance to get Ritchie searching for Grabban up front.

Reading soon had the ball back on the right wing before switching to the left and Fraser was forced to concede a corner on 5 minutes as Jordan Obita threatened. The corner was a big scare, as Danny Guthrie took it from the left and it swung in towards goal with Sharp getting his head on it, only for Andrew Surman to hook it off the line! From the next corner from the other side Billy Sharp went down, under a challenge, after his header went wide. The real danger though was when the Southampton-loanee came back on right in front of play and won the ball in the last third off Daniels. But Cook came to the rescue.

After nine minutes, a free kick against Ritchie for a high kick on Hal Robson-Kanu brought the pressure back on the Cherries. Sharp and McCleary got a ball almost to Obita, but Elphick came across to give another corner to Reading. AFCB cleared for a throw and after a cross from Shaun Cummings, Camp came out to catch safely.

Arter then tried a ball over the top for Grabban to chase but it was too strong and went through to the keeper, McCarthy. AFCB were only just beginning to find some rhythm with passing between Daniels and Pugh, while Grabban was running like a dynamo up front and Arter and O'Kane were busy in the tackles. Meanwhile, Elphick and Cook were having to win their headers as Cummings, Obita and McCleary pushed Reading forward relentlessly at times. Everything was happening in Bournemouth's half but Ritchie and Pugh were helping out to make sure the team stayed solid and got behind the ball.

Daniels was caught a bit on his heels after 14 minutes when McCleary broke through, but he recovered to put a challenge in and give Reading yet another corner. Robson-Kanu got stuck then in the corner, before giving AFCB a goal kick. Cook's challenge on McCleary earned him a yellow card after 16 minutes. Reading now tried the long ball to Jordan Obita and Elphick put the ball out for a corner. Reading went for a short corner with Guthrie and Obita, but Ritchie cleared and when Cummings put the ball back in the box Camp caught well.

Camp was having to kick as Reading were closing players off high up the pitch. They soon won the ball back and came down the left with Robson-Kanu, but Francis deflected his cross for a corner on 18 minutes. Pugh and Grabban cleared in turn, before another corner on the right was taken by Obita and Elphick headed away and when McClearly cut inside on the right and let fly with a shot, it went high and wide to Camp's right and out for a goal kick.

O'Kane was now doing better at winning the ball, but as soon as he did Cook made a poor pass to give Reading possession again. Robson-Kanu almost then played in Billy Sharp. While Reading were now looking more for Obita on the left, Francis was shadowing him well.  

Pugh won a free kick on 22 minutes after a good run. Francis took the kick but McCarthy caught it cleanly. Reading were still well on top with the next salvo coming from Cummings but O'Kane intercepted. AFCB had really been under the cosh for the first 20 minutes, but the first glimmer of light came when Surman received the ball from Arter on the edge of the box and while the Bournemouth faithful urged him to shoot, no shot was forthcoming when he was right on the D. A moment later Surman had found Pugh in a good position, but again there was no sign of him pulling the trigger!

Instead, Elphick was back to stop McCleary again. Even though Daniels lost the ball, Elphick was able to clear another cross from McCleary. Reading just weren't getting behind our full backs and Elphick and Cook looked like they could make headed clearances all day long.

AFCB finally then had a spell when they kept the ball for a bit. Half an hour had passed by and if it were a boxing contest AFCB would have had a few standing counts by now, but they were growing in confidence with Reading drawing a blank. Pugh was starting to find lots of space on the left and Daniels was starting to push forward more. Things picked up even more when Francis won a header and Surman passed to Grabban who turned and shot straight away but it went just over on 35 minutes. 

AFCB started to hold their line a bit higher and Robson-Kanu was caught offside. A further handicap for Reading came when Ritchie passed to O'Kane, who was fouled by the Mahican haired Guthrie who received a yellow card on 36 minutes. The best was yet to come though. From Daniels' cross, Elphick and Cook rose - with Cook making the valuable header, which the keeper saved, but spilt - and with Cook getting another foot to the ball, on his follow through, it left the chance for Grabban, who was on hand to lash the ball into the top left corner from all of two yards out. It was one-nil to the seasiders after 37 minutes and certainly against the run of play!!

AFCB fans were in ecstasy after that. A few free kicks followed the restarts to both sides and Guthrie misplaced a pass to Grabban, which he got away with. Yet, the next AFCB attack was more devastating. Grabban burst down the left wing and crossed the ball level with the 18 yard box which Surman dummied, allowing Ritchie to receive the ball on the D of the box and while he fainted at first to his left, he then came back on his right foot and buried the ball right into the bottom left corner of the goal. I think the move back Ritchie made had brought the three Reading defenders right in line with the keeper's view and McCarthy just didn't get anywhere near the ball with his despairing dive - the ball flew in to make it 0:2.

The last six minutes of the half were a bit of a blur because I was over celebrating a bit. Still, AFCB kept Reading at bay with some good defending from Arter and Elphick. Reading looked exhausted, they had tried everything and when Guthrie over hit a ball to Robson-Kanu, it was as if the air just sucked out of them.
The players come back out after half time.
Second Half

That was the last we saw of Hal Robson-Kanu who was replaced at half time by the Russian striker, Pavel Pogrebnyak. Elphick gave a early foul on Pogrebnyak. The scene looked pretty set now for the second half pattern of play. Reading would attack and AFCB would look to spring a break with every one knowing the next goal was vital. AFCB looked tokeep Reading in their half when they could to win the ball high up the pitch. Surman was starting to have much more influence in the middle and his tenaciousness enabled Pugh to get on the ball and Ritchie then shot over on 48 minutes. 

Ritchie then gave away a free kick on Obita, but AFCB safely cleared and it was Grabban caught offside moments later. Reading came back and won a corner off Tommy Elphick on 52 minutes. Gorkss had his shot blocked before Obita had a wild shot that went high and wide.

Surman's late tackle on McCleary meant he picked up a yellow card near the centre circle. Francis cleared before O'Kane was caught up by Daniel Williams tackling him. Reading won a couple of free kicks for challenges on McCleary by O'Kane and Cook but nothing came of them. 

AFCB's next good move came on 58 minutes when Arter played in Grabban whose shot deflected off of Pearce for a corner. Cook won the header and Pugh slid in but could not connect. Pogrebnyak was keeping Elphick and Francis busy, but he was never able to break through. Surman then fouled Guthrie on the hour. While Pogrebnyak won the header, Camp collected having pushed Francis out of the way.

Bournemouth's next best move came when Arter fed a blind pass to Pugh who shot wide on 65 minutes. AFCB supporters were really enjoying things now as the singing was in full flow. Even Eddie was pleased to give a wave. Reading then took McCleary off and brought on Royston Drenthe.

O'Kane went on a great little run into the Reading half, covering some 50 yards. Things were getting a bit physical with Reading now knowing that the clock was running down. Arter was trying his one-twos around the box and Surman was even letting shots go, one of which Grabban almost reached to redirect but it went wide.

The ref was letting some things go now as Ritchie was flattened and play went on. AFCB were looking for the killer blow and Pugh was next to almost get on the end of Grabban's cross come shot across the box. 

Francis handled the ball on 76 minutes but Reading did not benefit from the free kick. This was turning into a workmanlike performance now for the Cherries. They were well in control with time running out. AFCB brought on Fraser for Ritchie with 14 minutes to go.

Reading had a dangerous ball in from Obita then that Francis cleared. Soon after Reading won a corner. On the break though Arter fed Daniels who got to the byline and as he blasted a shot at McCarthy the parry out went straight to Fraser who tried a diving header at full pelt but nodded wide. Grabban was then subbed to a standing ovation as Pitman came on. Reading also took off Gorkss and brought on Adam Le Fondre for the last 10 minutes.

Drenthe was showing his ability by beating three AFCB players as if they were statues on the right wing, but thankfully Pogrebnyak was offside. Arter then had a shot go wide as both teams stepped up the pace. Drenthe was then yellow carded. All AFCB wanted to do was run to the corners now. Pitman did exactly that after he had been fouled, but with four minutes to go he had a shot that just went wide.
As the 90 minutes was up all seemed well despite Drenthe running in from the right wing across goal on the box and eventually getting a shot off, but the shot rebounded off of Elphick and Cook and fell to Adam Le Fondre, who smashed it into the net to make it 1:2. MacDonald came on immediately to replace O'Kane. A frantic last three minutes would be played out, but it was AFCB's day - our big day out as Reading fans called it. 

Great unity from the team shown today.
Eddie, Jason and the team thank the huge travelling contingent of AFCB fans.

AFCB needed this victory as much as any little boy or girl wanted Christmas day to be here tomorrow. It was that kind of desire and togetherness that made this a very pleasing result despite not quite keeping a clean sheet. Reading are a good team and AFCB had to work hard for the win. The back four had been steadfast in not letting the Royals get behind them and to the byline and when crosses did come in Elphick and Cook were always there first. Camp only really had the Sharp header and Le Fondre's goal to try and save all afternoon. In midfield I though Surman improved on Tuesday night's game and started to lead like the player we know he can be. O'Kane was excellent in picking up balls in front of the back four and Ritchie is just the best buy that the club has made in recent years. His talent seems limitless and while his left foot is sumptuous, he can also score with his right. 

However, man of the match for AFCB was Lewis Grabban. He ran Reading's defence ragged for 80 minutes and he got his goal. It was a superb performance running into the corners and bringing his team mates into play constantly. Eddie has Grabban playing in the right way in the right position and this tactic will bring more good days for AFCB in the future.

We did enjoy our big day out!
Camp, Francis, Cook, Elphick, Daniels, Ritchie (Fraser 76), O'Kane (MacDonald 92), Arter, Surman, Pugh, Grabban (Pitman 80)

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

AFCB Ratings
Camp 6, Francis 7, Cook 7, Elphick 8, Daniels 8, Ritchie 8, O'Kane7, Arter 7, Surman 7, Pugh 7, Grabban 9. 

McCarthy, Gunter, Cummings, Guthrie, Gorkss (Le Fondre 80), Pearce, Williams, Obita, Sharp, McCleary (Drenthe 66), Robson-Kanu (Pogrebnyak 45)

Reading Subs
Federici, Drenthe, Pogrebnyak, Le Fondre, Kelly, McAnuff, Blackman 


  1. What a wonderful result!! Goes saying it came as a huge surprise to beat Reading at the Madstad. But was it? All season, ok, well much of it, I've been saying we're very close to being a very good side, and yesterday it showed that even more. True I wasn't able to be there, but listening it didn't sound like a fluke. The difference I'd say were two fold, 1) having Matt Richie back, 2) it didn't seem there was anyone putting in a poor performance, and in recent weeks you could probably name several. Having Matt fittish may be much of the reason behind it, plus his two goals in three games has to be a lift. It's also proof, not that it's needed, we have to be at our best every game to get results like this, but results like this need not be one off's, as we're more than capable. Although I still say we need a few signings in January, yesterday doesn't change that, but it's a fantastic boost coming into what is a very busy period. Such an exciting season, loving every second!!! UTCIAD

  2. Things are definitely looking more positive after a hard few weeks. It was very enjoyable yesterday and I hope we can have some more days like that.