Sunday, 19 January 2014

Reunited Grabban has penalty saved by Almunia

AFCB 1 v 1 Watford
18 January 2014
Attendance 10,333 (including 1423 Watford fans)

The teams are led out at the Goldsands stadium.
Who would have believed that Lewis Grabban would be reunited with his team mates at the end of this week to try and secure some points against a Watford side, who did everything they could to make life difficult for a Bournemouth team that has learnt to compete well in the Championship. A double penalty award had given Lewis Grabban every chance to claim all three points for the Cherries, but a determined Almunia, who gave away the second penalty, made a mends for his mistake and left Cherry fans disappointed when they had most of the opportunities in a second half, after the Hornets were reduced to 10 men.

Watford get ready to greet the AFCB players.
It might have been hard for some strikers to come back into the team after having the last few days in talks with another team over a potential move, but Lewis Grabban has shown that he is a true professional and has even signed a new contract. Marc Pugh also came back into the team on the left wing and Lee Camp kept goal for the Cherries. AFCB began 4-1-4-1 while Watford set up as a 4-4-2. More pictures from the day can be found on Match Day Gallery.
Watford switched ends as they wanted AFCB supporters
to get a good view of their yellow shirts while they were clean. 
Players were greeted with another day of torrential rain and the action was a bit stop/start with early fouls by Angel on Pugh and Arter on Faraoni. Even when Deeney thought he had an early chance, he was flagged offside and Camp saved in any case. AFCB began with their patient passing style as Ritchie, Arter and O'Kane got on the ball.

Watford Fabbrini was showing well early on and was looking to play in McGugan and Deeney. O'Kane was carrying out the ball from defence fairly regularly  looking for Grabban's runs. A foul on Pugh by Faraoni gave AFCB a chance to get forward and the first corner quickly followed with the Cherries attacking the Steve Fletcher end. Arter protected the ball as Watford defenders ran out and O'Kane just failed to get a shot away, but when it came back to Francis his drive was blocked and Watford broke with Battocchio. The move quickly reached McGugan and as he powered towards goal on 10 minutes. I feared the worse, but he slipped his sot well wide of the left upright - a lucky escape! Meanwhile, Ritchie had picked up a yellow for his challenge on a Watford player.  

AFCB's next goal effort was contrived by Ritchie who passed to Pugh and his deflected shot was saved by Almunia on 12 minutes. Ward was keeping Faraoni as quiet as he could and Daniels and Pugh looked Bournemouth's best chance of opening up the hornets on the left wing.

Watford though had a corner on 16 minutes which Ward headed away and the Camp moved in ahead of Deeney, when Faraoni had played the ball back in. Arter next fouled Fabbrini and AFCB were on the defensive. 

Bournemouth were coming away with the ball well though and started to put more pressure on the Watford goal. Hall made a clearance that must have been similar to watching the shuttle go up at Cape Canaverel, but it eventually fell out of orbit. O'Kane was quick to pounce on the ball and his pass to Daniels was moved on to Surman who shot agonisingly wide.

AFCB were playing some good football but were finding it hard to get up and support quickly when Arter broke. A moments rest came on 24 minutes when Iriney went down. He tried to continue but had to be subbed with Abdi coming on for him. AFCB continued with their intricate passing, Ritchie chesting the ball gloriously on before Daniels blasted a shot over. A few moments later it was Grabban who got in behind and pulled back a ball for Ritchie to hit, but it was deflected over for a corner.

Almunia chose to wave a fist at the cross and Watford were soon on the attack with Battocchio having his shot from the edge of the box pushed away for a corner with Camp making a smart save, down low. Camp also caught the subsequent corner kick.

O'Kane led the next AFCB attack with Daniels, Pugh and Francis getting involved, before Surman and O'Kane fed Pugh who shot well over from the best shooting position so far for AFCB. With 35 minutes gone something out of nothing started on the touchline near half way as Arter and Faraoni swapped words and Faraoni even raised his hands to Arter's face. After the two dugouts also exchanged words the ref hauled the players over to calm things down.

Hall and Angella were thwarting AFCB's attacks well in the box and even with a Cherries corner on 40 minutes Almunia cleared any danger. It was Watford that were to end the half the stronger with Deeney crossing for Battocchio and Angella finding Fabbrini who shot on the turn but well over. Deeney was particularly busy winning back the ball well at times, but when he played in McGugan he was offside. 

While Ritchie had another shot put wide on 44 minutes the game turned significantly when Elphick pulled back a Watford player on the left wing. The resulting free kick was headed in by Angella and the Cherries found themselves 0:1 down right on half time.
Some one told the ground staff that forking the pitch at
Dean Court was like being on a sandy beach in the Bahamas.
Second Half

Watford came out strongly with Deeney having the first shot deflected for a corner. The rain was really driving down now and I was waiting to see puddles form on the pitch, but the surface remained playable. AFCB's first shot this half came from Ritchie on 47 minutes but it was wide.

McGugan was subbed for Murray on 50 minutes as Watford looked to be more solid. Watford's had a corner soon after, but little seemed to be happening for AFCB with the final pass going missing in the box. Daniels came close to changing that with a one-two with Pugh, but his shot was blocked. 

Things improved further when O'Kane could not get his shot away but slipped a ball through for Grabban and as Hall held him back by the shirt and Ekstrand came in from the side. The assistant referee signalled for a penalty. While Watford players did their best to protest the referee went with the assistant referee and sent Angella off. They didn't get the right offending player there. Meanwhile, Grabban put the ball on the spot and calmly scored to Almunia's left on 62 minutes. It was 1:1 - game on!

AFCB had their tails up now and were pressing Watford back. Surman released a beautifully crafted curling shot that went just wide of Almunia's right post. Arter then shot wide after a Bournemouth corner. AFCB were looking more threatening now and when O'Kane sped through the middle and released Pugh on 69 minutes. It appeared that Pugh just had Almunia to beat and while it looked like he was clear to slot home, but he went down late I under Hall and Almunia's challenge. No doubt Watford fans viewed it as a dive, and it did look very suspicious having seen the replay. There was a yellow smoke bomb thrown on to the pitch as Watford supporters protested and Almunia calmly removed the object from the pitch. Referee Carl Boyeson was in no doubt and pointed to the spot and yet did not send either Hall or Almunia off. That was significant because the former Arsenal keeper made a good save and a barrage of follow ups from Ritchie and O'Kane, which failed to hit the target.

Ward started to get forward more now and he headed over on 73 minutes. Francis gave away a free kick then on Fabbrini, but a Watford player was soon offside and Pugh was doing a good defensive job. Pitman and Rantie then joined the game as Pugh and Surman were replaced with 12 minutes to go. A minute later Fabbrini was replaced by Anya.

AFCB were pushing for a winner with Pitman missing a sharp chance and Watford defending a corner well. Almunia spilled a shot from Ritchie but Pitman was yellow carded on the follow up for his challenge on the keeper. Rantie looked like he was going to be quick enough to get away at some point. A corner on 82 minutes gave him a chance but his effort was cleared off the line. A moment later he had another good chance when he was found by O'Kane on the left, but he didn't find the finish to beat Almunia. 

AFCB pressed with another corner. Grabban then got in behind on the left from O'Kane's pass, but when he crossed to Ritchie a Watford defender managed to make a block right on the line! Even with Pitman next to shoot over there was still hope with seven minutes of extra time awarded.

Yet, in the last few minutes AFCB almost threw everything away. First Elphick fouled Anya near the box with an alleged push which only the ref saw and then O'Kane slipped on the ball on the back line but got back to concede a corner. So it finished 1:1.
The Watford supporters attracted a lot of stewards and police.
A missed opportunity for AFCB perhaps.
Eddie still seemed pleased with the performance.
Eddie Howe can rightly feel that AFCB were the better team today and had plenty of chances to win the game. While Grabban has only ever missed the one penalty you wonder if the substitution bringing on Pitman had been made a few minutes earlier. Then Pitman would have probably taken the spot kick and the Cherries could have been celebrating a win. Grabban shot the same way as his first penalty and it was not to be second time around. Still a point against a dangerous team is not a bad days work. Yet, AFCB should make the most of teams that are reduced to 10 men and they couldn't do that today. Perhaps more disappointing was the failure to defend a set piece.

What is more Eddie Howe has managed to keep his squad together and with Grabban staying their seems good unity about the team who share a common goal of wanting to achieve something special at AFCB. That may start with a win next weekend, because to pass Watford off the park is no mean feat. AFCB have come a long way since that 6:1 defeat back in August.

The Bournemouth Echo get's Eddie Howe's reaction. 
Camp, Francis, Elphick, Ward, Daniels, O'Kane, Ritchie, Arter, Surman (Rantie 78), Pugh (Pitman 78), Grabban

AFCB Player Ratings
Camp 7, Francis 7, Elphick 7, Ward 8, Daniels 8, O'Kane 8, Ritchie 7, Arter 7, Surman 7, Pugh 8, Grabban 7

Allsop, Harte, Cook, MacDonald, Fraser, Pitman, Rantie

Almunia, Angella, Hall, Ekstrand, Faraoni, Battocchio, Iriney (Abdi 26), McGugan (Murray 50), Pudil, Deeney, Fabbrini (Anya 78)

Watford Subs
Bond, Bellerin, Forestieri, Doyley, Murray, Anya, Abdi 

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