Thursday, 2 January 2014

Match Report: Brighton deny Cherries win just two minutes from time - 1:1

Match Report

Brighton 1 v 1 AFCB

1 January 2014

Attendance: 28,282 (including 1668 AFCB fans)

Tommy Elphick finally leads a team out at the Amex, but its AFCB not Brighton.
A stormy day on the south coast is a good description not only of the weather, but also of this derby match that was fiercely fought by two sides striving desperately for a win in conditions that had many supporters thankful for what rain cover there was at the American express emblazoned Amex stadium. It was Bournemouth's first visit to Brighton's new ground at Falmouth and while the rain and wind were uninviting, some 28, 282 soles made it through the puddles and were entertained to a thrilling encounter from two of the best attacking teams in the Championship. While there were no winners on the scoreboard, AFCB fans were chanting just one thing at the end of the game "Sign him up!" "Sign him up!" - Lee Camp had an absolute blinder of a game and the call to make his move permanent from the fans could not have been heard any louder or expressed more keenly to Eddie Howe.
Sign him up! Lee Camp was just on a different planet for
most of the game - simply outstanding!
Both sides step out on to the wet pitch, which still looked
immaculate despite the constant heavy rainfall.
More pictures on Match Day Gallery

AFCB started the game with just one change from the Ipswich match with Harry Arter returning to the team in place of Josh McQuoid and Pugh starting ahead of Ryan Fraser. Meanwhile, Brighton brought in Lopez and Lua Lua to their starting line up.

Tommy Elphick says hi to the left upright in front of the Bournemouth fans.
 He must have thought of this day so many times in his dreams.
Brighton pressed well into Bournemouth's half from the start and while the Cherries withstood the opening salvos, Ward conceding an early corner with a tackle on Ulloa. When a free kick was given for pushing, Camp tried to set Ritchie away quickly but the ref was having nothing of that and it had to be retaken. Neither side got a grip of the game in the first 10 minutes as they were also battling the slippery conditions, but Lua Lua was proving a problem for Francis on the left wing. AFCB lost the ball a few times in midfield and Arter's poor pass let in Lua Lua who I believe passed to Crofts on 10 minutes and his drive from just outside the box flashed somehow underneath Camp who had dived to his right. We waited for the back of the net to bulge, but Camp had got the smallest of touches on the ball and it deflected onto the left post - what a let off!

Ward was increasingly seen to be winning headers and making clearances as AFCB repelled Brighton's attacks. Ritchie was also battling back in his own half and got the better of Stephen Ward in the right corner much to the delight of AFCB fans. When the Cherries broke with Arter, he played in Pugh on the left and Calderon came across and appeared to mistime his tackle in the box, but in truth Eddie Howe admitted he played the ball first. Still, the ref pointed to the spot and on 14 minutes Lewis Grabban slotted the ball to Kuszczak's right and it was 0:1 to the Cherries! To be honest it was difficult for the Bournemouth fans to see at the other end of the pitch whether it was a foul or not, all we saw was the Pugh had gone down. We were simply delighted that a penalty had been given and a bit surprised. 

Meanwhile, I was still having trouble picking out Brighton's player numbers - yellow numbers on a blue and white background. Thanks for that shirt designers!!

Bournemouth grew in confidence after the goal and Grabban had another shot blocked, but Camp also had to make a save from Ulloa, who had cut in from the right wing and forced a good save from camp low down to his left on 17 minutes.

Croft also started to get on the ball more in midfield for Brighton his pass on 21 minutes to Lua Lua could have been dangerous in front of the box but the shot from Lua Lua went wide. Camp was then at full stretch to his left after Lua Lua had another go a minute later. This was turning into the Lua Lua versus Lee Camp show. The pressure kept mounting on the Bournemouth goal with Calderon heading over from a free kick, but it was looking like AFCB's goal was having a bit of a charmed life.

Ince was controlling midfield by now and Arter was finding things hard going with his passing. Lopez and Lua Lua were attacking Francis at right back fairly frequently as well, while Daniels was putting in big tackles to stop Ince marauding forward. A moments relief came from Pugh, although he blazed over the bar. 

At least Ward and Elphick were doing okay in the centre of defence, with O'Kane as busy as ever in front of them. Having weathered the Brighton storm on AFCB's goal, the Cherries started to pass the ball much more and Arter had a shot blocked on 26 minutes. 

Lopez was caught offside as AFCB pushed up, but Camp was still very active punching from a free kick Brighton had on 33 minutes. O'Kane was starting to enjoy himself and had a go at a strong breakaway, while Ritchie was starting get a bit more involved in play. Brighton's corner on 40 minutes was well defended and by the time Arter did a showpiece turn on Lua Lua that left the Brighton playing standing still, AFCB fans were starting to think that three points were possible here, if the Cherries could just get that second goal. When Andrew Surman was brought down on the right side of Brighton's box, towards the end of the half, I thought a second penalty may have been awarded, but even though it looked a good shout nothing was given.

A few minutes later Arter carried the ball out of defence from the right across the pitch and up to half way line and further still to the left. We wondered if he knew where he was going, but he settled for the left hand corner of the field when we had hoped his antennae might have driven him more towards goal. 

As two minutes of added time were called out, I was thinking we could do with none. I must have known there was trouble ahead, because a ball was crossed from the right wing with Francis and Ulloa just in front of goal and, as Francis misjudged the flight of the ball, it landed right at Ulloa's feet. He soon looked goalwards and his shot was amazingly saved by Lee Camp who stood tall and put his arms up to see the ball deflected over the bar from six yards out! Was Camp having one of those days when he could do no wrong, I thought.

Half time came with the home fans booing the officials over the penalty decision as the teams came off the pitch.

Pitch repairs at half time.
Second half
Bournemouth came out in the second half determined to try and keep the clean sheet. It was Grabban who had a couple of early shots saved though as he tried to extend AFCB's lead. Arter was very much involved in keeping Ince at arms length, while Ward and Lua Lua were seeing a lot of the ball as well. The next alarm bell went off around 56 minutes when Lopez found Lua Lua who hammered his shot against the bar!

AFCB were playing on the break with Grabban latching onto a ball after a Brighton corner and sending O'Kane away before Ritchie fired over the Brighton goal. AFCB tried to apply some pressure higher up the field with Arter and Daniels pressing, but El-Abd and Upson were comfortable at the back, even if Kuszczak had his moments. Bournemouth had a good chance to break with Pugh but his short pass did not find Grabban. A few moments later Daniels would go on a similar run but he was chopped down by Al-Abd who went into the book on 62 minutes.

Brighton then took of Croft and brought on Agustein as the Seagulls looked for a way back.Calderon was getting forward more now and putting crosses in, even if most were too strong. A corner for Brighton on 70 minutes was also headed wide. AFCB fans were urging Eddie Howe to make a change to stem the pressure and he introduced Fraser on the right wing and took Ritchie off, which was a bit surprising although the influential winger has had a busy Christmas period. At the same time Lopez was subbed and Barnes came on.

Shortly afterwards Arter picked up a yellow card for a foul on Bridcutt. Daniels won a corner next and Francis had a deflected shot that was well saved by Kuszczak. AFCB were looking good to hold on to the points at this stage. Fraser hit a weak shot at Kuszczak which was a simple save, but moments later the keeper made a hurried and sliced clearance much to the delight of Bournemouth fans - "dodgy keeper!"

There was also a fun moment when Ryan Fraser was up against Rohan Ince in the middle and slight figure of Fraser fell almost before the towering figure of Ince had come up against him. But Brighton were in control now and a cross from the left wing had to be cleared off the line with 12 minutes to go.

A break from Pugh on the left had us all excited for a moment, when he looked to cut in but El-Abd and Calderon soon snubbed out the chance, when Pugh was in the penalty area. Eddie Howe put Pitman on with nine minutes to go and goal hero Grabban came off.

Camp had to make a save from Barnes on the right as Brighton came forward again. Francis gave away a corner on 83 minutes, but O'Kane made the clearance on the near post. Lua Lua was subbed for Orlandi to come on. While Arter managed to have a shot saved with a few minutes to go the ball was back down Bournemouth end on the left, when a cross was contested for in the middle of AFCB's goal and came back out to the right on the goal line. A sharp header back across goal was met by Ward running in to head home the equaliser! It was a frantic exchange and the ball had been held up like a pinball in Bournemouth's box before the goal had been scored. In some way, it was no surprise that the Cherries had not managed to hold out, even though they had been just a couple of minutes away from achieving their objective, such had been Brighton's late onslaught.

The game was not over though and there was time for either side to get a winner as Arter reminded us with a shot that went over. Five minutes of extra time seemed massive, where had that time come from? Brighton didn't care, they had a corner and more defending was required. In came another cross and Bournemouth's bar shuddered from a Barnes' header! There was no time to reflect, Pugh and then Daniels had the ball up the other end forcing Kuszczak into a save. Pitman was then robbed in the middle of the pitch and Brighton were back on the attack. While Brighton fans yelled "attack, attack, attack!", Bournemouth fans were hoping the final whistle might blow now. Bridcutt hit a shot at Clamp before Calderon relieved the pressure by shooting wide. And then the referee did blow the final whistle on what had been one of Bournemouth's most exhilarating matches so far this season.

Francis and Daniels give a big thanks to fans for the singing support.
Lee Camp in the background was the one deserving all the applause.
It was great to see Eddie work wonders away from home again.
Despite not holding on for the win, Brighton well deserved their point and created by far the most chances in the game. Yet, the Cherries have shown they are no easy match away from home and could have spoiled any New Year celebrations for the Seagulls if they had got a second goal at any time. The penalty will be the talking point for Brighton fans, although as mentioned there was a suspect challenge later on the right side of the box on Surman, in the first half, that looked more like a penalty, that was waved away at the far end of the ground. 

Lee Camp was inspired for sure and was easily the man of the match. A new signing for AFCB? On this performance the Cherries will be keener than ever to get his signature and from what I saw Lee Camp was very pleased to play his part in a terrific away performance by Eddie Howe's Barmy Army. Until next time Brighton - we loved almost every minute of the game! But please, sort those shirts out. 

Camp, Francis, Ward, Elphick, Daniels, Ritchie (Fraser 71), Arter, O'Kane, Surman, Pugh, Grabban (Pitman 81)

AFCB Subs:
Allsop, Harte, Adisson, Fraser, Pitman, MacDonald, Rantie

AFCB Ratings
Camp 9*, Francis 6, Ward 8, Elphick 7, Daniels 8, Ritchie 7, Arter 7, O'Kane 7, Surman 6, Pugh 6, Grabban 7

*Would have been 10 but for the early Lua Lua shot that he virtually dived over, which hit the post and for just failing to keep that clean sheet - I am a hard judge. He was really excellent.

Kuszczak, Ward, Upson, El-Abd, Calderon, Bridcutt, Ince, Crofts (Agustien 65), David (Barnes 71), Lua Lua (Orlandi 85), Ulloa.

Brighton Subs:
Brezovan, Andrews, Dunk, Barnes, Augustien, Orlandi, Chicksen

No comments:

Post a Comment