Sunday, 2 November 2014

Cherries fortunate to beat intrepid Brighton 3-2

Match Report
AFCB V Brighton
1 November 2014
Attendance: 10,166

AFCB and Brighton greet each other.
It is often the case that AFCB tend to be not quite at their best when the cameras come down to Dean Court. That was certainly the case with this game as I came away feeling that the Cherries had got out of jail with an indifferent performance that had pushed them up to second in the table. Of course that is only half the story. Brighton came to battle and ask questions of Bournemouth's back four and twice they basically walked through on goal - right down the middle of the pitch! When a goalkeeper can virtually make an assist there is something not quite right at the back, and yet AFCB pulled themselves together to go a head three times in this game to finish off a very spirited Brighton team that really should have got something out of the game.
The pre-match huddle.

Brighton fans, Barry and Kieran speak to Cherry Chimes pre-match on their team.
There are more pictures on Match day Gallery.

Eddie Howe made no changes to the last league starting line up and Artur Boruc's injury had cleared up enough for him to resume his duties between the sticks. Brighton brought in Holla, Teixiera, Hughes and Ali Al-Habsi to the starting line up and Chris O'Grady did not make the squad.

The match began as quite a scrappy affair with numerous fouls from both sides. Brighton started the better though with some good passing and Gary Gardner swing in an accurate free kick that was only skirmished just wide of the left hand post for Bournemouth for a corner. The pull back on the corner came to Gardner, but it was easy for Boruc to hold the shot. Free kicks continued to stop the game flowing until Aaron Hughes went down on the right wing after coming together with Pugh and had to go off on a stretcher.  Andigo Calderon replaced him on 13 minutes.

The game was really poor with a whole host of loose passes missing their intended destination. Al-Habsi could not kick straight all evening and Bournemouth's players were uncharacteristically sloppy. Francis did play in matt Ritchie well on 16 minutes, and Matt had a shot saved at the foot of the right hand post. AFCB were also having to defend a lot and Elphick was getting his block in on Teixeira.

Ritchie and Wilson were making penetrating runs and Al-Habsi had to make a big punch clear. AFCB were creating their own problems though with Surman a chief offender in passing to the opposition and then Francis doing it! Luckily Colunga was not able to make anything of the gift.

AFCB won a corner though on 23 minutes through Pugh's work and while Arter drive was blocked, Francis put over a deep cross that missed Wilson at the near post, but under pressure Gordon Greer somehow headed past his own keeper and AFCB were one-nil up! After the goal there were some wild tackles Ritchie and Gardner and a follow up slider from Francis in which he came off worst. In the blink of an eye, Brighton got going and Joao Teixiera played a ball straight though the middle to Adrian Colunga, who seemed all alone and just had Boruc to beat by rounding him to his left and slotting home for 1-1 with 28 minutes gone.

Brighton were up for this now and Sam Baldock was getting stuck in against Elphick. Bournemouth wasted a corner, but Arter squeezed in Wilson who forced another corner kick. Lewis Dunk and Joe Bennett were shutting the door firmly on most occasions, until another corner on 38 minutes saw Francis cross the ball which deflected and looped up, missing those in the middle before falling out to Pugh who volleyed the ball spectacularly into the back of the net! AFCB were back in front. Whether Al-Habsi saw the shot clearly is unlikely, as he had two defenders basically dancing in front of him and it was clearly a deflected shot.

Brighton's Gardner and Holla started to get more control of the game and Gardner hit a firm shot wide from the edge of the box just before half time. Four minutes of extra time were mainly taken up with a free kick that Pugh gave away for a barge on Gardner. Thankfully Greer headed well over to leave the score 2-1 at half time.
AFCB subs at half time.
Cherry Bear shows off his moves.

Michael Dunne of All Departments gives his half time views on the game.

Second Half
The second half saw AFCB come close when Pitman and then Wilson got on the ball and passed out wide to Francis to hit a shot that I believe hit the left post before coming off the back stanchion of the goal.

Pitman started to see a bit more of the ball, but he and Wilson were finding it hard to make the keeper do any work. Cook thought he would have a go, moving Pugh out of the way, but he only shot wide.

Then came Brighton's best chance at the start of the second half with Lewis Dunk meeting a right wing cross following a free kick and heading down well only for Boruc to make a startling save down low to his right on 57 minutes. Teixiera hit his shot over from the corner. A few minutes later Teixiera had another shot bravely stopped by Cook when the defender was on the floor. The score was about to change though and from an unlikely incident on the hour mark. Al-Habsi kicked a ball straight up field through the middle and after a flick on header from Greer, Sam Baldock found himself running in on goal with no defender in sight. It was 2-2 and the Cherries had got it horribly wrong at the back.

Brighton brought on Lua Lua for Greer on 62 minutes as they looked for the win and AFCB followed a minute later replacing Pitman with Yann Kermorgant and Fraser coming on for Ritchie. Calderon and Gardner were really battling hard now and Surman again was misplacing passes! Tiexiera was still shooting wide, but there were danger signals for the Cherries. Forster-Caskey  was next given a yellow for taking down Ryan Fraser as the games' intensity ratcheted up another level. Wilson, Pugh and Francis were still trying to engineer an opening and Arter was directing much of the play.

Tiexiera picked up a yellow for not retreating for a corner and Brighton made a sub with Craig Mackail-Smith replacing Baldock on 74 minutes. Another yellow was given out to Calderon as frustrations grew. A move followed that saw Arter feed Wilson in the box and after a swift turn Lewis Dunk conceded a penalty, after a clumsy challenge. Yann Kermorgant too the kick and dispatched it quite simple to the keeper's right. AFCB were back ahead 3-2.

With 13 minutes to go it was going to be a hard won three points if AFCB could hold out. The biggest worry came when Mackail-Smith broke free down the right and Cook came across and basically tripped, but purposely put his hand out to catch Mackail-Smith's ankle. The referee Keith Stroud decided it was only a yellow. AFCB might have been lucky there. Daniels was also given a yellow card for time wasting, but even more of a surprise was six minutes of extra time.

The best chance came to Craig Mackail-Smith, but he missed at the near post. When Gosling came on for Wilson, there was just time to sing a few 'Bournemouth goal machine' lines. Yann Kermorgant was given a yellow card kicking the ball away, but the game was up. Brighton had come close but it was three points for the Cherries.
Francis and Elphick talk to the TV presenters.
There will be, and there already have been, days when AFCB will play better than this. They say it is a good sign when a team does not play well and still wins games. Perhaps AFCB's luck is just in at the moment. Certainly Brighton were one of the better teams we have seen at Dean Court this season and the Cherries were fully tested. Defensive frailties showed themselves in the Cherries' shape and that will be a concern when a simple pass down the middle can open the team up. This result is welcome but it just may have opened the door to one or two changes for the next game. 
A close game but AFCB keep the winning run going.
Eddie says thanks.
Well done Cookie!
Boruc, Francis, Elphick, Cook, Daniels, Ritchie (Fraser 63), Arter, Surman, Pugh, Pitman (Kermorgant 63), Wilson (Gosling 94)

Camp, Golsing, Rantie, Kermorgant, Harte, Smith, Fraser

AFCB Ratings
Boruc 7, Francis 7, Elphick 7*, Cook 6, Daniels 6, Ritchie 6, Arter 7, Pugh 7, Surman 5, Pitman 5, Wilson 7 
* I'll give MoM to Elphick, especially as he played mid-week as well

Al-Habsi, Hughes (Calderon 13), Greer, Dunk, Bennett Booked, Gardner, Holla, Forster-Caskey Booked, Teixeira BooBaldock (Mackail-Smith 73), Colunga (Lua Lua 63)

Brighton subs
Mackail-Smith, Calderon, Chicksen, McCourt, Ince, Lua Lua, Walton

Ref Watch: Keith Stround 3/10 - hardly agreed with any of his decisions!

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