Sunday, 15 February 2015

Huddersfield's roadblock frustrates Cherries 1-1

Match Report

AFCB 1 v1 Huddersfield Town
14 February 2015
Attendance: 10,007
The two captains in the middle.
A home game against a mid-table side would be just the perfect way to go back to the top of the table if you could pick games out of a hat. But Huddersfield proved a stern test that AFCB's players struggled to breakdown and while the opposition offered little in the way of an attacking menace, Yann Kermorgant's 16th minute goal was not going to be enough to earn three points on the day and the Cherries once again let a lead slip and had to settle for a draw.
Walking out on to the pitch.
The two teams.
AFCB players do their stretches.
More photos of the day are up on the Match Day Gallery.

Top be back at the top of the table is of course good, but the display that the crowd of just over 10,000 saw on this Valentine's day was not a bed of roses. Some petals were clearly missing from the performances that home crowds have enjoyed from Eddie Howe's teams. Simon Francis had fallen ill over night and it was felt to risky to let him play so he was put on the bench, while Tokelo Rantie had injured a shoulder (not the previously dislocated one) and  was not fit to play either. Adam Smith would be a good deputy for the unwell Francis, but the snap and drive of AFCB's usual game struggled to find the passion to thrill the hearts of the home crowd on Valentine's day.

As we know there is often another interest hanging around to upset the relationship between AFCB and their fans and the Huddersfield team was out to try and spoil AFCB's dining at the top table. There was a clear objective in Huddersfield 4-5-1 set up - block and frustrate. It worked a treat and even if they did not get many chances they put the important one away. 

AFCB started better than against Derby with Steve Cook trying to make an early header that went just wide. Pugh was heavily involved in these first few minutes turning over possession while Adam Smith was soon showing how strong he was against Harry Bunn, who went sprawling on all fours after Smith saw a ball out for a goal kick.

Marc Pugh was making inroads on the left and his cross was headed wide by Callum Wilson on eight minutes as AFCB ramped up the passing. Huddersfield were getting the ball now and again, but when they did Tommy Smith crossed to no one and then Jack Robinson hit his crosses too strong. 

Things got more interesting when Matt Ritchie decided to have a swerving shot from distance after 10 minutes which saw Alex Smithies have to adjust fast to claw the ball out from the top right corner. AFCB got an even better grip on the game when Harry Bunn conceded a corner on 16 minutes and from it Yann Kermorgant lay in wait at the far end of the box. A step over from arter saw the ball come straight to Yann who pulled trigger from just inside the 18 yard area and he found the bottom left corner of Huddersfield's goal. It was a dream start. The Cherries were 1-0 up!

I thought that would settle any nerves after the start the team had made in their previous match and Ritchie was intent on making Smithies work had in goal by forcing a diving punched clearance that had the crowd gasping again. Callum Wilson was also showing his power by chasing down balls into the corner and holding up play, but AFCB's passing was not going anywhere at times and minor fouls kept slowing the play. 

Huddersfield just tried to shoot from anywhere when they were in AFCB's half and Tommy Smith had a good shot deflected wide after 23 minutes. AFCB's response was a strong run from Harry Arter who charged up the field but hit his shot into the side netting from some distance out. Four minutes later AFCB went closer with Ritchie's shot getting spilled and Callum Wilson putting the follow up wide when under pressure from only six yards out.

That was as good as it got for the Cherries. Watching from the stands the next 15 minutes up to half time saw lots of Bournemouth possession but no end product. It looked like Huddersfield were happy to settle for a 1-0 defeat and with just the masked James Vaughan up front it was hard to see them causing many problems. Huddersfield were not putting much pressure on the ball when they did not have it and one fan near me said it was like a training session or  pre-season game. 

There were a couple of instances that caught the eye though. Pugh had a shot blocked after good work from Daniels and a little later he did a beautiful drag back  to beat Jacob Butterfield in the centre of the pitch, but at half time, 1-0 was all the lead was.
The players come off after the first half.
Eyes down for the second half. At least the scoreboard
sorted itself out with the right score eventually having
been a bit slow to recognise Yann Kermorgant's strike.
Second Half
AFCB applied some good pressure early on in the second half with a series of corners, four of them in just a couple of minutes. Huddersfield were well organised though and apart from seeing Smithies punch well there was no major alarm bells going off in the Terriers' box. Referee Gavin Ward was clearly trying to play advantage when he could, but some of the fouls committed could well have seen a yellow card in my book from both sides and yet no cards had been given out until Harry Arter simply lost his head and went in on Harry Bunn around the half way line, when there was no real need for him to go bombing in. Still, his suspension has to be served now and he'll be out for the next two games.

With an hour gone and AFCB not showing any forward momentum, I kept looking over to see if  a sub would be made but there was no sign of it. Mark Hudson was having a terrific game at the back for Huddersfield and was keeping Wilson incredibly quiet. There was a moment when I thought Yann Kermorgant was going to sneak through as he was strong in the tackle on the edge of the box and forced his way through some challenges but he was denied by Hudson at the last minute.

The signs were that AFCB were losing their way. Even Ritchie, who tried to tee up a cross on the right wing by keeping the ball up on his left foot before trying a cross, whacked the ball into the crowd and over the bar. The fatal moment for AFCB fans came on 65 minutes when Huddersfield retained some possession through Tommy Smith on the right and his low cross was only half cleared by Tommy Elphick's out stretched boot with the ball running on to Jack Robinson. Robinson then hit a long range shot from the left of Bournemouth's box that was deflected in by the hard working Vaughan to level the scores. Artur Boruc looked completely wrong footed and the net bulged as the ball sped in - 1-1.

The goal had been coming and it was now a test of how could the Cherries break down a team that would be happy with a point. Yann Kermorgant was unlucky to see his shot come off Smithies' legs and shouts for a handball received short thrift from referee Ward who started to give Huddersfield ample help with lots of free kicks and virtually nothing when AFCB players were fouled. AFCB were keeping possession but it was just not quick or slick enough to do any damage and Ryan Fraser was brought on after 74 minutes to see if he could unpick the lock. Brett Pitman joined him a minute later as AFCB looked for new energy or at least a chance that would fall to a striker in the box. Ritchie was still trying his best and hit a shot that was deflected for a corner, but the best chance went to Harry Arter who latched on to  back heel from Brett Pitman and smashed his shot at the Huddersfield goal only to see Alex Smithies make a superb one handed save to his left on 80 minutes.

The final 10 minutes didn't bring the drama that AFCB fans wanted. Even with Tommy Elphick asking the North stand to raise the volume. While Pitman hit a shot wide, Smithies remained untroubled. Huddersfield brought on Ishmael Miller with five minutes to go and he imposed himself on the game straight away with his physical presence. Jonathan Hogg also came on to replace Jacob Butterfield with two minutes of normal time to go and even with four minutes of extra time the Cherries could see time ticking away on the game all too quickly.
Huddersfield and AFCB players at the end of the game.
Not a bad day for the travelling fans.
Eddie Howe walks past referee Gavin Ward.
Matt Ritchie leads team mates off the pitch.
Chris Powell after the final whistle.
A bad day at the office? A game too many? Just a couple of per cent off the energy levels required to get a win? Take your pick. The Cherries gave everything as ever and almost fell into a false sense of security such was their dominance. But if the keeper is worked had and the other team keeps you out they deserve some credit. Huddersfield players were certainly celebrating after the whistle. Two home games and a two point return will harm AFCB's promotion push, but it will be the inability to breakdown teams at home that will give Eddie Howe some serious problems to think about now. It's one win in four at home and that is something that has taken the shine off of sitting back at the top of the table at least until mid-week. Still, no one will be falling out of love with this AFCB side.

Boruc, Smith, Elphick, Cook, Daniels, Ritchie, Surman, Arter, Pugh (Fraser 74), Kermorgant (Pitman 75), Wilson

Camp, Francis, Pitman, MacDonald, Stanislas, Fraser, Ward

AFCB Ratings
Boruc 6, Smith 6, Elphick 6, Cook 6, Daniels 7, Ritchie 7, Surman 6, Arter 7, Pugh 7, Kermorgant 7, Wilson 7

Referee watch
Gavin Ward: too many mistakes 3/10 gave AFCB very little

Huddersfield Town
Smithies, Smith, Hudson, Wallace, Robinson, Edgar, Scannell, Butterfield (Hogg 88), Coady, Bunn, Vaughan (Miller 84)

Huddersfield Subs
Hogg, Miller, Murphy, Lolley, Wells, Gobern, Wright

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