Sunday, 1 March 2015

Cherries' late show does not unsettle Steele Rovers 0-0

Match Report

AFCB 0 v 0 Blackburn Rovers
28 February 2015
Attendance: 10, 196
All present and correct. AFCB's players and
fans make it for the delayed kick off at 3.30pm.
Flag bearers at the ready.
This game was perhaps destined to be problematic with a major car crash on the A338 causing a half hour delay to the kick off time. The traffic on the pitch though was mainly headed in one direction and but for Jason Steele the Cherries might have driven home with a few more points.

AFCB have made it pretty hard going of late and getting back to winning ways has been more of a challenge than might have been thought in recent matches. This was another match where the Cherries gave it their all and it was a disciplined performance with plenty of endeavour, but it was a game that lacked that special ingredient to break the deadlock. Marc Pugh came the closes in the first half with a well struck volley that Jason Steele turned around the corner. The second half saw more pressure from the Cherries as Yann Kermorgant was first thwarted by another full length save from Steele and then thundered another header against the bar as the Cherries fought hard to get the three points that they have been missing out on of late. But Blackburn stuck to their defensive shape, routinely banging the ball up to Rudy Gestede and hoping for something the go array at the back for the Cherries. That AFCB kept a clean sheet was progress in my book, but goals are becoming hard to come by at the Goldsands stadium at the moment.

Tommy Elphick gets set to start the hand shakes.
It's a flat pitch - I really don't care which end we kick towards.

There are more pictures on Match Day Gallery.

There was good cause for Eddie Howe to make changes as Harry Arter was back having served his suspension and Yann Kermorgant had made himself available after his difficult week. Charlie Daniels and Marc Pugh came back into the side on the left while Ryan Fraser moved over to the right wing and Matt Ritchie was moved out to the bench along with Adam Smith and Brett Pitman.

Blackburn set up with the sole intention of frustrating and not wanting to concede. They just played Gustede up front on his own and left Jordan Rhodes on the bench.  Flooding the midfield might have worked for them but AFCB's busy players were able to control the early tempo of the game. Marc Pugh was especially enjoying his return and won the first corner after six minutes.  A poor ball from Simon Francis though let Rovers off the hook for a moment before AFCB worked the ball back to Fraser and Wilson before Marc Pugh hit a volley at the far side of Rover's box that was headed for goal but for the flying save of Jason Steele.

The corners kept coming for the Cherries as they took the game to Rovers. Unfortunately, some passes were going astray though with Surman and Rover's Ben Marshall finding it hard to find their team mates.  Harry Arter was making his presence felt against Chris Taylor but his attempts to get Callum Wilson away were less successful as the striker mistimed his run to be offside. Steve Cook had clearly learnt his lesson of making solid clearances and it wasn't long before he put one out over the East stand.

Meanwhile, Simon Francis was doing his own gardening work by leaving a big sandy whole in the pitch after his challenge on Ben Marshall. Callum Wilson was also finding free kicks going against him as he chased and battled with Craig Conway.

Blackburn were containing the Cherries well. Callum Wilson got no freedom and was picking up the offside flags. Francis and Fraser were often having to come inside to keep moves from the right going. It was quite a shock to see Rovers have a shot but Chris Taylor had a go on 19 minutes with his shot pulled wide.

Yann Kermorgant was down more than he was up, but was fighting hard in the centre circle for most of the time. Following a foul on him the ball ended up with Wilson in the box but then sped out wide to where Ryan Fraser came hurtling in and went flying through the air as he tumbled in front of Steele. More corners followed but AFCB were unable to keep the ball well around the box, while Daniels' cross went straight out of play.

Daniels did a bit better on 29 minutes when he ran into the box after a good move between him and Pugh, but Charlie shot straight at Baptiste and the keeper at the near post and had to settle for yet another corner. Blackburn also won a corner after 35 minutes but Matt Kilgallon fouled in the box. AFCB were getting a bit frustrated and Arter tried a long shot that veered wide of the right post. There was a better chance with Callum Wilson on the break but he dallied and before he knew it Rovers got back into place.

Blackburn won another corner off Steve Cook as things got a bit nervy with half time approaching. Blackburn were enjoying some possession and Craig Conway's effort was blocked by Arter. Callum Wilson then fouled Corry Evans and AFCB fans held their breath as the minute of extra time went up, but for once the opposition did not score and it was goalless at half time.
Oh great - no goals!
He is a bit good with football! Half time entertainment.
Second Half
There was no real change in tactics for the second half. Rovers still looked to find Gestede with every out ball and the Cherries tried to find the final pass that would unlock the door to a goal. Marc Pugh started the half by beating Conway and Marshall and putting in a deep cross from the left ,but it evaded everyone with Callum Wilson and Jason Steele ending up in the net, while the ball careered on past with Kilgallon and Makus Olsson in close attendance. If it was frustrating to watch it was frustration that boiled over for Harry Arter and he was the first and only player to receive a yellow card as he caught Chris Taylor, who had already moaned at the referee in the first half about Harry's tackling. This time the referee wasn't going to let Harry off.

Alex Baptiste was seeing more and more of the ball as AFCB applied the pressure but he was looking very solid at the back for Rovers and was reading the game well making interceptions and winning headers. Alongside him Matt Kilgallon was doing a great job of marking Callum Wilson.

AFCB tried to change things on 56 minutes when Marc Pugh went down to get some attention for his ankle. He got up okay but Eddie Howe decided it was time for a change and he replaced Pugh with Matt Ritchie.  The Cherries were still mainly aiming to get Wilson in but most of the passes were too long and Steele was always covering as an extra sweeper.

Blackburn almost became a bit more adventurous when Corry Evans had a shot from distance but it was well wide.Ryan Fraser had been pinned with long passes all game and he managed to make some excellent chest downs and headers just to keep the ball in play at times. He also had a faint chance of scoring when on the left hand edge of the box but he hit a weak shot straight at the keeper. Things were summed up when Charlie Daniels then thundered down the wing only to hit row z in the North stand with his cross!

The corner routines were not coming off this game for AFCB and Rovers were starting to see a bit more of the ball, which might not have been too worrying until Gary Bowyer decided that Jordan Rhodes should replace Chris Taylor on 73 minutes. Jay Spearing was also subbed for Lee Williamson. 

However, it was the Cherries that were pushing for the win and Yann Kermorgant almost provided the break through when he leaped well in the box and met the ball well from a Charlie Daniels' cross, beating Olssonand Kilgallon in the air,  only for Jason Steele to make another great save to his left on 75 minutes. Blackburn still tried the odd long shot with Ben Marshall having a final go before he was subbed on 79 minutes for Tom Cairney.

The last 20 minutes were going to be tense. Yann Kermorgant had a shot go over before AFCB won a corner off of  Gestede.  It was the moment to get up off of your seat as Kermorgant had a shot blocked and from a resultant throw the ball was crossed back in by Francis to the far side and Yann Kermorgant out leaped Baptiste and crashed his header against the bar with the keeper well beaten! It just wouldn't go in.

Tokelo Rantie had been waiting for a few minutes to get the green light to come on and he replaced Callum Wilson with just six minutes to go. He was keen to impress and somehow managed to get a low cross in when pinned in the right corner of Rover's half but Steele was quickly out to stop and AFCB player from latching onto the ball. The Game was there to be won and Harry Arter did his best to do that by making a sharp turn from a throw and striking a fabulous shot across goal that had Jason Steele again at full stretch.

Rovers had one good opportunity with Tom Cairney at the very end, but he set himself only to shoot wide from about 22 yards out. There were five minutes of added on time when Rovers won a corner, but the Cherries soon cleared and in the last minute or two Callum Wilson went down on the corner of the box, perhaps a little too easily and shouts for a penalty were waved away and it was just to be a point shared in what was AFCB's first goalless stalemate at home of the season.
That'll be a draw then.
Anyone happy with a point?
No goals today.
Eddie heads towards the officials.
Harry Arter has a word with the officials. Sorry about my yellow card
 - well, okay he might just have said something else.
The Cherries will be pleased to see the back of February. Blackburn might not have put all their weapons on the pitch straight away or for long enough to win the match, but they were not going to roll over easily. They had not won away since September and getting a point was perhaps their main objective, if they felt the play-offs are now beyond them and they need to use some games against passing teams like AFCB to prepare for their FA Cup quarter final against Liverpool. 

For AFCB it was more of a point gained than two points lost I felt as other results were pretty good on the day for the Cherries and for once they had kept a clean sheet. It is a starting point from which they can grow again and as a first step it was a performance that is going the right direction. The Cherries had been told to make better decisions in their last game, especially in the last 10 minutes and if hitting the bar and making the opposition's keeper make a great save to share the points is not good enough, then it just wasn't the Cherries day. You could say, the late show just didn't quite happen for the Cherries.
Tommy looks to put another ball over the east stand - naughty!
Let's try again on Tuesday.
Boruc, Francis, Elphick, Cook, Daniels, Fraser, Surman, Arter, Pugh (Ritchie 56), Kermorgant, Wilson (Rantie 84)

Camp, Rantie, Pitman, Smith, MacDonald, Ward, Ritchie

AFCB ratings

Boruc 5, Francis 6, Elphick 6, Cook 7, Daniels 6, Fraser 7, Surman 6, Arter 6, Pugh 6, 
Kermorgant 8, Wilson 7 

Blackburn Rovers
Steele, Henley, Baptiste, Kilgallon, Olsson, Taylor (Rhodes 73), Spearing (Williamson 73), Evans, Conway, Marshall (Cairney 79), Gestede

Rovers Subs
Spurr, Dunn, Brown, Cairney, Rhodes, Eastwood, Williamson

Referee Watch: Simon Hoper 5/10

Cherry Chimes March Newsletter - out today!I release the Cherry Chimes March Newsletter today which picks over the top stories from the blog this past February. 

You can read extra posts there entitled 'Oh no! reality check' and 'Money, money, money' which asks is that what AFCB's success has been really down to.

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