Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Loving it - Cherries earn a scrappy win at Reading 0-1

Match Report
14 April 2015
Reading 0 v 1 AFCB
Attendance: 18, 917 (including 4259 Cherries)
Even lions can't get the better of AFCB.
If you thought the win against Brighton needed an element of luck then you probably had to cross your fingers as well as your toes during this match as the Cherries sought to hang on to their slender goal lead that was scored as early as the fourth minute. This was a match that called for game management and while the Cherries did well at keeping Reading at arms length for a good while, it was not pretty and it called for mental strength as much as physical effort to keep the Royals from scoring. Callum Wilson's goal after Andrew Surman shot came back off the post was a sensational start to the match, but this game saw the points won just as much because of AFCB's great defence. The last 15 minutes of the match were just a whirl of Reading chances and great resolve from AFCB who had otherwise looked fairly solid but for a first half save from Artur Boruc that confirmed that he is a fabulous keeper if you did not already know it.
AFCB and Reading teams.
Let's do this!
Eddie Howe kept the same team that played at Brighton having told everyone that Matt Ritchie was very doubtful. Nice one Eddie! Reading did make changes but the team they put out was certainly not going to make it easy for the Cherries.

More photos of the evening can be seen on Match Day Gallery!
Reading's players still had a big need for points.
Tommy flips the coin in the middle.
The match got off to a funny start with Yann Kermorgant so keen to get the ball that Reading had several attempts at trying to get the kick off taken before he rushed. There was no need to settle back and ease back into your seat, most fans were standing anyway but Yann Kermorgant won an early free kick and AFCB were on the attack. In fact With Arter, Pugh and Elphick getting early touches the ball found its way to Arter and a centrally hit shot from Andrew Surman powered off the foot of Reading's left hand post only for Callum Wilson to react quickly and slam the ball back past Federici to give AFCB a 0-1 lead!

That was it. The fans went mental and started bouncing as AFCB celebrated their goal in the for right corner. Reading were soon pressing to get over that early set back and were doing well down the left with Obita. AFCB were looking comfortable on the ball though and it was a bit of a shock when a cross from Ake on the left was hit at point blank range from Jamie Mackie right at Boruc who stuck up an arm to force the ball wide. It was a cracking save and the reading striker looked totally stunned that he had not drawn level on 17 minutes. Reading kept coming forward and had a good header after a corner at the back post that was blocked.

By this time I was already curing the Reading shirt designer for asking for red numbers on a background of white and blue hoops - I had no clue who Reading players were if I was to rely on the numbers alone! When I did look closely I saw McCleary linking up well with Chalobah but thankfully he could only shoot over the bar. Things got even more worrying when Simon Francis gave away the ball by trying to pass it out from the right back's corner to the edge of Bournemouth's box. It put the team in all kinds of trouble but Reading's shot flew well over.

AFCB were still trying to get Wilson in on goal and Daniels only just played a pass too hard for Callum to get hold of. Chances were not frequent though and when Pugh whipped in a cross to Yann Kermorgant just before half time everyone at AFCB's end gasped and tried to blow the ball in but saw it loop just wide!
Half time scene.

Steve kindly battled the stadium's sound system to give
his views on Cherry Chimes at half time.

Second Half
It was a narrow lead but AFCB had been good value up to this point and I expected them to really go at Reading in the second half. However, it took a while for the game to really get going with any kind of pattern. Reading held their shape well with Ake, Pearce, Hector and Gunter at the back while I wondered if Federici's shocking pink keeper's kit was putting our strikers off. Wilson and Hector were always so close together it was no surprise when the two tangled once too often and were not yellow carded.

Steve Clarke decided to make a change in bringing on Williams for Karakan after 59 minutes and AFCB were starting like they might be losing their way a bit as a long drifted ball over to Pugh just slid under his foot and out into touch when he knew he had a great chance to sneak in round the back. The man to get AFCB fans crying 'Oooh!' though was Matt Ritchie who whizzed a shot in from the right which just skimmed over the bar! Pugh later did get round his man to strike at goal but a deflection saw his short fall harmlessly into Federici's arms just in front of the goal line.

Reading made another sub on 67 minutes as Appiah replaced Chalobah. Two minutes later Pugh was swapped for Adam Smith and Ritchie moved over to the left wing. AFCB fans were already thinking the team has to be really careful hear as Reading were by no means out of the game. By the time Pitman came on for Yann Kermorgant it was likely that Brett would be doing just as much defensive work as anything else.

Matters got even hotter when Callum Wilson took a kick to the header from a slightly over eager Hector. Wilson was down holding his head while everyone else went barmy on the pitch and the referee needed to talk to both assistants before a yellow card was finally shown. I am not even sure the right player was booked as I believe Pearce was shown the yellow. 

Steve Clarke tried to spice things up further bringing on Yakubo for Robson-Kanu with just nine minutes to go. It was every man defending deep for the Cherries as they looked to hold out.  There were clearances from Elphick and Cook while Ritchie had to dash back to clear one almost off the line - anywhere would do as long as it wasn't in the net! Time wasting was getting noticed though and both Francis and Boruc had gone in the book by this time. Hopes of a clean 0-2 win were almost granted when Wilson was put through by Ritchie only for the ball to get a bit caught up and pearce recovered to clear the danger.

Eddie Howe brought on Kenwyne Jones with two minutes to go of normal time and with five minutes going up for extra time we braced ourselves for another battering from Reading. This time there was a free kick some 30 yards out and the ball was chipped into the box and pleasingly cleared as we waited for the whistle. Pitman was next to hoof the ball clear and Eddie Howe was urging his team not to sit so deep, but the whistle finally came and it was three more points for the Cherries as they took another step closer to promotion.
One more game ticked off.
Three points - fantastic!
Most fans are not sure if they are going to last the course if we keep getting games like this in the last three. It was a titanic effort in the end by fans and players to claw these points away from a Reading side that put everything into trying to salvaging a point. Cook and Elphick were solid enough and Boruc was a giant at the back. It was never going to be pretty football to watch in every game but Eddie Howe was mighty pleased to see that whistle come and to be able to tick another of his remaining games off for this season - still top and still battling for wins in the remaining games. We really are on our way!

Check out the Championship Run-In today where you'll find a story called - 'Uncharted waters - The Cherries are edging ever nearer' which is an update on last night's games at the top of the Championship

Boruc, Francis, Elphick, Cook, Daniels, Ritchie, Arter, Surman, Pugh (Smith 69), Kermorgant (Pitman 75), Wilson (Jones 88)


Camp, Gosling, Pitman, Smith, Fraser, Ward, Jones

AFCB Ratings
Boruc 9, Francis 8, Elphick 8, Cook 8, Daniels 8, Ritchie 7, Arter 7, Surman 8, Pugh 6, Kermorgant 7, Wilson 7

Federici, Gunter, A.Pearce, Hector, Obita, Chalobah (Appiah 67, Karacan (Williams 59), Aké,  McCleary, Mackie, Robson-Kanu (Yakubu - 81' )

Reading Subs
Kelly, Norwood, Yakubu, Williams,  Andersen, Stacey, Appiah

Referee Watch: Keith Stroud 5/10 far too fussy for me!

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