Sunday, 1 November 2015

Saint's first half class tells 2-0

Match Description
Southampton 2 v 0 AFCB
1 November 2015
Attendance: 31,229

The Cherries took on Southampton at St Mary's knowing that they were facing a top team that could hurt them and with five in midfield they were set up to defend. For half an hour they frustrated and blocked but Southampton found a way through with a well-made goal crafted by Bertrand and volleyed in by Steven Davis. It was only what the Saint's deserved on the balance of play and that lead was doubled before half time when Grazino Pelle out jumped Sylvain Distin to head past Federici from six yards. Southampton were fully in control, but a half time double substitution from Eddie Howe put the Cherries on a more attacking stride and it was the Saints that found the need to defend in depth in the second 45 minutes as they were forced further and further back. While AFCB eventually brought out a save from Stekelenburg in the 87th and 88th minute, this game really highlighted that Bournemouth could be a strong team in this league if they can find a player to put away chances and play like they did in the second half.

There were some enforced changes for the Cherries with Steve Cook missing from the squad and Simon Francis again filling in at centre back and Adam Smith taking up the role of right back. Cook had picked up an ankle injury in the Spurs match and was not ready to come back even though he had been a sub in the Liverpool match in midweek. Harry Arter came in to the team to make a five man midfield and Josh King was moved to the bench with Glenn Murray being the sole striker. 

Team news from Jason Tindall.

Containment was the order of the day for AFCB at first as they felt the full force of Southampton's attacking strength unleashed on them. The first salvo came on seven minutes when Pelle's shot deflected off Simon Francis for a Southampton corner. Five minutes later it was Saido Mane who shot, only to Sylvain Distin get a deflection in that took the ball over the bar. Mane came even closer on 15 minutes, when he hit his shot into the ground, following a cross from Pelle, and the ball spooned up over the bar.

It was one-way traffic. The Cherries could not get the ball out of their half and it was a source of relief when Wanyama picked up a yellow card for a foul on Adam Smith. Everything was set up for a Matt Ritchie special. Smith did a dummy run and Gosling squared the ball for Ritchie, but Steven David was in before Ritchie got anywhere near a strike, and the opportunity had been wasted. Ritchie argued about the 10 yard rule, but referee Craig Pawson was having none of it.

The Saints continued their dominant possession and when Claise had a shot that hit Francis in the box, the defender was quick to claim that the ball had hit his chest and not his arm. Federici was not helping the nerves by choosing to punch more often than catch the ball, but he was keeping a clean sheet, despite Southampton having 84 per cent possession between the 18th and 28th minute.The score line changed though on 31 minutes when Bertrand put in a cross from the left and Davis arrived on time from the right side of the box to volley home, despite Federici getting two hands to the shot. It was a goal made with great movement.

The pace of the game had been quick but Southampton were stepping it up even more now, as AFCB started to look stretched. a second goal duly came on 36 minutes with Tadic sending in a deep cross from the left and Pelle rising well to leave Distin standing, heading home past Federici's outstretched right hand.

Bournemouth were struggling and Pelle again went close three minutes later. There was a bit of hope though in the one minute of added on time, when Glenn Murray was put through on the left in the box, but van Dijk made a fantastic last minute tackle to block. The ball came back to Gosling who tried to make a good header but the attempt went just wide of the left post.

Second Half   
At 2-0 down at half time and not a lot of possession, Eddie Howe made use of his subs with Murray being withdrawn along with marc Pugh and Junior Stanislas and Josh King came on. Southampton also made a sub as Fonte was subbed for Yoshida. There was an immediate swing in the pattern of play. It was now AFCB coming forward and looking for goals. Gosling made the first attempt which was high and wide. Momentum was with the Cherries though with Stanislas shooting and winning AFCB's first corner off of Yoshida.

Southampton regrouped a bit when Francis was given a yellow card for a foul on Tadic, but the second half became almost an exact reverse of the first half, with Bournemouth now in control. Adam Smith put in a few crosses but they were mainly over hit. One of Southampton's few attempts came when Distin lost a header and the ball came off Francis for Tadic to shoot wide from 20 yards on 61 minutes.

While  Southampton had had 11 attempts at goal and had scored from two on target, AFCB had only had four attempts and nothing for Steklenburg to save at this stage. If any team was going to score now though you'd put your money on AFCB, because Southampton just looked like a side in retreat. Claise was fouled by Gosling though and Bournemouth's number four went into the book. 

Stanislas was making a favourable impression, running at defenders and he shot just wide of the left post on 66 minutes. A big chance went missing next as AFCB won a corner and Smith put the ball low right across the six yard box, but no Bournemouth player got anywhere near to finish it off. Arter then hit the ball into the box and it appeared to be deflected by the arm of Soares. AFCB 's players asked for a penalty but it was declined. Bournemouth kept trying though with Arter trying his luck from distance on 70 minutes.

Southampton subbed Claise for Romer to give them more structure at the back. Lee Tomlin also replaced Harry Arter who had played well. The stats for the second half possession read in favour of AFCB 72 % to the Saint's 28%, it had been a total reversal of the first half, but the Cherries could not find a goal. A lifeline was thrown to them when Wanyama fouled Lee Tomlin with a two-footed lunge, when the striker had been running towards the Southampton box at pace. It was a second yellow and Wanyama was off!

There were 12 minutes to go and Koeman immediately took Tadic off and brought on Ward-Prowse. It was a frantic last 10 minutes with AFCB throwing everything at the Saint's goal. Gosling headed over on 81 minutes and Ritchie also shot over two minutes later. The best chance came to Lee Tomlin on the left side as he ran into the box with three minutes of time to go. He got in a good shot across the keeper, but it was saved. Josh King also followed with a good turn and shot on target, but Steklenburg gathered it easily enough. Even with four minutes of extra time there was to be no consolation goal for the Cherries despite King and Smith having half chances.  

This was a strange match. It was almost as if Southampton played their game in the first half and then packed up at half time. If so, it was a risky strategy and it would have been very intriguing had Bournemouth got a goal back in the second half as their performance deserved it. Still, Southampton were the better team and they have goals in their side. AFCB need to find a cutting-edge and soon. Two shots on target just isn't enough unless you score. While the Saint's scored two goals from their two on target shots, it was not a poor defensive display from the Cherries, they were simply opened up with two good moves. Pelle is also a striker in form as AFCB found to their cost. There was no disgrace though for the Cherries who put in  a spirited second half. They need a bit of good fortune, but that has been sadly lacking of late.

Stekelenburg, Soares, Fonte (Yoshida 45), van Dijk, Bertrand, Wanyama,
Clasie (Romeu 71), Davis, Mané,  Tadic (Ward-Prowse 80), Pellè

Saints' Subs
Davis, Yoshida, Romeu, Ward-Prowse, Juanmi, Ramírez, Caulker

Federici, Smith, Francis, Distin, Daniels, Ritchie, Surman, Gosling, Pugh (Stanislas 45), 
Arter (Tomlin 73), Murray (King 45)

Cherries' Subs
MacDonald, King, Kermorgant, Stanislas, Allsop, Tomlin, Cargill

AFCB Ratings
Federici 6, Smith 7, Francis 6, Distin 6, Daniels 6, Ritchie 6, Surman 6, Gosling 6, Pugh 6, Arter 6, Murray 6  - Subs King 6, Stanislas 6, Tomlin 6

Referee Rating: Craig Pawson 5/10 

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