Monday, 18 April 2016

AFCB's late rally not enough against Liverpool 1-2

Match Report
AFCB 1 v 2 Liverpool
17 April 2016
Attendance: 11,386
The two teams before kick off.
Winning points at home is still not proving easy against the best sides. Liverpool may have made 10 changes from their midweek team against Borussia Dortmund but they were still too strong for the Cherries who found themselves 0-2 down at half time thanks to a quick double strike at first from Firmino and then from the head of Daniel Sturridge. Quality finishing in the box was the difference between the teams and it's something that Eddie Howe knows his side has to improve on. While AFCB showed more inventiveness in the second half with Pugh on the left wing and Grabban running through the centre it was Josh King who offered most hope for a goal and he found the back of the net in the 90+3 minute with a low strike just inside the box, but it was merely a consolation.
Liverpool supporters and flags.
There was only one change from the previous match against Villa for AFCB with a fully fit Junior Stanislas replacing Lewis Grabban. AFCB set up 4-5-1 with King playing upfront and Stanislas looking to break from midfield. It was a strong line up for the Cherries and one that should have been able to take the game to a Liverpool side that included the recognisable names of Sturridge, Firmino, Lucas, Allen and Ibe but otherwise saw the youngsters take on AFCB including the keeper Danny Ward who was not even in the match programme.

Liverpool fans Sid and Paul give their pre-match views.
We were ticket tout interrupted but carried on - very professional.

Lucas and Elphick take a wreath to the Liverpool fans in 
memory of the 96 who lost their lives at Hillsborough 27 years ago.
Sturridge and Firmino kick off.
There are more pictures on Match Day Gallery.

It was a bit of a strange first 45 minutes that resembled a pre-season match to me. Neither side really fell into a pattern of lay and in the first minute Max Gradel was up ended by Randall. AFCB were guilty of misplaced passes with Daniles and then Surman especially at fault when Sturridge found himself clear through only for Boruc to make a good save to his left.

Steve Cook was busy already making last ditch tackles on Sturridge. It took five minutes before the Cherries got up the other end and then Steve Cook could not quite get over Francis' deep cross.

When Liverpool came forward Cook only pushed his header back into the path of Firmino who blasted his shot over from 25 yards out. Josh King was running hard and past Lucas only to be pushed in the box but the ball had already run out for a goal kick.

With Sturridge finding the offiside flag it looked like AFCB were finding a way to slow Liverpool down. More than that they were breaking well with Ritchie passing up the chance to shoot and then Sanislas doing the same in trying to find King when he might have tried his luck. Gosling won a foul while Ritchie had a shot that was driven wide of the left post.

Liverpool were pressing AFCB's back four with Cook and Boruc often under pressure with Ojo and Firmino in hot pursuit. Firmino was finding space on the left but his cross was chipped comfortably for Boruc to catch.

A foul on Josh King on 19 minutes gave Ritchie a chance to get the ball in the box. With only two in the wall he might have shot but he drove in a curling cross that Elphick headed well but right at Danny Ward in the Liverpool goal.

The next problem came down AFCB's left with Ojo beating Gradel and Daniels and weaving his way into a shooting space where he hit his shot straight at Cook's chest only for Randall to fire his shot against Cook and then have a second go hat Boruc saved. Liverpool were pressing for the break through and when Sturridge ran into the box on a pass from Allen, Steve Cook managed to get his foot n and almost directed the ball pass Boruc but the keeper made a fine save with 27 minutes gone.

The Cherries' had a period of controlled passing with Gradel, Stanislas and Gosling linking well before Stansilas' shot was blocked. King was doing his usual robbing act on Kevin Stewart when the Liverpool midfielder dallied too long, but the Cherries weren't getting clear chances. Even when King got in front of Lucas and the ball bobbed up at Lucas' hand there was no handball given.

A clear chance did fall to Liverpool though on 41 minutes when Sturridge had a back heeled shot saved well by Boruc with the striker his back to goal, but Firmino was on the spot to run the ball home and give Liverpool the lead 0-1 with Daniels unable to stop Firmino.

Three minutes of extra time also proved costly for the Cherries as Ritchie fouled Ibe on the left and the free kick taken by Jordon Ibe was met by an unmarked Daniel Sturridge who headed down to Boruc's right and put Liverpool 0-2 up on half time.
The managers look on.
Second Half
Something needed to be done to get the Cherries back into this game and Eddie turned to Lewis Grabban and subbed Junior Stanislas. The first five minutes of the second half was still dominated by the white shirts of Liverpool though. Francis conceded an early corner and Boruc had to make a low down save after the ball was fired in from the left wing. The keeper then dropped a cross and luckily Firmono shot wide.

The best chance though for Liverpool came on 53 minutes when Gosling found himself stretched in midfield trying to reach a throw from Francis. The ball fell to Allen who made a pass to Sturridge. The striker was through and decided to chip and the ball past Boruc but glanced wide off the bottom of the post when everyone thought it would be another goal.

When Toure then went down in his box asking for play to stop before then suddenly getting up the North stand shouted cheat as AFCB had been on the attack. The centre half seemed perfectly okay seconds later which infuriated the home crowd.

Eddie Howe turned to Pugh on 59 minutes with Max Gradel departing.  The winger made an immediate impact by winning a free kick off of Ojo. Ritchie fired the ball into Grabban and there were shouts of handball by Toure but not penalty was awarded. This one did look like hand to ball.

A following corner had AFCB fans baffled as Steve Cook ran over to take it. The ball was quickly fed out by Gosling to Francis who played the ball straight back for Cook to head but the centre forward was offside.

King was proving a nightmare for Lucas who cut back inside him and had a shot saved well, low down, by Ward on 65 minutes. Toure was perhaps thankfully subbed for Sakho to come on after 65 minutes. King immediately welcomed Sakho to the game by going past him and almost scoring having got past Lucas in the box, but a clawing arm of a scrambling Ward just pushed to ball away to safety.

Surman was becoming more influential now in setting up play, while Grabban was also pushing the team forward.

Klopp brought on Origi for Firmino and there was a huge welcome for Callum Wilson coming on for Matt Ritchie on 76 minutes. Lallana also replaced Ibe a minute later.

The Cherries were chasing the game ow with King seeing his shot blocked and then Grabban seeing his header saved down low to the left by Ward - a super save!

Liverpool were far from quite though with Stanislas rattling the bar o 83 minutes. Another handball shout against Brad Smith was waved away by referee Mike Jones. Surman then made a burst into the box but the ball was played just behind him by King. Wilson was then fouled by Lucas on the left and the free kick was strangely defended by a crouching Brad Smith that glanced of his chest and then his arm but again - no penalty.

Sturridge again had a chance but chipped over as Liverpool looked to close out the game. Pugh was starting to cause problems for Liverpool down their right though and Liverpool tried to play keep ball knowing that the AFCB subs were full of energy.

From a corner Francis kept the ball in with a good header and King had his header cleared just in front of the goal line. With three minutes of added time, the ball did break from a Surman pass to Josh King on the left side of the box. His instant turn and shot finally beat Ward in his bottom right corner and gave the Cherries a goal, but it was all too late. While a last rally by AFCB saw Pugh make a cross for Cook to head the attempt flew over and the match was ended.

Liverpool had beaten AFCB yet again and the three points were heading back to the Mersey.
AFCB still fail to beat a Liverpool side.
No points but a strong finish from the Cherries.
The Cherries should have fancied themselves to get something from this game when they looked at the team sheet. Many of Liverpool's big names were left on the bench and yet the home side could not take advantage of that and a scramble in the box and one set piece had left them chasing the game in a second half that had little incident and was well controlled by Liverpool. While Josh King again showed why he has been one of the finds of the season in this AFCB team the only real plus points were the continued strong form of Lewis Grabban and the return of Junior Stanislas with a few more minutes for Callum Wilson.

Boruc, Francis, Elphick, Cook, Daniels, Surman, Ritchie (Wilson 77), Gosling, Stanislas
(Grabban 45), Gradel (Pugh 59), King

Cherries' Subs
Federici, Wiggins, Pugh, O'Kane, Wilson, MacDonald, Grabban

AFCB Ratings
Boruc 6, Francis 6, Elphick 6, Cook 6, Daniels 5, Surman 6, Ritchie 6, Gosling 6, Stanislas 5 (Grabban 7), Gradel 5 (Pugh 6), King 8 

Ref Watch: Mike Jones - 7/10 I did not think much of AFCB's handball claims and the ref had a decent game and allowed some quick free kicks as the game went on

Ward, Randall, K Touré (Sakho 67), Lucas, Smith, Ojo, Stewart, Allen, Ibe (Lallana 78), Firmino (Origi 75), Sturridge

Liverpool Subs
Mignolet, Flanagan, Sakho, Milner, Coutinho, Lallana, Origi
AFCB fan Matt Adam @SeaScalpel predicted the right score this weekend for the game.

Meanwhile, All Department's podcast with Damien Hill is already out - see All Departmens' website to listen in.

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