Sunday, 22 January 2017

Afobe to the rescue - AFCB 2 v 2 Watford

Match Report
AFCB 2 v 2 Watford
21 January 2017
Attendance: 11,123
AFCB prepare to play Watford.
AFCB had to comeback twice against Watford at home to earn a draw in a match that again saw them struggle to find their feet at times. The first half seemed to be building well for the Cherries when Britos flicked on a corner at the near post and Kabasele headed in on 24 minutes. From that moment the Cherries lost momentum and confidence and started to find it hard to get much passing going at all. A second half comeback was required and a right wing move by Adam Smith that saw him nutmeg Britos, before delivering a low cross that Josh King simply tapped home to equal the scores, just two minutes into the second half. But again Watford replied with a near post header from Troy Deeney that Artur Boruc couldn't keep out, having tried to punch the corner ball away. It was left to Benik Afobe to save the day as a super sub, and he leapt on to Andrew Surman's great pass six minutes from time to earn a welcome point for Eddie Howe's side at Dean Court.
Here come the teams.
There were a couple of changes to the starting line up as Benik Afobe was moved to the bench along with Harry Arter who had not done much training in the week. Eddie wanted height in the team and to play two up front so Callum Wilson and Josh King got the starts as Jack Wilshere adopted a deeper role next to Andrew Surman.

Watford just made one change with Tom Cleverley coming in for Behrami in their midfield.
Watford are set to go.
There are more pictures on Match Day Gallery.


The Cherries did their best to get a quick start with a Junior Stanislas won corner in the first minute. More eyes were on Troy Deeney though, as he lost his boot and took a minute to get it back on before ribbing Adam Smith and shooting wide at the other end.

The Cherries were looking a shade unsettled with Ryan Fraser putting the ball skyward in his own box, but the clearance was eventually made. Watford were pressing high and while Okaka had Tyrone Mings by the short he almost robbed him of the ball at the back, although unfairly.

Adam Smith might have got a shot off when Junior Stanislas gave him a good way in on the right, but Adam chose the wrong option, despite the crowd yelling at him to shoot. A second Bournemouth corner saw Callum Wilson head wide.

While Prödl had a high shot into the stands, it was AFCB pushing forward. With Jack Wilshere the Cherries almost found a way through, with his delicate chip that Ryan Fraser headed on and it almost looped over Gomes until he scrambled back to tip it over for another corner.

Callum Wilson was also seeing the ball in the box, fed again by the ever present Wilshere, but he couldn't stay on his feet just when it mattered. Gomes was tested though moments later when Wilshere let loose and Gomes parried the shot away on 20 minutes.

AFCB were again to create their own problems though. A poorly kick by Boruc was intercepted by Tom Cleverley and while Daniels seemed to rescue the situation at first, Fraser made a bad pass and Okaka soon had Mings running backwards towards the byline and he gave away a corner. A simple head on by Britos came at just the right height for Kabasele and he headed from six yards out to give Watford the lead. Two yellow flares suddenly went off in front of the Watford stand, which will no doubt be in Lee Mason's match report as the Watford fans celebrated their early lead.

The Cherries found it hard to find that early penetration though as they tried to recover. Sloppy passing, offsides from Wilson and Wilshere shooting over just added to the frustration that this wasn't looking like a great day for AFCB. 

Tom Cleverley almost made things worse when he shot from the right just wide of Boruc's right post. Steve Cook was getting annoyed that he couldn't find anyone to pass to going forward. Steve Cook and Wilshere even had words later when the ball was around the Cherries' box as they were having so much difficulty in playing out from the back. Watford's press was working well.

Bournemouth did come close to scoring though when Watford lost the ball and Stanislas hit a deflected shot that looped off a defender, and had Gomes again having to tip a shot over. AFCB remained 0-1 down at half time.
It's not going well at half time.
Benik Afobe warms up before having the last word as sub.
Second Half
It was not long before the Cherries dismissed what had gone in the first 45 minutes. Adam Smith's swift nutmeg on Britos had the fans laughing, but even better was to come when he crossed and at the far post Josh King had a simple tap in to level the scores on 47 minutes. Now were we going to see the real Bournemouth? You bet.

The ball was move with more pace and ferocity as the Cherries seemed to have finally arrived in the match. Ryan Fraser was making things tricky for Watford on the right and was getting crosses in now.

Holebas tried is luck though from 25-yards and forced a good save from Boruc - it wasn't quite one way traffic.

On the break though it was Wilshere that was getting more of the ball now. He played a good ball into Fraser who stepped into the box and pulled a wonderful save out of Gomes, low to his left. AFCB were really looking to grab the lead with Wilson chasing the ball all the way back to Gomes in the hope of a mistake.

A break in play saw Janmaat replace Okaka on 62 minutes, and the break in concentration worked well for the Hornets. A corner ball was not met by Adam Smith, Andrew Surman or Boruc, who tried to punch, but Troy Deeney did get something on the ball and it nestled in AFCB's net to make it 1-2 against the run of play.

AFCB were up against it here. Lee Mason was watching Watford trying to prevent Jack Wilshere from making a swift break and Holebas was yellow carded for his blatant pull back on the half way line. 

A wayward shot from King was then the signal for Howe to sub Josh for Ibe, while Afobe came on for Junior Stanislas. Anything to put pressure on Watford was the task now. 

Kabul tried to waste time by kicking the ball away after Watford had won a goal kick and was duly yellow carded by Lee Mason. Marc Pugh was then brought on with nine minutes to go to replace the fantastic Ryan Fraser, who had run his socks off. 

It had to be soon if AFCB were to rescue something from this and hopes rose when Surman slotted a ball through to Afobe on the run as Kabalese went down. Benik still had much to do in bursting on into the box and firing a low shot to the far corner, but he did it superbly, beating Gomes for pace to level the scores at 2-2 in the 82nd minute.

Watford made a couple of more subs with Cathcart replacing Kabalese, who had pulled up injured when Surman had made his assist for Afobe's equaliser, and Ighalo came on for Doucouré with just a couple of minutes to go. But it was Howe that had got his subs right.

Steve Cook picked up a yellow card on 90 minutes for a deliberate handball as he tried to redirect a corner towards goal that was subsequently put in the net by Daniels, but it was never going to count.

Callum Wilson had just one last low header that slipped the wrong side of the post from an AFCB point of view before the whistle went after four minutes of added time.
Afobe looks on at the Watford fans.
Time's up.

This was a tough day at the office for the Cherries. They escaped a defeat and, but for Gomes, could even have won the game. But there are still problems to solve - two goals against from set-plays, misdirected passes all over the side, dallying when playing out from the back and struggling to find direction and leadership to really galvanise the team when they are up against it on the pitch. Whatever Eddie said at half time, it certainly worked. The players needed that leadership and to be told they had it in them to get a result against a Watford side that were not offering a great deal of creative threat. Most of their fortune was coming from AFCB mistakes and yet for the side to turnaround, and come back twice, tells me things are okay, the players are fighting for each other. This was a point gained for sure and there's plenty to work on for the next game.

A point gained.
Boruc, A Smith, S Cook, Mings, Daniels, Surman, Wilshere, Stanislas (Afobe 74),
King (Ibe 74), Fraser (Pugh 81), C Wilson

Federici, B Smith, Gosling, Pugh, Arter, Afobe, Ibe

AFCB Ratings
Boruc 5, A Smith 6, S Cook 6, Mings 6, Daniels 6, Surman 6, Wilshere 8, Stanislas 6
(Afobe 7), King 7 (Ibe 6), Fraser 8 (Pugh 6), C Wilson 6

Ref Watch: Lee Mason 8/10 - I enjoyed the way he did his job. Even when he fell over in the second half and laughed at himself. He made sensible bookings, too.

Gomes, Kaboul, Prödl, Britos, Kabasele (Cathcart 85), Capoue, Doucouré (Ighalo 88), Holebas, Cleverley, Okaka (Janmaat), Deeney

Watford Subs
Pantilimon, Cathcart, Zuñiga, Sinclair, Janmaat, Ighalo, Mason

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