Monday, 8 May 2017

The Cherries are again the comeback kings

There is an inner steel about Eddie Howe's side that has started to emerge, having come through periods like they did in January and February when they only picked up a couple of points. Taking on established mid-table sides like Stoke City and coming out of them having taken four points from the six on offer though is evidence that AFCB's players are getting used to competing well in the Premier League, and going behind in games is not currently causing them to go into their shell.
Not the win that AFCB wanted but a solid enough performance against Stoke City.
Stoke  City certainly came to frustrate AFCB with their defensive set up and mindset of just blocking any attempt of AFCB's to get around the side of them. AFCB found it hard to create many early chances, and I don't remember Jack Butland being forced to get his gloves on anything much in the first half hour. It was a fierce game and at times some of the football seemed secondary just to getting one over on the opponent. Mark Hughes is one of those managers who does not seem to care how his team gets results, as long as they get them, and he tried to get his team to do all they could to disrupt any patterns of passing play that the Cherries tried to implement by fair means or foul. That was his real intention that he hides in the word 'frustrate'.

In such games it is always a big set back when you concede the first goal and to let in a goal from a corner was no doubt annoying for Eddie Howe, as the side will have been taking lots of them in training last week knowing that it would be a strength of Stoke City. AFCB never looked out of touch though in this match and they did not get overly frustrated, despite playing much of the game going from side to side across the pitch in their attempts to find an opening. But Eddie could see like the fans that the side was not penetrating enough and the introduction of Ryan Fraser, in the second half, changed the attacking aspect of the game for AFCB. 

It was Adam Smith though that turned provider with his excellent width and powerful running on the right wing when he came forward. The equaliser was the goal that AFCB hoped would turn the game and yet to go behind again soon after should have knocked the stuffing out of them. This is where we are starting to see a different mentality in the Cherries as they have made comebacks before against other good sides at home such as Liverpool, and there is a belief that they can always get a goal or two more, even as the clock is running down. When the second equaliser came, it was noticeable how Max Gradel ran eagerly back to the Stoke goal to retrieve the ball and try and see if they could even fashion a winner. While that did not materialise, it showed how much the players wanted to win the game and they were certainly determined to break the Stoke City side down. 

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