Written by Neil Dawson
Bournemouth and Jason’s unbeaten start to the season moves on after Norwich strode into town and strode back out again with another Danjuma special leaving them empty-handed. It wasn’t the easiest watch with Bournemouth still adjusting to a new formation and Norwich full of passing football that meant we had long periods of chasing the ball, but three points are three points and keeps us in touch with the division pace-setters.
As expected Kelly missed out with Rico coming in at left centre back and Smith moving to wing-back. Billing came back after Gosling’s poor show at Boro and Danjuma switched to the centre in a new 3-5-2 line up which gave the three in midfield that the team seems to have missed in the opening games.
The first half was full of pretty football by both sides but not over-brimming with substance. Norwich were missing their two best players Cantwell and Bendia both pending moves. Brooks for us was ‘ill’ which will make the more conspiratorial fans wonder although King made the bench. As a result, all the pretty build-ups lacked end product although Norwich enjoyed richer possession and Bournemouth played increasingly on the break. Our best chance was created and smashed by Solanke but Krul saved well. The big Dutch stopper also foiled Stacey’s downward header. At the other end, Begovic turned in an uncharacteristically decent performance and smartly denied Hernandez and Rupp.
It looked like it was going to take something special to score and it came when Lerma found DANJUMA who brilliant let the ball run across him to get a yard and then fired unerringly into the bottom corner with his left foot from the edge of the area. Two home games – two worthy match-winners so you feel a little that there is no crowd for our fast-rising St John’s Ambulance men’s’ favourite player.
HT Bournemouth 1 Norwich 0.
The second half was largely dominated by Norwich but again with little end quality and Cook and Rico in excellent form denying space and blocking. There were a couple of penalty shouts but both were ridiculous – the sort of decisions only given to Manchester United by VAR but absent in all other forms of football. Their possession was relentless though and Bournemouth were suffering with an out ball – Solanke, in particular, showing the reactiveness of a pub crowd at 10 pm curfew times. The much-maligned 20m ‘hit’ man had a golden opportunity as well to bury the match but he headed Danjumas cross softly into the air from 6 yards and over the bar when it was easier to score. Picture the closed eyes kid at school that hated heading if your stream went down.
So the game remained technically on a knife-edge but in reality, I never thought Norwich would score as they brought on a succession of average strikers who were no match for our back three. In contrast, we were able to bring on King who looked majestic with some bursts down the wing and some great time-wasting meandering as the game ran its course.
There were a couple of minor cardiac arrest moments with Pukki stretching for a cross and Hugill heading wide but it was generally a calm finish with Bournemouth even pushing for a second in injury time.
FT Bournemouth 1 Norwich 0
Man of the Match against Norwich?
Begovic 7 – Excellent saves and one moment aside assured handling and kicking.
Mepham 6 – Calm and steady, not hugely noticeable.
Cook 7 – Excellent marshalling and positioning.
Rico 7 – More suited to a defending role than a wing-back in my opinion.
Stacey 6 – Quieter of the two wing-backs but tidy.
Cook 7 – Excellent first half in deep role – caught more often in 2nd
Lerma 6 – More advanced and gave press energy a slight lack of quality
Billing 6 – Some useful foot ins but doesn’t hugely affect a game.
Smith 7 – Burst around with energy but needs to be on the right side.
Danjuma 8 – Some real moments of quality including the main one.
Solanke 5 – Gave it away, lacked intelligence, missed a sitter, subbed.
We were all saying how tough these first three games would be but somehow we won both home games and got a draw away without really clicking. We will only get better from here on in, we are still learning about this league. JT is still learning about his squad, which formations work with which players etc.
It wasn’t always pretty but we made a great fist of a tough start, so plenty of cause for optimism! – Join the conversation, click here.