Date: 18th January 2015 at 4:53pm
Written by: northstandmark

Going into yesterday’s game on the back of the first league defeat in months last weekend, it was going to be interesting to see what side Howe picked. It was Yann who did much of the damage to Rotherham in the Cup match, and with Pitman having a quiet game last week perhaps there was some surprise amongst the travelling support that Pitman retained his place. Thank Howe he did!

One change I didn’t expect was in goal, with Camp coming in. Otherwise it was ‘as you were’ with our normal ‘league’ lineup.

If Rotherham were punished for being open at times in that Cup game, they started out determined to remain solid this time and often didn’t go looking for attacking opportunities much. The tackles snapped in from early on. Rotherham were clearly going to be a little more direct to the new loanee Sammon up front and were to keep numbers around their own half. It meant the opening stages of the game were largely uneventful.

The only event of note however was very frustrating. Pitman doing his best impression of Fletch headed on superbly for Callum Wilson to chase. Wilson and the defender got to it around the same time and had a bit of a tussle, seemed 50/50 and not much to worry about. Wilson got onto the ball, picked his spot, finished calmly and turned away to celebrate as the away end erupted. But hang on, play has been stopped. Why? The highlights footage gives no further clues. It would make the home crowd’s upcoming discontent with the referee all the more unjustified.

As the sleet and rain started to fall, it became a real sleeves up and get at ’em affair. Arter was patrolling midfield like a terrier giving as good as he got. Rotherham went close with one effort from range that Camp parried, his save so nearly falling for Rotherham to tap in. Luckily it was just out of reach.

The tide gradually turned more and more in our favour as the half went on, with efforts from Wilson and Ritchie going close. It was into stoppage time that the deadlock was broken. A free kick given inside the Rotherham half riled the home crowd.

Given the conditions and the style in which the game had been played so far, Daniels decided to do away with the short quick free kick and just pumped it into the box. Elphick jumped and got something on it, the ball bouncing into the net off the woodwork for 1-0. What a time to score!! The highlights I see suggest that it may in fact be an own goal, but hopefully Elphick gets to keep it.

The half time whistle seconds after the goal incensed the home crowd all the more and got Steve Evans into a right tizz. Howe was having none of it and went straight down the tunnel, leaving Evans to his tantrum with the officials and several Cherries players.

The second half started much the same as the first, the conditions less than ideal and the Cherries needing to match Rotherham for grit and effort and earn the right to then supply some attacking flair.

The all important second goal came on the hour mark. Good work in midfield released Daniels running towards the byline. His cross on the floor was intended for Pitman but was just too far ahead. The defender made a right mess of it and couldn’t clear, both Pitman and defender ended up on the slippery wet turf trying to connect with the ball. Pitman had a moment of genius with his backside on the floor and managed to flick the ball up, it fell to Wilson who hooked the ball home for 2-0. The players on mass ran to celebrate with the support behind the goal, the excitement written all over their faces. A nice moment.

The second half ran down with chances few and far between for Bournemouth. Pitman went close with a freekick. For Rotherham’s part they really improved and started to play by far their best football at 2-0 down. Instead of just going direct to Sammon they tried to vary it more, get wide and get crosses in. A series of set pieces and crosses into the box tested Camp and the central defence, thankfully for the most part Camp and co were more than up to the task.

Howe did bring Gosling on and left Pitman up front on his own to try and sure things up. I felt this didn’t work. Pitman was instantly less happy on his own up front and it was a total contrast to the superb job Brett had done up to that point in playing between midfield and attack. Wilson is a far better outlet to run the ball down, and Brett was doing a perfectly good job mixing it up in midfield when needed himself. The closing stages were nervy, we couldn’t keep the ball and the shape fell away at times, but thankfully it wasn’t as nervy as it might had Rotherham managed to score.

Anyway moan over, and sorry to state the obvious, but had Rotherham had a little more technical gile and ability the tie would not have been as simple as it otherwise was. Rotherham had openings, they just seemed unable to provide the final ball. Perhaps a symptom of the side being a revolving door of players who don’t know each other.

I have to give Pitman immense credit. If there was a player you might not be confident about on a freezing dark Yorkshire afternoon against a robust and confrontational side – it would be Brett. Or at least Brett of the past.

These days, he’s an all action, all graft, complete forward. Able to play target man, creative midfielder, ball winner, anything and everything that Wilson might have wanted. Pitman’s performance in that role just off Wilson yesterday was perfection and exactly what the game required. Man of the match by an absolute mile.
It wasn’t pretty – but we got the result.

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