Written by kirsikka
After the cup respite at the weekend it was back to the grind of a league campaign with almost the whole team that started the last league match starting again, Brooks for Surridge the only change from then.
That man Brooks looked like he might be having one of his on games at the start, shortly after proceedings beginning he dribbled past three to make space for himself in the area only to see his shot deflected wide by the Millwall keeper.
AFCB were again getting trapped in that left-back position by the press, Lerma lucky to get away with it when gifting the ball away there in a dangerous position. However, we finally saw the point of the play it out from the back tactic as on 11 minutes the Cherries started with the ball in that problem area and worked it across the pitch, then up, then back across the pitch again ending with Solanke laying it back for Stanislas to shoot but Millwall got the block in.
It was a glorious sweeping move with pace, the accuracy of passing (the slight overhit to Solanke the exception) and movement that bypassed the press and took the opposition apart. The perfect demonstration of what we’ve been aiming for with this tactic. We need to see it a lot more now.
Apart from that and despite dominating possession, as so often of late, there was little to show for it in terms of actually creating chances. Millwall were happy to sit back and wait for a mistake and then try to hit us on the break with the most basic of balls through a Grand Canyon size gap that kept appearing between the centre backs.
One of these ended with Wallace clean through on goal but Begovic rushed out and forced the issue with the Millwall player taking a shot that the keeper was able to put out for a corner. From a subsequent corner, a Millwall player leapt highest and sent the ball looping inside the far post with Asmir stranded only to find Lerma there who, with a well-timed jump, cleared it off the line. Two warning signs in quick succession that Millwall could be dangerous.
After a sharp start Brooks was getting progressively worse the more the half went on. Repeated poor passes to give the ball away was allied to being weak on the ball. He drifted around the pitch leaving Smith completely isolated on the right and so we couldn’t build up down that side, meaning the attacking impetus mainly came on the left.
I’m tempted to believe Tindall gave him license to wander to try and find pockets of space in which case that is a management issue. Going three at the back with wing-backs, you can’t leave one of them on his own because you want the guy he’s meant to interact with to go walkabout. It totally nullifies the whole tactical setup and moves the responsibility for winning the game from your carefully planned set up to hoping for a moment of inspiration from an individual.
After giving the ball away and allowing a Millwall break to develop Brooks did chase back but then pushed his man in an off the ball incident to concede a dangerous free-kick. This was fired in but Begovic got down well to save.
As the solitary minute of added time on the half was being played out, Kelly passed to ball to Stanislas in a left of centre position. His man stretched to get it but Junior turned him cleverly in a moment that opened up the whole pitch and suddenly the Cherries had the ball in space running at the Millwall defence for possibly the first time. He headed straight at goal and, with the three defenders all converging on him, laid it into the area for Solanke who had peeled wider. He smashed an absolute pearler of a shot low at the near post which was too powerful for the Millwall keeper to make it 1-0.
The goal was made by Stanislas making the most of the Millwall player overreaching. Excellent work and a superb finish from Dom.
The whistle went for the break and, despite having 68% of possession, we weren’t really good value for the lead having been about as threatening as the snowcat I built with the kids this afternoon.
There was an expectation change would come and we’d see a fired-up second-half performance from the Cherries. Sadly, it seems scoring that goal was of huge detriment to the mindset as Tindall set them up to sit back in the second half, safety first.
Let’s get this straight. Millwall looked solid and a danger when breaking in the first half but they in no way looked spectacular. Sitting in and trying to contain us in the hope they might nick something was their best chance. Now they were forced to come out a bit and chase the game there was more space to exploit so if we went toe-to-toe we would have a very good chance of putting the game beyond doubt. There’s a difference between pragmatism and a lack of courage. This crossed that line into the latter.
The second half performance lacked purpose or drive. Genuinely snore inducing stuff that had me snaffle down almost a whole box of After Eights in an attempt to pass the time. Neither of these are giving me any pleasure now I look back on them.
After being so decisive earlier in the season Tindall is getting more and more conservative with his subs and tactical changes in games that are drifting. His hand was finally forced on 70 minutes when a Millwall player slipped and went straight through Stanislas leaving him limping off the pitch with hopefully nothing serious. Rather than a replacement attacker, Billing came on in what looked to be an attempt to shore things up even more.
Millwall hit the post after a series of odd decisions by the ref but this display can’t be put at his door.
Less than ten minutes later we paid the price for this lack of ambition when a long free-kick was flicked on by a Millwall player who beat Kelly to it all ends up and allowed Smith to tap in to equalise. A problem with marking and a problem in losing that first header so cleanly.
The Cherries almost responded immediately when Solanke held the ball up brilliantly near the Millwall area and then played in Brooks. His first touch was heavy and allowed a defender to get back and put pressure on him so the opportunity ended with a weak shot.
Tindall tried to change things up with belated subs but it was too little too late as two points drifted away on a lacklustre breeze of a performance.
Man of the match against Millwall?