Written by kirsikka
The day on which I entered my forty-fifth year had been a pretty brutal one at work so I was hoping for a nice easy end to the evening watching the Cherries hopefully keep a battling Wycombe at arm’s length in a routine win. However, deep down, I knew what to expect.
For the first time since taking over, Tindall left the team unchanged from the last match which isn’t a huge surprise given how the previous game played out. On the subs bench, there was room for the lesser spotted Joshua King after his multitude of recent issues.
Bournemouth nearly took an early lead when a Stanislas free kicked produced a flicked header at goal low down that former Cherry’s keeper Ryan Allsop got down low well to save, giving away a corner in the process.
The first corner of the night ended with S Cook missing his kick after a well-worked routine. However, the point to make here is this was the first of many decent corners through the evening. Having yowled repeatedly at our set pieces for some time it was good to see some creativity and accuracy in trying to get them to come off. Hopefully, we’ll see more of this in weeks to come.
The game then fell into a pattern of mostly AFCB possession but when Wycombe were set defensively they would often have a single line of six or seven to crowd the Cherries out as opposed to the more regularly seen two banks of players.
I don’t wish to belittle them as they also showed ambition in trying to break in numbers when they could and that often left space in behind for AFCB to try and counterattack to their counterattack. They weren’t trying to bore us into submission with a sole aim of winning a free kick in our half, they did want to try and pressure us defensively when they could and accepted that meant a little more risk at those times. I kind of liked and respected it as it made for a much more interesting game.
The big frustration for AFCB was the lack of final quality on the ball, be it the shot, the pass or the cross. There was a multitude of half chances but little worth writing home about. A time when Junior should have passed but shot, a time when Brooks couldn’t quite weight his cross to Solanke, a time when Lerma couldn’t get his rasping drive on target and so on.
On 32 minutes Junior tried to slip Kelly down the line but didn’t quite get the pass right-turning it into a 70/30 for the defender. Kelly gave up without chasing it earning a mouthful from Junior. You know how on MotD when they show a player getting booked in the highlights you know there’s a reason for that? Keep that in mind.
The brightest spot in the half was Adam Smith. He was a driving force from full-back, both down the line and, crucially, on the diagonal across the pitch. He caused absolute havoc when he did this as they didn’t know how to cover him and the unusual spaces he was opening up.
Half time stats were 13 shots on goal with 4 on target for the Cherries and 0/0 for Wycombe although they did have a couple of breaks that didn’t quite open up for them. Still, the story of unfulfilled opportunities can be read large there.
No changes at half time and the second half started with more of the same. Solanke declined to throw himself at a Brooks cross when a touch may have turned it in.
Then the warning klaxon sounded. We’ve all seen these games where a team dominates but wastes their chances only for the other team to take their solitary one when it comes. Well, on 51 minutes some sloppy defensive clearing allowed Wycome to ping in a shot from outside the area but the hitherto unneeded Begovic was the equal of it, as he has proven to be many times this season.
Shortly after we saw a booking straight from bizarro-land. Lewis Cook put in an immense and absolutely clean tackle near the halfway line to win the ball ready to push the Cherries into an attack when the ref blew up. Cook was stunned but even more so when Billing, who had been a few yards away, was then booked. Presumably for dissent but it’ll be interesting to see if that is confirmed.
JT switched things up, taking Billing off for Surridge to try and change our attacking lines and the form of our threat. Maybe also mindful of that yellow since it was an odd one.
Merely one minute later on 60 the Cherries got a second shot across the bows when a curled Wycombe effort heading to the far corner of the net was pushed wide by the outstretched Begovic’s fingertips.
This corner turned out to be pivotal as it bounced to the edge of the box near Lewis Cook who’s first touch wasn’t perfect but he was still favourite to get to it again before anyone else. As he flicked it away the onrushing Pattinson threw himself at the ball that was no longer there. In the air and wildly out of control he totally wiped out Cook. Out came the handbags from both sides but it felt like only one outcome was possible. Sure enough, the red came out and Pattinson departed.
We’ll take it but you won’t find many better examples of shooting yourself in the foot when a lot of the hard work has been done.
With the Cherries on the front foot looking for an opening, a heavy cross passed over the whole area and was well kept in play by Brooks who chested it down and found Stanislas inside him. Brooks then darted into the channel where a delightful ball was played through with Junior, in turn, following it up with a run into the middle arriving perfectly for the Brooks cut back from the byline to tap into the net. 1-0 and maybe now the floodgates could open. Maybe.
Four minutes later from a corner routine the ball came to Lewis Cook at the edge of the area and he stepped past a man and fired in a curling shot that seemed to be heading for the far corner until Solanke intercepted it in an effort to chop it into the net and claim the goal himself. However, he only succeeded in knocking it straight into the keeper. Nothing summed up much of our play in this match more than that.
The Cherries then started to sit back more and try and play it out of their half against a Wycombe team now energised to chase everything and encouraged by a series of sloppy attempts that handed them the ball back in potentially dangerous positions. An Akinfenwa header kept out by Begovic the latest of their chances.
A tactical switch from the 4-3-3 to something akin to 3-4-3 didn’t seem to help matters. On the break, we looked like we might score every time, until the final ball, but in defence, we continued to invite the pressure on to us. A risky tactic against ten men as if they’d snaffled a goal then they’d have then put every man behind the ball.
It wasn’t a nervous all-out assault from them but it wasn’t completely comfortable defensively either.
The final moment of note came in the third minute of injury time. Surridge battled for the ball out wide near the halfway line completely isolated against several defenders but he refused to give up and managed to break into the box.
Having done everything all alone when a chance opened up he chose to shoot, which was tipped wide by Allsop, rather than lay it back which caused Junior to give a teammate a mouthful for the second time in the match. Sam didn’t take too kindly to it and grabbed Juniors shirt and it looked about to descend into a farcical situation when they were luckily separated.
So, 1-0 the final score and a match we could have won with ease or could have dropped points in. Sometimes it’s grinding out the result is all that matters and, with the help from Pattinson, we just about managed to do so.
Man of the match against Wycombe
Getting 3 points was all that mattered in the end. Most teams will take 3 points from Wycombe Wanderers, but not all. We didn’t slip up and Watford, Brentford, Bristol City all dropped points. Hopefully Reading, Swansea City and Norwich City will also drop some tonight. – Join the conversation, click here.