Date: 19th November 2016 at 8:14pm
Written by: Uttoxeter Cherry

Only Cherries fans long in the tooth will remember matches away at Stoke with much fondness. Last season was particularly painful with the sad loss of Mick Cunningham making Callum’s almost season ending injury seem insignificant.

An easy journey across the A50 for me made this akin to a home game, arriving in plenty of time to see the warm ups. Mousset has a hell of a shot on him and I hope we see him in action soon. I don’t think Callum got one past Alsopp, who was on stopping duty it’s the absence of Boruc, but it was good to see him back after a hamstring tweak. Gosling continued to deputise for surman, with Stanislas in for a curiously absent Ibe, who I now understand was ill. This was probably quite lucky as I expected him to be dropped for this game anyway. The most interesting change was to see Ake starting at centre back with Francis shifting to his familiar right back role.

It was obvious from the start that Ake can play. He seems to read the game well and is comfortable on the ball, sometimes too comfortable though. The game started with Cherries on the front foot pressing Stoke when they had the ball and passing the ball around at ease. There were early chances for Callum when a lovely Wilshire through ball put him clean through, only to be controversially flagged offside. Another chance came soon after when Wilson broke the offside trap to have a 1 on 1 chance. With the expectant away following hoping for an early shot, he took the ball into the area and, delaying the shot, gave chance for the backtracking defender to slide in to prevent the chance. Now, this was either a fantastic challenge, like Francis on Vardy last season, or a penalty. In all honesty I couldn’t tell, but all around me were sure it was a pen. Not for the last time in the game Roger East made a decision that angered one set of fans or the other. No penalty. At least he was consistently bad for both teams, although the Stoke fans believed that most decisions went Bournemouth’s way. This included a foul on Francis on the right wing. From the resulting free kick, Stanislas whipped in the ball and Ake drifted in to head in from close range. I must admit that when the free kick was given I said to my son that we rarely score from these positions. Egg. On Face.

Stoke had an opportunity to equalise almost immediately when a ball around our box broke to Allen who was brought down by Arter, who received a yellow. From the resulting kick, Shaquiri/Bojan blasted it over the top.
The rest of the half saw both teams trade punches with the Cherries looking solid. Stoke had opportunities though, notably Arnoutavich who fluffed from a cross when well placed in the box.

So we made it to half time 1-0 up and feeling quite optimistic after an impressive display of passing and possession. We were much the better footballing team.

The 2nd half was barely underway when after a tangle in the box involving Francis, East awarded Stoke a velvet soft penalty. Both players were moving away from goal and it seemed the Stoke player ran into our captains leg to somersault himself over. In the ensuing melee, Federici was booked for time wasting or gamesmanship. Whatever it was it worked, as Bojan stepped up to crash the ball against the upright and away to safety. Justice done.

Cherries continued to boss possession although Stoke had numerous chances to equalise on the break but failed to really test Feds, shooting either wide or tamely at our replacement no 1. We had a number of chances ourselves to finish them off, but it in our usual way, passed when a shot would have been better or vice versa.

As time drew on, Stoke threw on Crouch and went more direct but our defence were superb and nullified most of this aerial bombardment. 1 pin ball incident apart, we looked confident. Afobe and Pugh came on to run the clock down which the former did especially well.

The final whistle was greeted with huge celebration as we recognised the huge effort the team had made in holding off the onslaught at the end.

Feds – not much to do. Time wasting masterclass at times. 7
Daniels- some good forward runs but work cut out at back. 7
Ake – superb debut. Caught in possession sometimes but recovered wonderfully. MOM 8
Cook – calm and confident and 1 great forward run 8
Francis – got work going forward although like Daniels busy at back 7
Arter – snarling and majestic. 8
Gosling – solid and worked hard 7
Wilshire – intelligent and super passing 7
Stanislas – good runs and free kicks and an assist. 7
King – so strong and hard working 7
Wilson – kept defenders busy. Good running. 7

MOM Ake for epic debut.

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