Ever the optimist; my Dad announced “I bet they`ll have a Sodje & we`ll lose” on the way to the ground today & past performances when the north has been as ‘grim` as it was today left me with little reason for optimism. Gigg Lane is a remarkably odd ground, because whilst it`s an all-seater with a generous capacity (particularly considering hardly any home fans bother turning up,) there`s more than a whiff of non-league about it from the moment you walk in, the main stand looks like an MC Escher painting of a conservatory & the toilets are still a concrete trench reminiscent of the old Dean Court.
The first half kicked off, & despite recent form, the teams looked very even, Bournemouth a victim of a very shrewd tactical set up from new manager Kevin Blackwell, who had his team pressing, very high up the pitch, leaving us with no time on the ball, no space to run into & no real opportunities to build an attack. Blackwell`s approach paid off early after a mix up at left back, Pugh & Daniels both mystifyingly letting the ball roll past them towards the corner flag, & Bury winger Matt Doherty nipped past them both & put in a fantastic low cross for HEWITT to smash home from a few yards. It was Bury`s first attack & had already yielded them a goal.
Now in Blackwell, Bury might have found themselves a really good manager. On paper, I don`t think a single Bury player would get into the Bournemouth matchday squad, yet despite this lack of quality, for the rest of the half all our usual midfield possession & carefully crafted attacks were stifled before they began, by Bury`s exceptionally hard work closing down our midfielders. Arter hardly completed a pass all afternoon & was constantly conceded possession, Macdonald faring only slightly better through his better touch & awareness. This pressure meant that almost every attack ended with a long punt down the line to Pugh & Mcquoid who were constantly running out of room & running off the pitch in Bury`s full back position.
Meanwhile, at the other end, Kevin ‘Pulis` Blackwell was causing more problems with set pieces from corners & free kicks which bothered the defence every time a ball entered the box & lead to a number of headless chicken moments & clear cut Bury chances; better delivery from a few others would have yielded even more. I`ve seen the Addison thread this week with people swearing almost blind allegiance to the captain, & it`s not an opinion I share after recent away performances. Whilst he wasn`t wearing his Crawley diving suit today, rarely do I get the sense he`s in control of the ball which often leads to a panicked pass straight to the opposition, & his booking today could very easily have been a red card for being both last man and having two feet off the floor; he charged across the Bury attacker with a wild & high lunge which sent the ball flying, the last part of that sentence probably the only thing that kept him on the pitch. I would have had few complaints if he`d received a red. There were other instances as well, letting the ball through his legs when last man necessitating a sharp clearance from James to deny an onrushing attacker, & to conclude this little sideline, I`ll just state that I`m of the opinion that defending ability should be an attribute ranked significantly above leadership & being an all round nice chap.
HT Blackwell 1-0 AFCB
The second half, as against Oldham saw the cherries coming out a completely different side, helped enormously by Bury`s high pressing strategy lapsing through fatigue, a factor which became increasingly evident towards the end of the game, Bournemouth getting more & more on top as the game progressed..
The half started with a clear cut penalty which farcically wasn`t given. From a corner, a Bury defender in a crowd of players deflected the ball behind with his forearm, which was well above his head , a penalty so clear cut it led Bournemouth fans celebrating during the referee`s moment of hesitation before pointing to the spot. After mock incredulous protests from the Bury defenders, the referee for some reason decided that the linesman had something to contribute, from a terrible angle on the other side of the pitch, & after a short debate awarded a corner. I normally err on the side of caution if I didn`t get a clear view of an incident, but it was a clear cut, nailed on penalty & I’ll be interested to see if it’s mentioned in the post match interviews. It should also be mentioned that on his first game back from suspension, Arter was once again booked for dissent during the protests, he tried hard to achieve the same feat in the first half and was given a stern telling off/final warning he just never learns.
Justice prevailed shortly after the farce ended, as Cherries equalised within minutes through a pacy & very slick move. Josh Mcquoid who was sharp all afternoon, received the ball on the right flank, dribbled past two Bury defenders on the edge of the box before switching play with a fantastic diagonal ball to an unmarked Charlie Daniels, who responded with a fantastic driven cross across the six yard box met by GRABBAN who steered the ball into the bottom corner. It was a really classy move, and nothing less than Bournemouth deserved after the opening exchanges in the second half.
As Bury became increasingly more lethargic we began to trouble them more & more, Grabban made a fantastic break down the middle by after a breakdown in a Bury attack, & then laid the ball into the middle to Arter who rather than shoot, attempted a dummy & ran into three players; had the ball arrived at the feet of Tubbs, I strongly suspect it would have ended up in the roof of the net, & Arter quite rightly had his head in his hands as his cock up meant the attack yielded only a corner. It became Bournemouth`s turn to trouble the opposition with set pieces and a number of flapped punches, a couple of goal line clearances, (once with the help of the post,) & general bad luck meant that the scores stayed level, Bury`s lack of any sort of attacking threat saw Bournemouth flooding forward in numbers, & it soon cost us a win, when Bury broke, & had a speculative shot blocked from the edge of the area, the ball looped into the air, David James mysteriously wandered abjectly into no mans land to get nowhere near the ball & WORRALL placed a diagonal shot into an empty net passed a diving Simon Francis. What James was thinking was impossible to fathom from the opposite end of the ground, & I doubt the goal will go on his show reel.
We then pressed and pressed an pressed for an equaliser, and more bad luck conspired against us as a header from a corner was stopped on the goal line by a scuffed clearance. But a member of Eddie`s old guard saved the day once again, PITMAN looked sharp from the moment he came on, & received the ball marked by two players with his back to goal, turned them both before curling the ball beautifully past the keeper with his left foot. It was a very well taken goal & nothing less than we deserved. Bury were dead on their feet by the end & were lucky to escape with any points at all after a very late Marc Pugh shot bounced clear off the bar.
FT Bury 2-2 AFCB
James 4 Very poor, threw the ball straight off the pitch, inconsistent kicking & his madcap rush out of goal cost us three points.
Francis 7 Attacking threat, one of our best players on the day, positioning has improved massively since his early showings.
Elphick 6 Played OK, but still worrying from set pieces.
Addison 4 About as solid as a house of cards built on a jelly.
Daniels 5 Poor in defence, but wonderful assist for the first goal
Mcquoid 6 Sharp, particularly in the second half, caused problems all afternoon.
Arter 5 Mr Hyde today, brushed off the ball with ease all afternoon, booked as usual for persistent douchebaggery, & should have been replaced a lot earlier than he was.
Macdonald 8 Controlled the midfield, brilliant use of space & coped with ease with Bury`s pressing. Impressive.
Pugh 7 A little wasteful in the first half, but was a constant threat & very unlucky not to win the match.
Tubbs 6 played OK, wasn`t offered much service & the ball didn`t fall to him much, didn`t put a foot wrong when he had the ball.
Grabban 7 Scored & should have had an assist after running the length of the pitch & laying it off to Arter. Much improved after poor early season form.
Pitman. 8 Genuinely didn`t put a foot in his 20 minutes & finished his only chance with aplomb. Thrilled he`s back.
O Kane, wasn`t given long enough, & Mcdermott was ineffective but only had 10 minutes.
Man of the Match:
Pitman, Macdonald & Grabban were all fantastic, & I`ll go with Macdonald because he was the only one to perform well in the first half, if Pitman had played how he did for the whole match he would have got it with ease; I`m just not comfortable awarding it to him for 20 minutes!
It`s not difficult to see where the problems lie within the team; we`re scoring two or three consistently so if we`re not winning the blame lies with the defence, they looked nervy all afternoon, particularly in the middle & god only knows what James was thinking when he jogged out of his net this afternoon. We certainly should have won the game, & the attacking performance merited 3 points. Bury were the lucky beneficiaries of 2 goal line clearances, a clear penalty not given & us hitting post & bar, so in the circumstances I was happy to have come away with a point. A very entertaining afternoon.
Report by cummingsfan
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