AFC Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe was pleased with the majority of the performance away to Crystal Palace.
Ahead of the trip to Selhurst Park, the Cherries had won four of their last eight fixtures in all competitions, with the only defeats coming to Chelsea and Burnley.
Adam Smith was suspended, with his fifth booking of the season coming after a booking for a dive which the referee had later accepted was the wrong decision.
That saw Steve Cook move back into the centre of defence alongside Nathan Ake, with Simon Francis bumped back over to right back.
The opening goal of the game came via an excellent training ground routine.
Whilst the corner may have only involved three passes between Andrew Surman, Junior Stanislas and goalscorer Jermain Defoe, it also involved a vital contribution from Ake, Cook and Joshua King.
The latter made an important block to give Defoe the free shot, the former creating the space, an excellently crafted goal.
Unfortunately that hard work was cancelled out via some dubious gamesmanship from Wilfried Zaha, who had beaten Ake and was one on one with Asmir Begovic, his touch was running out of play and Zaha fell down to the ground to initiate the contact with Begovic. Despite it looking awkward Kevin Friend pointed to the spot and booked Begovic.
Crystal Palace scored the resulting penalty and turned the game on it’s head when they scored their second just minutes later.
Jermain Defoe scored a goal of the season contender when he latched on to Lewis Cook’s pass, Defoe allowed the ball to bounce over his shoulder and from an acute angle, he hit the ball on the volley lofting it over the goalkeeper and into the net.
There was late drama as Wilfried Zaha won his side another penalty despite Charlie Daniels winning the ball, but Begovic saved.
Despite this happening in stoppage time at the end of the game, there was still time for the referee to wave away AFC Bournemouth’s own claims for a penalty as a Crystal Palace player handled in the box.
Howe told the afcb.co.uk…
‘I think if they`d have scored late on it would`ve been hard for us, we played well.
‘The team were very good today and passed it excellently, there was a really good balance about the team and I am pleased with the majority.
‘They have a huge physical threat and we were under pressure in the last ten, we defended for our lives.
‘I`m really pleased with the mentality of the team.
Second half the midfield was dominated by Palace. They were pressing the life out of L.Cook and Surman who received little support from wingers or attackers, were just left to it, so isolated. All their skills and quality doesn’t make up for them being out numbered and out muscled by 3 and often more Palace players constantly on them.
The obvious change was to reinforce midfield with a third body, and we had Arter and Gosling on the bench. Yet Howe tinkers with wingers and attackers, literally tinkering around the edges whilst the spine of the side begged for help, and the game became ever more loose, niggly and ragged. Those changes in the final third do nothing if we can’t win or keep the ball in the middle third.
Palace would have just about earned their winner had Begovic not pulled us out a good stop (although it was a poor strike). Question marks over the validity of the pen aside, they simply got stronger and stronger with no relevant response from us. It so nearly cost us. – Join the conversation here.
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