Written by Neil Dawson
Well, that was different! A game so entertaining and eventful with so little meaningful action in open play. both keepers relatively untested but nine bookings, three penalties and many talking points. Ultimately two evenly matched sides in similar positions playing out the inevitable draw……but if only Josh King hadn’t had a brain fart with his late penalty.
The team news gets more interesting by the week. Steve Cook, the latest big player to succumb to injury allowing Mepham his debut. Solanke returned up front with the team moving back to the more familiar 4-4-2. Clyne returned for Rico. With Lerma booked today it’s down to the bare bones for the next two jollies against Arsenal and City.
Wolves started the better side, Clyne and Mepham guilty of giving the ball away and the latter also rolling a ball off his arm in the box and facing a nervous three seconds before realising Captain Incompetent was reffing and he could have caught it had he wished. Ibe was at his profligate worst and we were penned back in. Only lung bursting Josh King runs offered a way out. The defence got on top though being excellent at blocks and positioning and Mepham played his way into the game starting to play make from the back with a calm assurance.
Bournemouth thus grew into the game with Fraser and Smith starting to cause problems. A breakthrough either sides solid defences looked unlikely though unless something unusual happened. Step forward Roger East who ruled a knock on KING in the box was a clear penalty. Step forward the quicksilver Norwegian to fire past Patricio and move within one of Wilson at the clubs golden boot challenge.
That kind of played out the first half. Solanke showed some good turns in moments, Ibe continued to mix crapness and effectiveness and King was the best forward threat. Smithy was nervous after his first-minute booking. Wolves threatened once, Mepham had grown after a nervy start but he lost the ball to Jota but Jiménez just missed the cross at full stretch.
HT Afcb 1 Wolves 0
The second half saw Wolves again start well. Boruc had to be smart to turn Leodonckers header over and from the resulting corner, Boly headed onto the roof of the net when he should have done better. Again though, in a repeat of the first half Wolves shrank and Bournemouth should have sealed the match in a mid-half period of typical football and high pressing. Solanke got up well to head wide from Kings cross. The 19m striker should have opened his account on the next attack. He delayed on the trigger twice to work the best position but then shot weakly with the goal at his mercy ten yards out and Patricio got a hand to it.
Ibe then nearly put all his wrongs of the match to bed cutting in from the left, beating his man and curling agonisingly against the crossbar…two inches too high for a wonder goal.
It looked like Bournemouth would hang on but step forward Ref Roger…bored from restricting his afternoon to scattering cards like a Clinton door to door salesman. He saw a pen when Jiminez had already got his shot away before being caught by Smith. JIMINEZ finished calmly from the spot. He was back on it when Fraser was tripped outside the box giving a chance to King to return the lead….the big Norwegian lost the cat and mouse game with the keeper and fired wide of the same corner.
Injury time saw one smart stop to deny Solankes header from a corner…and that was that.
FT Bournemouth 1 Wolves 1
Boruc 7…commanding and good distribution in the main.
Smith 6… nervy after booking, attacked well, gave away a pen with a late challenge.
Mepham 7…confident debut although caught a few times and outpaced.
Ake 8…excellent all game, athletic and dominant.
Clyne 6…tidy but a little reserved in attack.
Fraser 7…industrious and always looking for the jugular.
Gosling 7…non stop blocking and getting foot in. Not the greatest creativity.
Lerma 6…some nice turns and shielding. Hopefully ban will help him get back to old style.
Ibe 6… 6 is the average of all his 8 and 4 moments.
King 7…pacy and threatening…good out ball option.
Solanke 6…worked hard but still understanding how we play and finding a role.
Mom… a masterclass of defending by Ake gets it for me.
I will leave the ref to others. I always think you have done well when both sets of fans think you cost them the game! From us, it was a ‘nearly’ Bournemouth performance. A game I think we would have won without injuries with players not quite at that level filling gaps and doing their best in the circumstances. That’s something to be proud of. It will get well stretched with Arsenal and a City up next and we will all be glad to get this week done and get people fit for the run in.
I think we lacked quality in the final third today but Solanke and Ibe are no Wilson and Brooks yet. I’m still trying to work out what type of striker Solanke is…but he showed glimpses of quality and it was a shame for his start he didn’t put his foot through his chance. Mepham looks a typical Eddie buy. I think what it shows us is we need to keep developing the squad. Defensively we were sound but lacked creativity in midfield…that ball player next to Lerma is still essential.
Still…I have good hope for the run in (after Saturday) and we are building a good nucleus. A lot to be content about after a frenetic afternoon.
AFCB Lost in Brum wrote…
Was most pleased with Mepham and Solanke.
Mepham looks very calm and sensible, while Solanke worked incredibly hard and kept putting the defenders under pressure.
The amount of running Gosling did was both immense and essential – I hate to admit it but Wolves played very well, moved the ball really quickly, and we needed someone to keep breaking that up.
King looks like he’s struggling with some kind of injury or strain, he kept having to stretch – I’d like to have seen Surridge come on for the last ten or fifteen mins.
And as for our Jordon…
He really is an enigma wrapped up in a conundrum. His drive that won the penalty and THAT shot which hit the bar prove he has the talent but the way he repeatedly gets caught in possession and chooses to play the wrong ball is infuriating.
Anyway, a draw was the right result.
EDITED TO ADD: It was great to see us get stuck in when we needed to. It was a battle and we were up for it. – Join the conversation, click here.