Written by kirsikka
The last time AFCB faced Birmingham with a caretaker manager in one of the dugouts it finished 8-0 prompting the immortal response from one of the Brum fans ‘If he didn’t want the job he could have just told us’. Woodgate reportedly isn’t in the frame for the role so perhaps a repeat wasn’t on the cards.
He made four changes to the starting line up, Long in for an injured Solanke along with CCV, Smith and Lerma in for Stacey, Mepham and Stanislas.
The ref blew and Bournemouth’s fast passing start was constantly interrupted by niggly fouls from Birmingham as Karanka showed his team are well versed in his tactics. This would continue throughout the game with never even a quiet word from the ref never mind yellows for repeat offenders.
Wilshere was instrumental in a strong opening ten minutes with vision and first time passing helping to find players in space giving them an opportunity to try and create something although the door was slammed shut each time.
Thereafter it switched, with Birmingham the team on the offensive and in control of the ball, trying to prise an opening from somewhere.
It’s at this point I make my twice-weekly note that every team will have scouted that we have issues playing it out from left-back and so will make extra an effort when we have it there. In my notes this time it’s in all caps as I lost it a bit when we screwed up there again.
We then saw a moment of astatine rarity, Danjuma tracking back and tackling to break down a dangerous attack on the edge of our area. His hard work allowed him to play the ball back to Lewis Cook who was lurking near the byline but he contrived to lose it to an attacker closing him down when a safety first punt would have been the best option.
The Birmingham forward fired in a low cross which Begovic intercepted but it fell to another attacker who shot past the keeper only to find Steve Cook on the line, somehow managing to head it up and over the bar.
A mere minute later the screw continued to be turned as a cross came in and a Brum attacker beat CCV to the ball to knock it backwards where it was met by a brilliant first-time volley to rocket the ball at the corner of the goal only to see Begovic pull off a miraculous save. One from the top drawer.
After this spell of concerted pressure, the Cherries started to come back into it a bit with the game flowing back and forth between the two sides. However, on 26 minutes Birmingham overlapped down the left and played in a low cross that looked easy for Begovic to deal with only for him to spill it and present Hogan with the simplest of tap ins. It’s the third game running he’s made a serious error although he had some credit in the bank from the excellent save earlier.
When the Cherries did get forward most of their attacking play seemed to end up down the left with Danjuma where it eventually ground to a halt with him ignoring simple passes in order to take men on. With Birmingham often tripling up on him it was the same repeated story of the overlap or inside right run being ignored, him beating the first man only to be crowded out by the second and third.
Woodgate’s face on the touchline was starting to resemble that of a man who had been delivered the wrong takeaway.
Finally, something broke for the Cherries though as the ball came to Wilshere in the middle and he ghosted past a man in a moment that oozed class, leaving the field in front of him unlocked. He picked and played a perfectly weighted ball to Danjuma who, for once, found himself in space with only one man between him and the goal. He wrong-footed the defender with a feint and then opened his body the other way which allowed him to curl it into the far corner for a much-needed equaliser. 1-1.
Half time came and went with no changes to the personnel but it appears as though Danjuma had been on the receiving end of some strong words about using the players around him rather than trying to dribble through spaghetti junction since he immediately started releasing the ball and we looked so much more dangerous for it.
An early corner saw Long beat his man in the air only to send it inches wide with the keeper stranded. However, all over the pitch, there were still moments of sloppiness with Kelly following up one moment of supreme ball control with a ridiculous short pass straight to a Brum player.
The recent mystery around Brooks continued as he still looked subdued and often poor on the ball. In a defensive right-back position on the pitch, he gave the ball away which could have spelt danger for the Cherries if it wasn’t for a good Kelly interception when Birmingham switched it to the other side.
From that, the ball was played forward to Danjuma who broke down the left and then passed inside to Brooks. For once he played the right ball and to the needed standard, finding the marauding Smith who was in space in the inside right spot of their area. He had time to look up and pick out his man, Wilshere, who he tried to reach with a chipped cross.
Should you ask him, I’m sure Jack will say it was deliberate but the way he stretched almost Inspector Gadget style to reach it with his head and made unusual looking contact only for the ball to loop up and over the keeper and drop into the net makes me think there was an element of fortune to the finish. 2-1.
I’m not sure if he was carrying a knock or if it was tactical but my eyebrows made contact with the ceiling as Wilshere was then hooked off, having looked a class above on the pitch, to be replaced by Billing.
A minute later no longer having his range of passing on the pitch looked a mistake when Kelly stood off a player out wide, giving him the space to get in a cross. In the middle, S Cook and CCV covered their one striker like two central defenders that had never met who were both suffering from hangovers as they left him to roam in acres of space and flick a header home. 2-2.
With the result still very much in the balance, both teams continued to probe for another opening and a Cherries breakaway looked extremely promising until Brooks overhit the final pass, leaving Danjuma scurrying out wide instead of through on goal. With two men to beat before he could get a cross in, he slipped it between them and tried to follow only to be taken out to prevent him reaching the ball, giving Bournemouth a free-kick wide left halfway between the area and byline.
The Dutchman stepped up to take it himself and fizzed in a ball that looked like an attempt to curl it in to the far post but seemed destined to miss until the last moment when Billing leapt and flicked the ball back and into the net on the volley. 3-2.
As the game started to wind down Woodgate swapped out wingers for fullbacks in an effort to shore things up and, perhaps, an indication of how he will approach things pragmatically for his likely short reign. It was enough as the Cherries saw the game out for three vital points.
Man of the match against Birmingham?
The result was the important thing. First half Danjuma was so frustrating, especially when he kills the pace and dances in front of the defender allowing them to regroup.
He took his goal well but every man and his dog knew he was going to cut in as he did. My 16-year-old who plays in the Allied Counties Youth League would have been ripped to shreds by his manager for allowing that. Ultimately, I don’t care, we won. – Join the conversation, click here.