Season finale leaves Cherries on Cloud Nine?
From the start this day had the air of a party about it. The sun was out, plenty of beer was going down, and various inflatable objects were thrown around the pub`s outside terrace. It was during this jovial time that the team news came through, with an interesting look.
In goal Ryan Allsop started, not Boruc or even Federici (who I think is injured?). But Allsop returned to the ground where we last saw him start in the early Championship days. How much has happened since then.
The usual back four lined up to give Allsop the best protection we could. Our recently problematic central midfield was plugged by the returning Surman and Gosling. Pugh offered balance on the left as ever, Mousset played a lone striker role, but it was the Fraser and Stanislas pair that completed the lineup who interested me most.
So far as I could make out, the Wee Man and Stan were looking to alternate roles, one wide right and one through the middle just behind Mousset. On paper Fraser was central and Stanislas wide but both would pop up in the other role in regular occasion.
As the game started the Cherries immediately took the lead! Mousset in perhaps his most productive moment to date, ran directly at the Leicester defence causing mass panic. The referee could have blown up for a foul on the edge of the box, but he let it go and the ball was moved to Fraser and then back to Mousset who`s shot was rebounded to STANISLAS to tap in.
That the club`s 100th Premier League goal, in two seasons. Not too shabby. And the Cherries` party certainly ratcheted up a notch! Inflatables went everywhere, including a lilo that careered into my head on it`s way over the divide to the home fans, who were not so amused by our celebrations.
Leicester fired a warning shot soon after from a corner that was worked to the back post, where a header from an acute angle went across the face of goal and wide.
Bournemouth went back on the attack as our tempo proved too much for a slightly lethargic Leicester. Cherries fans thought we were scoring a second when Dan Gosling unleashed a swerving effort into the top corner, only for long-time adversary Schmeichel to claw the ball away.
We continued to press well out of possession and pass well in possession. It was Bournemouth who set the tempo for most of the first half, Leicester reduced to counter attacking, which as we know they`re dangerous at.
Mousset had a couple of pot shots, Fraser had some dangerous runs that didn`t quite come to anything, the chemistry between those attacking players not quite there.
One Leicester break away found Mahrez, who looked for all the world to be offside, but luckily Allsop was equal to his effort. The nearside linesman received a volley of abuse from the away end who were (as Al would say) ‘right in line with it`. It was Leicester who finished the first half stronger, which was to continue second half.
Shortly after half time the scores were level. Leicester came out with a much improved tempo and aggression about them. A cross to the far post found Slimani in too much space, he headed back across goal into a gap between goalkeeper and defender where VARDY was ready in a pocket of space to tap in the equaliser.
Leicester continued to take the initiative as the Cherries midfield struggled to stamp any kind of authority on the game. Whereas first half Surman and Gosling looked strong, second half they were passive and second to everything. Perhaps understandable given their fitness. However the attacking midfield 3 didn`t assert themselves or offer much help either. And so our defence was always under pressure and the chances for Leicester flowed.
The ball was in the net just after the hour mark, in a ‘goal` very similar to the first. Ball in towards goal nudged on into no-mans land between goalkeeper and defender, where Vardy waited for a poachers tap in. The near side Linesman may have been getting abuse, this time the far side linesman raising his flag instantly to quell the home supporter`s celebration. Impossible for us to say from the away end, but I read elsewhere that it was probably an incorrect decision.
Bournemouth had the occasional out ball to Pugh, who too often would find himself in space out on the left, but with absolutely no one in support, the Leicester box a sea of blue defenders and no Cherries shirts to cross to.
Howe rang the changes, with Ibe and Afobe coming in for Pugh and Mousset. In truth this did nothing to change things, because the problem wasn`t up front. The problem was in midfield where the not fully fit Gosling and Surman were out-numbered and out-fought. They needed help, Afobe and Ibe with the best will in the world aren`t the players to do that. If anything, removing Pugh`s industry for Ibe`s?I`m not quite sure what?made the midfield situation even worse.
Allsop made another decent stop from Vardy, a Slimani effort went wide, and a Mahrez header was palmed away by our backup keeper in a string of chances for the hosts.
Bournemouth for our part were reduced to the occasional break away, with nothing clear cut coming from any of them. One of them was stopped by a cynical foul just outside the area, and that was punished only by a yellow card and a tepid, wasted free kick.
In an effort to address the midfield issue, youth team gradate Matt Worthington came on in place of Fraser. This added an extra body to the middle, something we cried out for. Worthington got on the ball and looked happy enough with it.
Late on Leicester missed an absolute sitter as Slimani headed wide with the goal at his mercy. We looked uncomfortable with balls into the box for much of the game, perhaps the change in the goalkeeper variable unsettled things.
Ibe had half a chance to win the game at the death, as a ball was played over the top to him in the left channel. A decent first touch would have taken him through on goal?but his touch was unfortunately abysmal and saw the ball roll tamely through to the thankful Schmeichel. Some credit to Ibe finding himself in that position and making that run I guess..? But I can’t help thinking Josh King buries that.
All in all we got the point we needed to secure a top half finish. The away end was the happier section of the ground. The home fans left knowing they`d missed a whole host of chances to win the game, and had finished below their visitors and in the bottom half of the table.
Eddie and the players came across the pitch to a standing ovation and rousing send off by the traveling support. Two and half thousand Cherries fans left the King Power with smiles on their faces, looking forward to the summer and another crack at Premier League football come August.
Report by northstandmark
Allsop 6.5. Made a good save to tip a goal-bound effort over the bar.
Daniels 7.5 One sublime tackle in our box first half.
Cook 8 Usual, excellent performance
Francis 7.5 Far better game than last time out. Couple of great tackles and a couple of threatening forward runs 2nd-half
Smith (A) 7 Pretty good game, attacking runs were good first half.
Stanislas 7 (for the goal) he had a game I suspect most Burnley fans would recognise
Gosling 8.5 MoM performance
Surman 6.5 Confident and assured most of the time, made some duff forward passes
Pugh 6.5 Didn’t try anywhere near his usual amount of twists and turns (maybe ‘cos he had 2 x players on him when he got the ball)
Fraser 7. Lots of good runs and got hacked down lots leading to free kicks. Got closed down quickly.
Mousset 6.5 Made our goal when he took off at their defence like a demented greyhound after a rabbit. Lost the ball too often and has no defensive instinct but still is threatening when he has the ball.
Ibe 5.5 Made a great run into the box, where his ‘heavy’ first touch let him down.
Afobe 6 Made us look more like scoring in the 2nd half
Worthington 6.5 Looked composed on the ball.
Season finale leaves Cherries on Cloud Nine
Season finale leaves Cherries on Cloud Nine?