Written by Neil Dawson
It takes a lot to take a penalty with your first real touch…and it’s a sign of Stan’s growing stature at the club that you’d have put your house in him burying the late penalty that saw off Palace in an epic win at Dean Court.
Eddie made two changes from the Burnley debacle…Rico made way for Franno (Smith moving to the left) and Lewis Cook finally arrived in the middle with Surman stepping down. We miss night time league games and the passion and the slick passing was reminiscent of many nights in the championship as Palace were swept aside time and time again.
The front four were slick in their interchanging, Cook and Lerma imperious in winning the ball back high and moving it quickly. It was glorious to watch. The home side was in front in five minutes…Smith advanced left and his low cross was cleverly held by Wilson and cushioned into the path of BROOKS who bent a left foot beauty in off the crossbar from the edge of the box. It was his first premier league and club goal…and no better way to get it.
This just heralded more and more attacking play….Nathan Ake flashed a header just wide from one of the few times the ball was crossed in but too often the slick play didn’t see a ball in the box at the end of it.
Palace were feeding off scraps but Begovic got down well to Meyers drive. Lewis Cook was running the show though with a great first half…closely followed by Brooks and Fraser who caused havoc every time they got on the ball. Steve Cook would have doubled the lead had his bullet header from a set piece been anywhere other than straight at Hennessy.
The lack of creation in the final third saw the half-hour vision of beauty in the other two-thirds pass without the killer moment and Palace started to seize on the understandable drop in Bournemouth’s energy levels. Ake and Cook held firm though with some great blocks and Francis was confounding his critics by smothering Zaha.
HT Bournemouth 1 Palace 0
The second half began as the first half finished with Palace camping deep in Bournemouth’s half and looking exceptionally dangerous. The slick passing of the home side had disappeared. Too many rushed clearances and botched passes. Eddie was pacing furiously and trying to calm his team down and get them more advanced but each time an opportunity came to break it got wasted.
Two forwards are great when you have the ball but without it, we were crying out for someone to drop deep and circulate it but with Fraser and Brooks tied up on the wing and King and Wilson looking for channel balls that weren’t forthcoming it was crying out for a tactical change.
Eddie had spotted it and was warming up Gosling before the goal that forced his hand. Zaha received a fortuitous rebound and fed VAN AAHOLT and the left back cut in and blasted home from what turned out to be an offside position.
Gosling arrived for Brooks and immediately Bournemouth started to wrestle back possession. King moved wide and the whole shape felt better. Cook and Lerma were able to sit deeper and protect. Lerma, in particular, came of age with this performance, winning the ball time and time again particularly in the air.
Two key moments arrived that should have heralded a leading goal but when both came and went the game looked destined for a draw. First Fraser broke brilliantly and took out the entire back four…he could have shot but I selfishly squared to Wilson for a tap in…the forward hit Hennessey’s leg with the whole goal gaping for a blast. The player’s hands went on their heads in disbelief. Minutes later the hands went back on their heads but this time for a different reason. Wilson, desperate to atone, skipped down the flank and his cross was met by a bullet diving header from Gosling….it looked in all the way but Hennessy pulled off a worldy to keep it out at full stretch.
It looked like it would fizzle out. Lerma had other ideas though…booked for an off the ball skirmish with Kouyate our pumped-up Columbian then set about Sakho at a set piece. As the ball swung into the air Sakho saw his chance for revenge and smashed an elbow into Jefferson who collapsed. Mike Dean saw his chance and pointed at the spot. STANISLAS, newly arrived for King slotted it straight down the middle and the game bar a couple of not too nervy minutes was won.
FT Bournemouth 2 Palace 1
Begovic 7 – Solid enough and no chance with the goal.
Francis 7- Excellent marshalling of Zaha in real captain like bravery.
Cook 7- Strong in the air and on the ground…concentration and power.
Ake 7 – usual Rolls Royce defending and link up play.
Smith 7 – great game on ‘wrong foot’ didn’t attack much but slick interchanges.
Fraser 7 – Dangerman at it again with bustling runs and clever passing.
Cook 7. – awesome first half…quieter in second. A range of passing and vision fantastic.
Lerma 8 – what a battling performance and intelligent passing. Coming of age night.
Brooks 7 – brilliant tricky goalscoring game first half…tired again second.
Wilson 6 – battled hard but lacked quality at times…needs to finish his run of the mill ones.
King 6 – playing in bursts with great feet but goes quiet a lot too.
(Gosling 7..knew his position well and turned game…Stan 7…calmness personified)
Mom…for never giving up the fight…winning the penalty with wind up and general all-round cult hero potential status…Lerma tonight for me.
A great nights football. The first half was Bournemouth at their best for quick moving possession. Eddie will be looking at why fewer chances came from it than should. Wilson and King were guilty a lot of over playing when a quick cross would have caused havoc. He will have been delighted with his midfield duo of Lerma and Cook who complemented each other’s strengths and weaknesses well and should be the future of this club.
Eddie knew the tactics should be changed and did this a fraction late. The extra man in midfield to bridge the gap between the two flat lines was necessary and worked a treat. It will be interesting to see if Eddie starts with it at a combative Watford. The issue is it sacrifices King to the wing…it would be great to see him up front on his own where he was so lively that one season. Wilson to me still needs too many chances and his miss today could have been costly
That said…had we scored earlier we would have had a more nerve-wracking ending so perhaps in a way it all turned out well. Special mention to Francis. The whole queue around me on the way in was berating Eddie for starting him against Zaha. It didn’t phase our skipper at all who had his best ever game against the irritating self-obsessed Zaha.
Great to see the team physically kicking off as well. We have more strength this year.
So thirteen points on the board…the scum gap growing…7th in the table…a virtual European playoff on Saturday with Watford… Mike Dean having a great game….there’s a lot to be happy about you know….soak it all in.