Date: 2nd April 2017 at 7:06pm
Written by: London Cherry

The Cherries entered the game on the back of 7 points from the last 9 whilst the Saints had hardly kicked a ball in anger since the League Cup defeat to Utd. Eddie kept faith with the same 11 from the previous successful run with Fraser and Pugh providing support from out wide for the twin strike force of King and Afobe.
The Saints started on the front foot without troubling Boruc’s goal too much. Steve Cook was marshalling the defence well ably supported by Simon Francis. Suddenly a scramble in the Saints box provided an opportunity for Andrew Surman but his prodded effort was cleared off the line. Then came 10 mins of concerted Saints pressure. Artur Boruc made one outstanding save and I for one was pleased when the whistle brought an end to the first half.
An earlier Surman knock had taken its toll and the former Saints player was replaced by Harry Arter two minutes into the second half. This brought a much needed zip to our game and soon Afobe had a gilt edge chance to open the scoring. Along with Josh King the Cherries had a 2 on 1 opportunity but sadly Benik lacked the composure needed at the crucial time and passed the ball wide of Fraser Forster’s post. The game then opened up and the Cherries were fortunate not to fall behind after another decent Artur Boruc safe. The ball fizzed wide of his right hand post and this signalled the start of a 15 minute Cherries purple patch. First Adam Smith let fly from 20 yards but saw his deflected shot hit the post. From the rebound Marc Pugh took too long to get his shot away. Pugh then had another half chance but dithered on the ball. Some good interplay from Josh King saw Afobe fire over when others were placed better in the box. Then our chance; a Ryan Fraser burst into the box was halted by the Saints defence, the ref pointed to the spot and every Cherries fan held their breath….sadly Harry’s penalty looked more like a rugby conversion as the ground moved from under his standing foot. David Beckham and Harry Kane misses spring to mind. The final 10 minutes were largely uneventful apart from a Adam Smith free kick which he should have done better with. The final whistle went with the score somehow at 0-0.

Boruc – 8 – The big man is in a rich vein of form at the moment
Smith – 6 – Not as effective going forward as in previous games
Daniels -7- See Smith but looks steadier at the back
Cook – 9 – Turning into a top premiership player for us
Francis – 7 – Steady game and a clean sheet
Surman – 6 – Only half a game for Surman, I’ve always been a fan but is he playing on given time as we were clearly better second half.
Gosling – 7 – Great engine from Dan but still concerned at his lack of pace at times.
Fraser – 8 – At times drifted out of the game but when on it he was at his electric best
Pugh – 6 – You’ve got to love what Pughie brings to our team and we are definitely better defensively with him in it. Would Stan or Ibe being more pace though?
King – 7 – Slightly surprised to see the big man subbed but then again he had played for Norway midweek. Looked good on the ball.
Afobe – 6 – I feel sorry for Benik as he did a lot of good things in this match but he’ll be remembered for that miss

Arter – 7 – Despite the penalty miss I thought Harry had a good game
Wilshere – 7 – Definitely brought something to the team when he came on but is it me or is he looking a bit down at being out of the team?
Final Thought
For me if you had given us a point at the start of the day I’d had taken it, therefore coming away disappointed to have not won all 3 points States how far we’ve come. Cup half empty fans will point to Benik and Harry’s misses. Cup half full will state we’re another point closer to safety with a centre half, in my opinion, close to England recognition. I’ve always been of the latter thoughts. Bring on the rest of the season!!

Report by London Cherry

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