AFC Bournemouth is a side that has been built on a strong team spirit.
From the days of -17 points and fighting for their very survival from non-league football, to promotion from the fourth tier with a transfer embargo often meaning a matchday squad of just 14 players and that included a twice-retired assistant manager Jason Tindall and schoolboy Jayden Stockley.
Then there was the squad that turned around relegation form under Paul Groves to promotion winners from League One in just six months and then two short years later, promotion as champions of the Championship to the Premier League.
Now in their fourth season in the top flight of English football, AFC Bournemouth are no longer being seen as “plucky little Bournemouth” and punching above their weight. They are now seen rightly or wrongly, as an established Premier League side and Howe believes that it is once again down to the team spirit of the squad.
In front of the Sky Sports camera’s AFC Bournemouth hosted Crystal Palace on the Monday Night Football. It was a weak television selection weekend from Sky Sports, probably due to their Ryder Cup coverage. There had been no Premier League game on Sky Sports on Saturday, Super Sunday wasn’t exactly “Super” with just one game of Cardiff City versus Burnley and then the weekend was rounded off with the Cherries against Crystal Palace.
Arguably not games that would get many neutrals pulses racing, but for those that did they would have been treated to an opening 15-20 minutes of scintillating football from AFC Bournemouth.
David Brooks had opened the scoring, his first goal since his £10million move over the summer, but that was only part of the story.
The quick, fast-paced passing, the pressing, the running, the Cherries were excellent and should have turned that dominance into more goals before halftime came.
Then Crystal Palace got on top during the second half and scored an equaliser.
Callum Wilson and Dan Gosling both had chances to wrap up the points, but the winner would eventually come via the penalty spot.
Jefferson Lerma was elbowed in the box and Mike Dean, who doesn’t really need an excuse to take centre stage and give a dramatic final few minutes penalty pointed to the spot. Junior Stanislas, however, stole the spotlight back from Mike Dean with a cheeky dink down the middle to take all three points.
AFC Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe told afcb.co.uk…
“Our first half performance was really good, as was our end to the game, and we had to defend well at times. In my opinion, you could possibly say we shaded it and deserved to win. Roy Hodgson would probably say differently.
“They did well for spells of the second half and put us under pressure, but from my perspective I was very pleased with the mentality of the group, conceding the equaliser and then finding the strength to go again in search of the winner.
“We’re confident that we have a goal in us at any time, and match winners in the team who can turn a tight game in our favour. The most important thing for me is that the spirit and togetherness in the group is as strong as it’s ever been which is a huge quality to have.”
Cracking match (again), first, 20 mins best I have seen us play, slick passing moves, great movement, Fraser, Brooks, Smith outstanding, buzzing around each other. A lovely first goal could have had more. And then the second half…Palace bossed the first 20-25 mins, Eddie brought on Gosling, bolstered the midfield, we looked better after that and finished the stronger team. Callum and Gosling great chances to win it before the pen. Thought Lerma was excellent. Fraser his usual busy self. Franno excellent. Ake solid. What a team Eddie is building. Another home performance, we do look very strong at home.
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