Date: 31st January 2015 at 9:05am
Written by: Neil Dawson

Bournemouth returned to winning ways and got their first crucial six pointer in the bag tonight. It was a consummately professional display against a Watford side reduced to ten men after an incredible 30 seconds.

Eddie made one change from the team that lost narrowly at Leeds, Yann Kermorgant stepping back in…. ironically to counter the aerial threat of the early bath victim Angella at corners.

With the TV cameras looking on, the dramatic early talking point was the sending off of Angella for a professional foul after Kermorgant put through Wilson. Ref Probert didn’t hesitate to produce the red but TV replays suggested that there was a covering defender who could easily have stopped the potential goal. From the resulting free kick, Kermorgant’s shot was deflected over and then Pugh headed the corner narrowly over.

It was an electric start but it didn’t materialise into much early on. Watford moved to three at the back and enjoyed good possession. It was easy to see why they have gone goal crazy lately with Deeney, Ighalo and Anya so quick and tricky. Bournemouth didn’t help matters by presenting them the ball in bizarre unnecessary circumstances on a number of occasions and Artur Boruc’s kicking was shocking. Thankfully the Hornet’s shooting boots were not on and most shots flashed wide or high as Bournemouth huffed and puffed.

At the other end there were moments of normality but Kermit didn’t connect properly with Francis’s peach of a cross. He was presented with a better opportunity when Daniels crossed from the left but his instant control and snap-volley thundered back off the cross bar with Gomes stranded.

Watford were still dangerous on the break but they were becoming increasingly less frequent as they tired. Munari toe-poked agonisingly wide in the last of these. The half finished though with Bournemouth moving up through the gears and stretching Watford on both flanks. All the wide players were outstanding all game with the visitors unable to double up on them shorn of a man. It finally resulted in a goal when Wilson cleverly robbed Cathcartt with the ball in the box and drawing the trip. The penalty was taken by KERMORGANT who predictably fired low and straight down the middle having hit the angle of post and bar with his last attempt.

HT Bournemouth 1 Watford 0

The second half really belonged to the hosts. With the confidence and cushion of a lead they opened up with expansive football and some great interchanges. Ritchie drove just past the post and Pugh, in one of the games of his life, beat half the Watford side before electing to pass rather than shoot. He did create the second goal though by masterfully beating Anya with a supreme turn and crossing high to the centre. Kermorgant looked like he was about to attack the ball but it dipped and he cleverly adjusted to flick the ball into the path of RITCHIE. The little winger had steamed his way to the corner of the six yard box and he drove low under Gomes with his lesser used right foot.

This kicked off a majestic period of football, but not for the first time Bournemouth found Gomes in remarkable form. If his save from Pugh’s curling drive was superb we hadn’t seen anything yet. When Kermit bulleted a header from Ritchies cross with Gomes heading in the other direction the crowd rose to celebrate. The Brazilian had other ideas though and jack-knifed in mid air to palm it out of the corner. A save that was picked out as incredible by Howe after the match.

That was it for the action other than some routine blocks to deny Francis and Ritchie from long range. Bournemouth played out the game with mostly ease and ran down the clock to build a crucial seven point lead over Watford.

FT Bournemouth 2 Watford 0

Boruc 6 – Handled ok but foot like a 50p piece.

Francis 8 – Overlapping full back display of majesty.
Cook 8 – Some stunning tackles and blocks and stout throughout.
Elphick 7 – Good in air, little shaky with distribution. Sound.
Daniels 8 – Up and down to great effect mirroring Francis.

Ritchie 8 – Superb dovetailing with Francis, vision and goal.
Arter 7 – Hard working display with occasional excellence.
Surman 7 – Smooth and kept ball moving well as usual.
Pugh 9 – Reached a career peak tonight for me. Outstanding trickery

Kermorgant – 7 Quiet on ball but still scored, hit bar and set one up.
Wilson – 7 Ran socks off and constant handful
A tough task tonight dealt with very professionally. We shouldn’t kid ourselves that this would have been a very different game against 11 men. Angella is arguably Watfords best defender, and as we know, biggest threat to us at corners. Not only did we lose that threat, we also forced them to three at the back which meant we always had two on one out wide. We used this to great effect to stretch them apart.

The team grew in confidence after a shaky start. Some of the misplaced passes had to be seen to be believed and understanding why they happen will help the teams quest and the crowds nerves! After that though it was business as normal and at times towards the end of the first half and middle of the second we hit the peaks of pre-Christmas. Pugh was just genius tonight, perhaps sending a message to Eddie Howe that Demari Gray is the last thing he needs?

The debate of Kermit v Brett rages on. The Frenchman was actually quiet tonight but managed to score, hit the bar, play the ball through for the sending off and for Ritchies goal. If that’s quiet then we will take it over noisy anyday!

So, we got lucky tonight (remember that the next time we believe there is an international refereeing conspiracy against us), we then capitalised on it and hopefully gained confidence and a return to longer term winning ways. The tension was still there whenever the lively Watford forwards had the ball. It will be nothing to the tension we will get coming up between now and May. Buckle in – its going to be fun but not easy viewing I would wager. Over to Derby, Boro and Brentford tomorrow. We can watch them and be a bit more relaxed after tonight.

Report by Neil Dawson

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