Date: 15th December 2012 at 9:03pm
Written by: Neil Dawson

The dreaded Manager of the Month award…….. game number 13 in an unbeaten sequence……..bogey team Colchester Utd rolling into town……. the fatalistic ones amongst us were all settled in waiting for Eddies first defeat. It’s testament to this team’s spirit though that although there won’t be a queue at the club shop to buy the match DVD another three points were ground out in sweat and stubborn resistance.

Eddie kept the same team that won at Scunny meaning there was no return for Arter or Mcquoid with O’Kane and Fogden keeping the places earned in the unbeaten away run. Colchester were on the back of a dreadful run and played Ibhere alone up front and packed the midfield.

The start of the game was not great, recent rainfall meant the ball zipped off the pitch and our balls into corners for the forwards often went for goal-kicks. A couple of early chances came and went when Pitman thumped a drive off Cousin’s chest and then Elphick headed over a great chance from the resulting corner.

Bournemouth were playing in fits and starts – a lot of possession but more deliberate than in recent weeks – and the full backs were overlapping less than normal. I guess this was a deliberate move to hold against Colchester’s five man midfield but it meant the game was more cramped than normal and on the wet pitch the short passing game was risky as the ball was too often delivered at speed.

There were patches of good play though – notably when Fogden headed on to the roof of the net at the far post following Pugh’s great run and when Cook somehow let the ball hit his shoulder five yards out when a header would have buried it.

At the other end our defence was working hard and dealing comfortably with the loan threat and James was largely redundant.

The first half ended with a real burst from Bournemouth that brought the goal and some great saves out of Cousins – ultimately it was the burst that won the match. First Daniels 30 yard exocet free kick was brilliantly kept out by Cousin’s at full stretch but the resultant corner broke Colchester’s resistance.

Pitman swung the ball in but it was headed to the edge of the area where O’Kane brilliantly paused and calmly played in GRABBAN. The in- form hitman took one touch and then smacked the ball across Cousin’s and into the bottom corner for his ninth of the season.

HT Bournemouth 1 Colchester 0

Anyone enjoying their half time cuppa thinking that we would hit our normal second half form and demolish Colchester were in for a shock. U’s boss Dunne changed formation at half time bringing on veteran striker Clinton Morrison and going two up top. This meant the ball stuck more down the other end and we were clearing it from deeper. When we did Colchester showed more desire in reaching the second ball and we didn’t have our normal run of showmanship facing the North Stand.

Thompson hit Cook on the line with a free header from a corner as the visitors stepped up the pressure and former target Wadsworth forced James into a good save from a rising drive. We were showing less and less fluidity in attack and there was too much unecessary intricacy and runs offside that meant the half never really got going.

On rare forays into Colchester’s box Pitman thumped a trademark curling drive that literally must have missed the post by millimetres and at the other end White did similar with James at full strength. Cousin’s also blocked another Pitman drive with his feet as the stalemate briefly lifted.

The game was getting progressively more edgy with Howe waving his troops forwards but too often the second ball was being won by the visitors and we struggled to impose ourselves. Colchester had one last great chance when James saved brilliantly at full stretch from Wadsworths placed drive.

Bournemouth then expertly played out the final six minutes in the corner flag to seal the victory and move within six points of the top.

FT Bournemouth 1 Colchester 0

James 7 – Some great saves and good distribution

Francis 6 – Defended solidly but much less attacking than normal.
Cook 7 – Solid offering in the air and on ground again.
Elphick 7 – Good use of the ball and intelligent defending.
Daniels 6 – See Francis comments.

Fogden 6 – Ran his socks off – not always quality in end ball.
O’Kane 8 – Very assured movement on ball and vital tackling.
Mcdonald 7 – Looking prominent until injury
(Arter 6) – Not totally imposing but good retention of ball.
Pugh 6 – Good dribbling but poorer end ball choice than of late.

Grabban 7 – Dangerous channel running and clinical finish.
Pitman 6 – Some good link play and couple of great shots saved.
The sign of a good team is it wins when all is not perfect. By all accounts our win at Scunny and certainly today we demonstrated that. Gone was the fluid overlapping football and central midfield dominance that charactised the last five home games and Eddie will be pondering how to get it back. In it’s place though the defence looks much stronger and Fogden may lack Mcquoids directness but adds more in terms of covering and irritating the opposition. The big blow was the loss of Macdonald and I’m not sure Arter and O’Kane together will be the answer. They are both very similar in style and I think we will be exposed without a tall, get your leg in, scrapper. Certainly after the ginger Zidane departed we conceded far more second balls.

The other main difference was the amount of balls flying in from the flank. If there were 40 a game recently and 5 a game under Groves today we hit the middle ground!! It rarely gave Pitman the chance to latch on without his back to goal and it made us look less of a threat. The chief reason for this was the full-backs not getting out as much. We will never know if this was deliberate or not but in a win – does it matter?!

So – a very resolute victory and clean sheet which will please Howe and a few bits to ponder on getting the fluidity and chance creation back. It will get harder as team’s have us watched as a threat not as also rans. They will change their style to stop us and we will according have to up our game. Eddie knows this more than anyone and you couldn’t want for a better guy to find the solution.

Central midfield worries me – we have a lot of players of a certain type and only really Partington and Macdonald who can sit with energy. The former was unconvincing under Groves but may well do better as the others have with Eddie. I think if we play Arter and O’Kane together we could get muscled out. The length of the injury may well see the attempted return of Bartley.

So, not the greatest entertainment, but another fantastic result and the excitement mounts for the two big Christmas home game.

Report by Neil Dawson


4 Replies to “That dreaded Manager of the Month award…”

  • Thank you Neil I was there and like you amazed at how awful the game was! We got a result that we perhaps deserved.
    Colchester are desperate and looking for points so we clearly under par beat a team that was trying it’s best So a good result? Well yes Merry Christmas.
    I hope Santa can get id of some of our unwanted prezzies in January and clearly if Uncle Harry can wave some magic dust over Dean Court and offer us some QPR talent for a couple of months we might not need the play offs and be playing Southampton next season!

  • I know it’s off topic but with our CB problems and Cookie having a court case next month ( i think) we are going to have even more problems. I’ve heard about that Jason Pearce isn’t happy up north and wants to move back?? any thoughts on this?

  • I heard that about Pearce too but it’s most likely that he would move to another championship club like Ipswich who showed intrest last window. I think we’ll be fine assuming Zubars injurey aint too bad & Francis being able fill in aswell. Just back up full backs & half decent right mid.

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