Written by Neil Dawson
A small fire delayed the game but there were more flames on the pitch than in whatever small device headed towards the Dixons in the sky. Seldom have we seen a first half like it with both sets of fans running through every emotion known to human-kind…..twice.
It wasn’t a game for the managers with a New Years hangover approach to marking in both sides but it made for cracking fun in the stands. Two-nil down and three two down Bournemouth kept at it and really should have nicked the points, once again a Watford keeper saving his best for us.
The arriving fans had an extra fifteen minutes to ponder a traumatic incident…yes the announcement that Stanislas would be trying his hand at right back. With the surprise return of Gosling in midfield and Fraser back up front. Big Jeff was also back in midfield. Rico, Surman and Ibe stepping down.
The game started well for Bournemouth, some great interplay seeing Brooks bend one on to the top of the net. Stan was overlapping well and it was settling into a nice game for the home team before disaster struck. King was at fault completely leaving his man to overlap and cross to the back stick where DEENEY had peeled away to head home unmarked. A soft goal again to concede.
Bournemouth looked stunned, once again a team having scored with their first shot on target. Worse was to come…the goal provoked a break down in passing accuracy and Gosling was the worst affected. His dreadful backpass fell short and Delofeu broke to be denied by Cook only for the ball to fall to DEENEY to calmly fire a second.
A pivotal moment for the team this in the season. Slump to morale sapping defeát or roll sleeves up and put it right were the two options. Fraser should have done better from Stans cross when he fired at Foster from six yards. The home side were whipping up some great play though but were being fouled at regular opportunities by a feisty Watford side.
This did give a series of free kicks though and boy did we look dangerous for once this season with set pieces. Fraser had been poleaxed but picked himself up to float a great ball for Cook to head back across goal. Gosling nearly atoned for his error with a bullet header goalwards but Foster’s reaction save was imperious. AKE was on hand though to bury the rebound.
Game on, and the equaliser was soon here. Fraser was the architect again with a free kick that WILSON rose to flick a fantastic header over Foster for his ninth of the season.
The Bournemouth fans were loving it and in great voice but the Champione song was barely at second verse when Watford bloody scored again. Once again it was a goal that defied belief when a routine high ball wasn’t dealt with and Deeney knocked down for SEMA to fire a low drive into Begovic near post.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get crazier Stans break and cross entertained more dummies than a Selfridges window before FRASER fired home at the far post. King then headed inches wide again from Stan in a move that would have brought the roof off.
HT Bournemouth 3 Watford 3
The second half was always likely to be anticlimactic and so it proved. Both defences had clearly had a half time talking to and were much more attentive. Bournemouth were also much more in the ascendancy, the excellent Brooks and Lerma (shooting aside) were prompting continually and King was giving us a long overdue strong game. The rhythm was back and it was vintage Bournemouth night game with the crowd part of every kick.
We really should have won it, Foster incredibly denying Wilson with a point-blank save from another Fraser set piece and Ake narrowly heading wide in a frenzy of attacks.
King was the man who should have won it, twice delaying shots in tight spots to allow Foster to make great blocks. At the other end, Watford had little pressure as they dropped deep but an awesome tackle by Cook denied Capoue and Begovic was off his line well twice.
Ibe and Mousset arrived but this seemed to suck the pressure rather than deliver more. Lys in particular needs to learn not to foul as much when his team are in possession. I think a neutral would have thought a goal would have been harsh on either side.
Ft Bournemouth 3 Watford 3
Begovic 6 – beaten at the near post but solid.
Stanislas 7 – enterprising forward play but still learning the defensive side
Cook 7 – very strong tackling and held his own v Deeney
Ake 7- a good goal and quick across the ground.
Daniels 7- moving display and relationship with crowd. More solid.
Fraser 8 – ever lively with assists and goals again.
Lerma 7 – some great driving play and passing. Shooting woeful.
Gosling 6 – awful back pass, poor 1st touch, battled well.
Brooks 8 – ever involved, clever and big work rate.
Wilson 6 – poor hold up play but took goal well.
King 7 – buzzed much better than of late.
Mom- I will give it to Brooks ahead of Fraser (just). I used to think Brooks delivered magic moments but not enough normal moments. Today to me was a real sign he can do both at high energy for 90 minutes. Simple balls, hard running, tackling and brilliance all combined, the top players do this week in and out and he can become one I’m sure.
Any worried Bournemouth fans should be happy tonight. My worry in the recent games was not the dodgy defence (we know we have one) it was the lack of the attacking verve and movement that characterised the start of the season. The best form of defence when you don’t have a great one and all that…being the attack.
Tonight we saw it back at its best. Playing into feet in the box, carving things up with quick interplay and lung-busting overlaps. Individual errors stopped us winning this game but they can’t persist (he says for the eight-match Report in a row!).
Stan was pivotal tonight. I’ve given him flack recently so important to balance. Eddie clearly craves playing 4-4-2, particularly when his side are struggling…it’s what our DNA demands. He can’t risk Ibe there, he rightly doesn’t want to lose Fraser to the deep so it was a brave call to bring Stan there. To his credit Junior, without truly grasping the positional aspect, gave Eddie that option and attacked brilliantly as we knew he would with extra time. With this shape back we had the double ups to hurt teams outside that is Eddies constant effective Plan A.
How you work on individual errors I don’t know. It is probably a confidence thing and hopefully today’s performance plus a rest for a few from this manic spell next week will help. Surely we will also see a right back arrive and potentially another forward if Defoe moves on.
Welcome to 2019. Let’s hope it continues in this vein of entertainment.
Thanks, Neil, excellent report and spot on re Stan. He worried me first half but grew into the game, that cross for Fraser’s goal was first class and the second half he looked very dangerous. At 0-2 you’re right, many teams would have folded. I feared we were looking at a potential 0-4, such was Deeney’s dominance. Eddie had his subs warm up at that point and I thought yep, please do something Eddie, bring someone (anyone!) on to steady the ship but do you know what, he did nothing, he trusted his players and they came good. The second half pleased me more than anything. We didn’t score (Foster was outstanding) but my we looked back to our best. Can’t wait for the rest of the season! – Join the conversation, click here.