Date: 5th February 2017 at 8:19am
Written by: Uttoxeter cherry

As expected, after the defeat on Tuesday and the generally poor form we have shown in the last month, there were a few changes to today’s line up. The team line up didn’t fill me with confidence however as it seemed Eddie was reverting to the same 3 at the back that saw us get tonked at Chelsea on Boxing Day. By all accounts, it didn’t work then, but Eddie, whether forced through injury or to flood the midfield against an attacking team, decided to give it another go. So Francis lined up with Cook and Mings, a midfield of Gosling, Arter and Surman with Pugh and Fraser wide and Wilshere behind King. I was pleased King was given a start up front and glad to see Pugh again, who scored here last season. Another familiar face was Shaun Macdonald sitting with Cherries fans.

All was well for the first 25 seconds until some smart Everton passing, some static Cherries defending and some brilliance from Lukaku led to The home side taking the lead. I am sure Eddie was saying to keep it tight and keep possession but this plan was already out the window. Was there a plan B? Not before half time at least…

Bournemouth did attempt to keep calm and pass the ball, but we simply weren’t good enough and adopted the usual sideways passing routine with the final forward ball usually finding a blue shirt. We again took far too long to get a shot off whenever near their goal. King was proving a good out ball but mainly down the right wing, using his pace and strength to outmuscle the left back. So when he did cross, there was very little to aim at. He needs team mates doing this work for him.

Every time Everton attacked, they looked dangerous and any team that can’t handle an in form Lukaku is going to struggle. Our defence don’t seem capable of stopping a car at a pedestrian crossing at the moment. And so it was that from the by line the big forward, with Mings and another defender parting like the Red Sea allowed him to waltz through and cross. An initial shot seemed to be blocked but a ricochet sent the ball into the net with Boruc joining the comedy party by doing a synchronised swimming routine on his line. More of this to come.

Cherries offered very little going forward by did have spells of keep ball. I know I am being negative, but there was so little to be positive about. Mings in particular seemed at a loss to know where he was playing in the back 3 system. At times he seemed to be playing left wing and quick balls forward completely cut him out of the game. At least he didn’t commit the cardinal sin which Francis did shortly before half time. Under no pressure in the right back position he passed across our goal, presumably expecting to find himself at centre back, but instead found Lukaku who lifted above Boruc. Was Boruc slow to see this happening?

I have rarely felt so depressed at half time of a match. We were simply dreadful with no shape, ideas or, most worryingly no passion or desire.
I saw better passing and possession from the kids on the pitch during the interval….

I hoped Eddie was giving them a right rollicking.

HT 3-0

Changes were made with Francis and Gosling hooked off for Brad Smith and Ibe and we reverted to a sort of 4 4 1 1. I say sort of, because it seemed to be Fraser at right back and a lot of the time only 2 defenders in sight. This was partly due to the home side sitting back and allowing cherries to dominate for the first 30 mins of this half. We looked so much better balanced and belief seemed to return. Our fans who were magnificent throughout, got right behind the lads and we soon had a lifeline with a super lobbed assist from Wilshere poked under the keeper by King. There were excellent ironic chants of ‘we’ve scored a goal’ and ‘we’ve got the ball’ all through this phase of play.

The home fans were starting to turn on their team as we grew in confidence and looked the better team. I didn’t get a great view, but during this pressure, a cross from the right was turned in by King again, proving his worth up front. Game on!

Had we scored the next goal, I really believe we could have won this game, even after a shocking first half. First, Pugh twisting and turning, cut in from the left and let fly but agonisingly wide. Then Arter, given a second chance to shoot curled a delicious shot into the top right corner that Robles did superbly to palm out for a corner.

When we didn’t take these chances, it seemed inevitable that Everton would score if they ever decided to leave their half again. Against the run of play, our defensive frailties were exposed when after a long through ball, Mings tackled like a ballet dancer, Boruc ran out of his goal then laid down before the ball was struck in for number 4.

My memory is a bit hazy for number 5. Let’s just say we defended like a poo lawyer and a cross was thumped into the net.
We still had time to get back to within 2 goals when Arter bustled through into the box, played a one two with the post before rolling into the net.

It was soon 6-3 though when Boruc decided to run from his goal with a cherries defender bearing down on the forward running Everton attacker. He missed the ball, missed the defenders legs and then went missing at the final whistle when all his other team mates came over to clap us. I didn’t like the scorers pre goal celebration either.

Boruc 4 poor afternoon
Francis 3 terrible defending
Mings 4 lost on the pitch
Cook 6 at least shows he cares
Pugh 5 fairly anonymous twisty turny stuff
Arter 6 early booking for dissent. worked hard. Good shot.
Gosling 4 anonymous
Surman 5 slows everything down
Wilshire 6 good assist.
Fraser 6 lasted whole match and dangerous runs
King 7 took goals well and runs forward
Ibe 6 at least he tries to make things happen with direct runs
B Smith 5 did OK in proper formation
Afobe not on pitch long enough

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