Date: 22nd April 2017 at 9:07pm
Written by: Neil Dawson

Back with a run of winnable fixtures Bournemouth started their mini league end to the season with a stylish and emphatic win over a beleaguered Boro side at the Vitality this afternoon. As in the first fixture at Boro Gaston Ramirez played a pivotal role – this time a less auspicious one as he was sent off for two moments of stupidity which ruined the occasion for an excellent bunch of travelling fans.

After a fitting tribute for the tragic loss of Boro legend Ugo Bournemouth tore into the visitors with a trademark high tempo, full backs pushed up start. Daniels and Pugh had already caused havoc down the left with their interplay before the first goal………and that arrived in 72 seconds! The renowned duo tying Barragan in knots before KING calmly sidefooted in the cross for his 14th of the season.

Boro’s replies were sporadic and from the first Ramirez dived in the box for a straight yellow. It was mainly Bournemouth though as they sought to put a low scoring opposition out of the game. Arter and Gosling were snapping into tackles and when Harry robbed Clayton on the edge of the box the ball broke through to leave AFOBE one on one with Guzan and he calmly slotted into the bottom corner – taking his and King’s combined tally to 20 (not bad in the Premier League).

Boro had a quick chance to get back in the game and Negredo had a golden opportunity and nearly knocked Boruc off his feet with his thunderous drive. At the other end King blazed wide following Pugh’s back-heel, hopefully the scouts arrived in the second muinute and will take note of this proflicacy! Any hope for Boro evaporated though when Ramirez crazily cut down Pugh in a non-threatening position and departed early at the wave of a red.

Boro nearly got a goal when De Roon’s thunderbolt was brilliantly fingertipped past the post by Boruc. Bournemouth were still dominating but over-playing a lot with so much time and space. Gosling who had been very dominant sank to the turf holding his troublesome calf and departed for Lewis Cook to arrive.

HT Bournemouth 2 Boro 0

The second half started slowly with Boro pressing hard in a 3-5-1 and Bournemouth not gambling their spare men at the back forward as so much rode on this match. Our wingers played narrow as well so play was condensed and this helped Boro’s cause. It took a while for a chance and it should have been buried, Afobe stooping to head Fraser’s cross but it was tame and Guzan got a hand to it, Benik should have put his body through it.

Fraser was lively on his return and his powerful drive was met with a brilliant one handed stop by the over-worked Boro stopper. Lewis Cook was having an outstanding match with real control and measured passing. It was fitting that he was the architect of the crucial third goal. Receiving the ball from a Boro clearance he played a visionary first time 30 yard pass straight to PUGH who rewarded it with a trademark cut inside and curling drive to send the crowd wild.

Boro were understandably starting to wobble and when DANIELS was allowed to waltz onto a short free kick, beat one and fire into the bottom corner it looked like it might have been one of those vintage Bournemouth scoring occasions.

It stayed as it was though, although it should have been more with King and Afobe missing a low cross from Pugh with the goal gaping and Mousset’s the most glaring. The lively Frenchman’s cameo deserved a goal, and the crowd were willing it. The ball that fell to him in the six yard box was the perfect opportunity but Lys’s wonderful connection was far too powerful and arrowed it’s way into row N. Anything mis-hit would have seen him open his account.

FT Bournemouth 4 Boro 0

Boruc 7 – Calm and one great save.

Smith 7 – Good gallivanting performance on the quieter right side.
Francis 7 – Captain’s performance watching the runners.
Cook 8 – Kept Negredo quiet and some great blocks.
Daniels 8 – His marauding but watchful best.

Fraser 7 – Good involvement, always a threat and worked hard.
Arter 7 – Some wayward passing but made up in workrate.
Gosling 7 – Normal industrious display.
(Cook 8) – A masterclass in controlled passing and intelligence.
Pugh 9 – All the tricks, cleverness and entertainment we love.

Afobe 7 – Industrious goalscoring performance.
King 7 – Quieter than normal as defence sat deep. Still scored though.

A job very well done. People may say the sending off was pivotal but I’m not sure. We were already 2-0 up and all the happened was Boro then defended far deeper – had they tried to attack I think we would have picked them off by maybe even more.

It was good to see us take a poor team apart, I think the team were fired up for this having taken a media battering for the performance at Spurs. It was a vintage ‘Eddie’ style performance with the ball moved quickly and the flanks over-loaded. It should always be enough to see off the poorer sides and then it is just a question of how we adapt.

Bright spot for me (other than club legend Pugh crowning his 250th) was the performance of Lewis Cook who looked like a younger fitter Jack Wilshere with his spins, tight control and range of passing. There is no worry if he has to finish the season but there is a worry that him and Harry is all that’s left!

Other than that, the forwards worked hard and both scored, the back five kept a clean sheet and it was a very good day all round. Are we safe? I think it is one of those situations where everyone in the country will think so apart from us! It should be… but one win from the next three winnable games will nail it on. A slightly easier sleep for everyone tonight!

Report by Neil Dawson