Date: 31st December 2020 at 9:04am
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Written by kirsikka

As the year drew to a close, the Cherries travelled to Brentford for a top of the table clash which would see one club or the other take away second spot from Swansea. Who would see 2021 in sitting in a promotion slot?

After an enforced extended break, Tindall kept faith the side that drew with Luton last time out, although Josh King did make it onto the bench after his recent injury issues.

AFCB started like a team that had been chomping at the bit suddenly given their head. A mere 45 seconds into proceedings saw Lerma break down the middle and play the ball through to a diagonal Solanke run on the edge of the box in behind the covering defender. He slotted a shot at goal, rather than power it, and the keeper manages to get enough on it to take even more pace off it. On a normal pitch, it would likely still have crossed the line but on this Christmas pudding, it trundled towards the goal in slow motion allowing a Brentford defender to get back and make a still excellent clearance.

On eight minutes the impressive-looking Billing sent a gorgeous inside cut pass to Solanke on the edge of the Brentford area but he couldn’t quite bring it under his control. However, as the ball bounced loose Billing drove forward, picked it up and played a smart 1-2 with Dom bursting into the area with an acute sight at goal. He chose the unselfish option and laid it across the box for a tap-in but another good defensive intervention prevented the finishing touch.

The first ten minutes was almost all Bournemouth as sharp movement and even sharper passing left the Brentford defenders dizzy as they spun around trying to work out where the ball had gone. During this spell the best performer for the opposition was their rugby pitch as the ball kept sticking, taking off enough pace to slow down several other potential promising moves. The London Irish squad should certainly be due a pint from the Brentford owner after this one!

As the match developed both sides started to play a full part with the whole of the pitch in use as the game swung one way and then the other in terms of possession and chances created. The Cherries seemed to have real trouble on their left defensive side, repeatedly losing the ball when trying to play out from the back there whilst Brentford appeared to have identified it as a potential weak link focusing a lot of their attacking play down there.

It was pleasing to see the defensive shape held well with aggressive and fast chasing and pressing when required, Billing one of the standouts during this period.

In both the 21st and 22nd minutes Begovic was called upon to make smart saves, one by each post, as the Bees tried to fashion an opening.

Two minutes later the Cherries burst into life at the other end with Stanislas as the key master unlocking the Brentford safe by helping to create angles that left space for others to work in. It was a dazzling team move that eventually reached Kelly out left who hit a glorious cross into the near post, a ball that should be as tempting for a striker as turkey leftovers are to the dog. Sure enough, Solanke gobbled it up as he got across his defender with a well-timed run and struck it into the net to make it 1-0.

The balance of play shifted as Brentford pushed forward in search of an equaliser and AFCB seeming content to sit back a little more. Handing the initiative to a team with an array of attacking talent is always a dangerous game to play but Billing was standing like a colossus almost every time a set piece came in and discipline across the lines repelled most of the danger.

On 35 minutes an outstanding piece of covering defending from Simpson stopped a ball reaching dangerman Toney in the box, every inch the equal of the Brentford covering challenges at the start of the game. The loose ball ended with a snapshot which Begovic saved but the walls suddenly looked shaky. In fact, from the resultant corner, they were breached as Lerma lost his man which allowed him to muscle a header over the line to make it 1-1.

Half time came with the Cherries no doubt feeling frustrated that their early dominance and later taking of the lead didn’t leave them with their noses ahead at the break.

The second half kicked off with no personnel changes and Lerma coming to the fore, his hard work defensively mopping up loose balls, intercepting and tackling proving invaluable during the opening exchanges.

Six minutes into the period and Brooks stood wide-eyed watching as Smith was left to cover two men on his own. They used the overload to flash a ball across goal but again Simpson was there to clear it.

David Brooks started this season as a player waiting for a Champions League team to come in for him. The last few matches he’s often looked like a merely average Championship player and did little to earn his reputation tonight. I’m not going to accept the pitch as an excuse again as other skilful players on both teams performed despite the challenges it set.

There was a slower pace to proceedings from both sides during the second 45 but for a spell, Brentford seemed to be getting more possession. Both managers then blinked at almost the same time with Brentford going for a like-for-like swap whilst on 67 the lesser spotted Joshua King replaced Lewis Cook as Tindall decided to twist by changing the system to chase the win.

It almost paid quick dividends as the Cherries immediately came far more into the game as an attacking threat. Adam Smith was getting down the right flank well and Brentford seemed unsure how to contain the extra attacker as several moves fizzled but didn’t quite explode into life with a killer ball.

With one less covering midfielder there was always the chance it could cost AFCB at the other end and so it was to be as Brentford scored their second on 78 minutes. A breakaway left Kelly one-on-one in the area with an attacker who completely bamboozled him before hitting a cross to the back post which was gleefully nodded home by the man being marked by Smith.

JT threw on Surridge in a game chasing move but the match broke down into the Cherries ineffectively lumping the ball forward in the hope of getting a flick-on whilst Brentford broke away into space in the other direction. The only serious threats on goal resulted in two injury-time saves from Begovic.

A defeat but a good performance. A draw would probably have been the fairest result but either side could have nicked the win. This time it wasn’t to be. Or, rather, it was the bees.

Conclusions and Player Ratings against Brentford – Click here.

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Your say…

Jimmy 306 wrote…

I think Smith was ball watching for the first goal, he never looked to see who was behind him. Kelly has a habit of leaving to much room between himself & the attacker, needs to get closer & leave little room for the cross. – Join the conversation, click here.

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