Written by kirsikka
We saw a small change in the setup when Jamal Lowe came on against Middlesbrough with Dominic Solanke dropping in behind him. It didn’t have much impact but AFC Bournemouth head coach Scott Parker had obviously decided something needed to change as he went with it from the off, with a front two of Lowe and Solanke.
I was surprised he decided to alter the setup but pleased that he recognised Philip Billing and Todd Cantwell have been so poor of late that needs must. I did have concerns about the lack of creativity a midfield pairing of Jefferson Lerma and Lewis Cook would bring, and also still having Adam Smith at left-back.
First up, credit where it’s due. The first half formation was actually more fluid than I mentioned above, with Lowe sometimes moving out wide, Ryan Christie dropping into the Billing role and Solanke pushing on. That’s flexibility worthy of praise as it gave a shaky looking Coventry defence plenty to think about on those occasions when we did manage to get forward.
Coventry kept trying to hit the spaces between our two Centre Backs or the channel between Centre Back and Full Back. They never quite nailed the ball in the first 45 but it looked like a dangerous tactic that we never quite smothered.
I’m attributing the second-half change in tactics to a back three as a direct attempt to counter this. Fill the space in the middle with an extra man and crowd them out. It was a surprising move but I have to say like this tactical adroitness from Parker.
The first goal came from our first real attack, Smith showing some attacking intent (down the left!) and actually managing to get a cross in with his left foot. It was a great header from Lowe as the ball was a little behind him. He may not have established himself as a first choice but his goals have made his signing more than worthwhile and an excellent addition to the squad in an area where we were short.
First period, the playing out from the back was hitting a wall around the midfield mark, constantly being given straight back to Coventry. This isn’t only related to having a man less in midfield to aim at since it’s been a problem the last few matches, one that requires a tactical solution. Over to Scott Parker.
The last 15 of the first half were a bit of a siege, with us unable to get the ball out of our half. The defending often felt last ditch rather than composed. The change in formation brought much more calmness to proceedings. Job done.
The second goal was all about us taking advantage of Coventry’s nervous defenders. A poor clearance let Lerma play an excellent first-time ball to Solanke and then some nice skill from him combined with a touch of luck for it to deflect in.
Travers has a hell of a kick on him. Good to know it’s in the locker when Moore is available and we’re going last-ditch for a goal.
The third goal was simple and again evidence of Coventry’s weakness at the back. Nice pass from Christie, and a striker’s finish from Solanke.
After that, the game was dead as a contest and was mostly played out with little threat from either team.
If you give them any space, Coventry look so dangerous going forward but a mess at the back. This must be what it was like playing against an Eddie Howe team. Under constant pressure at the back, never able to switch off for a moment with the opposition creating openings but not taking them. At the same time, they always looked like they might concede at the back if we got at them.
In the last two matches, I’ve said at half time it was in the lap of the managers to make a tactical change to win the games. None of them managed it. Today was 90 minutes won on the tactics board, and it was all Parker. Chapeau to him.
Lowe – Absolutely worked his socks off (even if it meant Solanke was mostly invisible in the more withdrawn position). Worthy of his place. The only reason he came off was either because he had a niggle or to shore things up tactically. Excellent.
Solanke – These are matches where you need a striker to take his chances. 3 chances, 2 goals. Can’t fault that. Although the finish for the hat trick attempt reminded me of… me. Good to know he’s human.
Lerma – Energy all over the pitch, as we expect from the man. Was a vital cog today in making the various formations work.
Room for improvement:
Whilst not everybody excelled, I don’t think anybody was poor out there. So I’ll respect the performance and leave this section nameless this time. It was a disciplined display with players all over the pitch filling in different roles.
Three points that pile the pressure on the chasers to not make another slip. It isn’t home and dry but there does appear to be a corpulent lady going through some vocal warm-up exercises outside the stadium. Not quite doing scales yet but not far off. Ours to throw away now.
Man of the match against Coventry
What a glorious away day, one of the best of the season. A few pints in the sunshine by the canal before the game (“your boats too big for you”) and then a stroll along the canal to the ground. The excellent atmosphere from the Cherries fans from the outset and throughout. We were lucky in the first half but thought a lot of that was down to Kelly’s sloppy passing creating needless pressure. 2nd half we were composed and solid and did exactly what we needed to do to see out a huge 3 points.
Superb atmosphere, and to come away to a team desperate to win to keep their playoff hopes intact and win is a massive credit to Parker and the team. – Join the conversation, click here.