Date: 27th December 2017 at 6:36am
Written by: Neil Dawson

What a headline writers dream of a match with Christmas crackers, Christmas gifts, hungover refs and every other cliché thrown in to the pot. Eventually it was a controversial goal that pulled the home side level with Callum Wilson bundling in from an offside position with a suspicious arm… one for MOTD to discuss tonight!

Eddie rang the changes again returning to 4-4-2, King and Cook returned too. The game started with a lot of zippy error strewn football in the rain and neither side in the ascendancy.

Bournemouth were marginally the better side in the opening exchanges but it was a tale of corners…….West Ham defended a flurry of Bournemouth ones well and typically we let them score from their first…COLLINS ran untracked across the entire penalty area to head home Cresswell’s flag-kick. Another embarrassing moment from set piece defending.

Bournemouth responded with a great head of steam, Fraser and Ibe impressive on the flanks dovetailing with Smith and Francis. The issue was finishing. King was the worst culprit. Only he will know how he didn’t connect with Wilsons cross six yards out and totally unmarked and he faired little better when Fraser found him in a similar position. This time contact was made but only to take the ball wide when it was easier to score.

West Ham had an argument that the home team should have been down to ten men when Franno did a Karate on Kouate but the ref ruled the Cherries skipper wasn’t really looking and just showed a yellow.

After Adrian saved well from Smith’s drive it looked like a goal wasn’t coming but GOSLING had other ideas, fastening on to a loose ball from Fraser’s free-kick to smack home from eight yards. It was no more than Bournemouth deserved after such a bright end to the half.

HT Bournemouth 1 West Ham 1

The second half will give Eddie and the home fans much to cheer them up once the disappointment of not winning has dissipated. With the team playing the football we have become accustomed to, at pace and an opposition side unable to live with it… If we can do that for the next twenty games or so…we will be alright.

The battering was relentless for 30 minutes with Gosling and Cook quick to win the ball back on the rare occasions West Ham had it. The ball was reluctant to hit the net though with Wilson firing inches wide, Ibe being frustrated continually by Adrian, once brilliantly, Ake heading narrowly wide – it was only a matter of time before Bournemouth went ahead. When it arrived it was AKE fastening on to a flick after Lewis Cook put the ball back in from a set piece and burying the ball into the corner.

Bournemouth continued to go for the jugular with Adrian again denying Ibe then Afobe after the big hit-man arrived for King. What could go wrong? Veteran viewers of this season knew the answer to that question….Something…anything and it did. Enter Begovic first to slip inexplicably when clearing a routine ball allowing ARNNAUTOVIC an open goal. He hadn’t finished yet though allowing Hernandez’s shot to break off his body for ARNAUTOVIC to snaffle what he thought was the winner at the far post.

From total control in a winning position to losing in five minutes without the opposition doing anything serious…..a tale of this season in a nutshell. Bournemouth fans stared in disbelief as their Hammers counterparts sang to their hearts content. Still….. we have seen a few comebacks here over the years and another one was brewing. It came with a double dose of controversy though….Ake heading back across goal for WILSON to bundle in off what looked very much like an arm. Wrong decision by the ref after a very long chat with the lino…right decision for a match that it would have been a travesty to lose.

FT Bournemouth 3 West Ham 3

Begovic 4 – Poor kicking first half, slip and fumble second.

Francis 4 – Just not a right back…….murdered out there.
Cook 6 – Solid enough in the air and on ground.
Ake 7 – Athletic and powerful display with a goal and assist.
Smith 6 – Manful running in a strange position.

Ibe 6 – Good first half, faded…starting to work keepers.
Gosling 8 – Really strong-man display and goal.
Cook 7 – Good movement of ball and himself. Clever.
Fraser 7 – Caused problems all afternoon and we missed him when off.

King 5 – Missed a couple of sitters – not firing well.
Wilson 6 – Got behind a few times and poached the equaliser.
You can call that a lot of ways. Should have got three points without a shadow of doubt…..but a great fight back to rescue a potential disaster of losing to the team just above us.

The positives. Finally – a good performance that you were glad you paid money for. Players looked really up for it……and most importantly…….many chances created.

The negatives – Didn’t take chances………can’t defend routine balls. The story of the season.

West Ham (minus Arnautovic who is a right handful) are poor. We know that because Newcastle won at their place and Newcastle don’t win. We were much the better side but we didn’t finish the four or five chances we should have buried and we gifted them three goals. That’s really disappointing which ever way you look at it. A couple of stand-out poor performances from Franno and Begovic who luckily for them are undroppable. Another missed chance to play a better formation with three at the back as well and get Francis back to where he is less exposed.

Time is ticking on and this was a three point must. Why we can’t defend and see these games out only Eddie will know but we need to work on it quickly – eleven goals against in three games is horrifying. At least the scoring is back though!

I guess not much will change for the next few weeks with injuries as they are and all we can hope for is less defensive errors from a team prone to them and that the positivity of this performance gets taken forward.

Great for the neutral, Dan Gosling and the few fans that are convinced there is an international refereeing conspiracy against us!!

Report by Neil Dawson