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'If It's Football, It's Vital'

AFC Bournemouth 1 - Stevenage 1

Dean Court

20th November 2012, 7:45pm

Attendance: 5,504

Tubbs proves a point with a point

Bournemouth and Stevenage fought out an enthralling 1-1 draw with a late Tubbs equaliser keeping Eddies unbeaten record going.

With Brett Pitman signing on before kick off, Matt Tubbs must have been wondering where he fits in to the grand scheme of things but the diminutive hit-man did everything he could to prove himself worthy of fighting for a place and keep the recent run on track.

Bournemouth lined up with the same team that had demolished Oldham against a resolute Stevenage side who were looking to prove a point after two four goal concessions in a row. They had changed their formation to one up front and a five man midfield and it proved a difficult conundrum for Bournemouth to get their heads around.

The extra man in midfield forced Bournemouth to go wide to create anything and Barnard had the first chance firing straight at Arnold from Daniels low cross. The Cherries were playing lots of neat triangles but Stevenage threw themselves at anything and height wise were happy to allow us to cross the ball and then head it away. On a rare occasion we won a header Arnold clawed away Grabban's top corner bound effort.

Chances were at a premium though with Bournemouth always dominating possession but struggling to find a break-through. When the opening goal came it was against the run of play. Addison fatally hesitated on a bouncing ball and allowed Haber behind him to cross for TANSY to smack a shot in off the underside of the cross-bar and stun the home crowd.

For a brief period Stevenage dominated possession but Bournemouth came back strongly. Again though every cross was dealt with and some poor first touches gave possession away in key areas. When we did have chances Stevenage threw bodies in the way of every shot - 5 blocks in 5 minutes leading up to half time showed Bournemouth this was not going to be easy.

HT Bournemouth 0 Stevenage 1

The second half saw Tubbs on for the ineffective Barnard and clearly a plan to play low and not into the visitors height advantage.

The usual bombardment took a while to happen though with two rows of four and a spare man sweeping Stevenage restricted Bournemouth to a lot of wide positions and blocked crosses - clearly a game plan worked out well in advance. Playing further back Arter and Macdonald both fired in 30 yarders but they didn't trouble Arnold.

As the game went on the visitors started tiring as Bournemouth's constant switching of play, mostly orchestrated by another impressive Arter display, tired their legs. You sensed a goal was coming - Macdonald headed a Francis cross inches wide and Grabban volleyed narrowly over from a brilliant Pugh run and cross.

Howe switched Grabban and Mcquoid and this was the catalyst for the equaliser. Mcquoid was having a bit of a mare with his first touch and the right wing wasn't really clicking like the left. Grabban changed this with more controlled play. The switch was key to the equaliser with Grabban picking a loose clearance wide and crossing first time for TUBBS to ghost in to the six yard box unmarked and head home for a typical poacher's strike.

The atmosphere was now crackling and Bournemouth went for the jugular. We very nearly equalised with what would have been a contender for goal of the season. Francis picked out Pugh with a 60 yard cross field pass. The newly signed winger controlled and back heeled in Daniels whose first time volleyed cross was met by Addison who headed powerfully and wastefully wide from ten yards having stormed into the box unmarked.

How Bournemouth didn't go on to win only one man can answer - Stevenage keeper Arnold. Fletch arrived as a late sub and straight away headed back across the box for Addison to head into the top corner but Arnold appeared from nowhere to claw the ball on to the post with a world class save. He then blocked brilliantly with his legs when Grabban's volley thrashed through a crowded penalty area.

Right at the death though Bournemouth were indebted to David James who reacted fantastically to keep out a deflected shot by visiting sub Rogers. Four minutes of injury time brought a lot of huff and puff but no real chances and a pulsating game drew to a close.

FT Bournemouth 1 Stevenage 1

James 7 - Handled well and one late great save

Francis 7 - Motored up and down well and defended superbly.
Elphick 9 - Read game brilliantly and was faultless
Addison 6 - Fatal error again - how many goals are down to him?
Daniels 7 - Link with Pugh is almost telepathic.

Mcquoid 6 - Stop start game for Josh with good bits / poor control
Arter 7 - Great second half of probing and scheming.
Macdonald 8 - Another lesson in work and skill.
Pugh 8 - Trickery superb and entertainment personified.

Barnard 6 - Not really gelling and we are not getting best of him
(Tubbs 7) - Johnny on the spot and good hold up play.
Grabban 7 - Wasteful on a couple of chances but worked hard.

Star Player

Elphick for me. Absolutely outstanding display of reading the game and control. Narrowly edges it from Macdonald and Pugh. who fought against an extra man and ran the last half hour.

Verdict

This was as good a performance in the second half as any recent ones. The difference today was we were up against arguably the best defensive team to visit this year. The effort Stevenage put into their shape and blocking would have made Tony Pulis proud! When we did get through we met an inspired keeper. We should not be down hearted all the tempo and imagination was there as in previous games since Howe returned. He has already addressed one weak link with the return of Pitman which should add presence to the forward line and goals out of nothing. The only other worry for me continues to be Addison. Other than that I think we will continue to storm along with only injuries to stop us. I was thinking today if Macdonald got crocked do we have a natural replacement? Still - a nice thing to worry about after the crock of crap Groves served up!! So credit to Stevenage for stubbornness and to us for the belief to keep going. A cracking night's entertainment and more lessons for Eddie to think about than in recent games. We also know we will have a manager who will learn well and quickly.

Report by Neil Dawson




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The Journalist

Writer: Neil Dawson Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Tuesday November 20 2012

Time: 11:11PM

Your Comments

In my opinion I thought Arter was our man of the match. His vision was superb but it is great to see difference of opinions on who should get award. I seriously would consider Howe giving Zubar a run as I believe he will solve all of our defensive problems inmo but I trust Howe to do what's right in the end. It just looks like Addison can't control his own wait :L something is defo up as I've never seen a more unbalanced player. He just doesn't look match fit. Grabban is another one that frustrates me as he's meant to be a striker but apart from the prier game where he was scoring from 5 yards or so his accuracy is somewhat shocking! But I just think it's something he needs to work on as he does everything else well. But full credit to Stevenage defensively as they really did look like a tight unit. Can't argue on that.
Will-AFCB
*weight
Will-AFCB
Grabban snatched at lots of impossible shots that he should have crossed, but that is always what happens when you have scored 3 goals in your last game. What I couldn't work out is where was Mcquoid supposed to be playing? It may have been intentional, but after Grabban scored a hatrick he seemed to have been put RM in the next game, bringing Mcquoid into the centre. I dont know if Grabban was RM, or if he was just forced out there because Mcquoid kept going AWOL...
chris skyline
...agree Addison is too cumbersome and doesn't seem comfortable on the ball....effective in the air (sometimes) but far too immobile for a defender....
Garbo
I agree. Mcquoid did not look the answer to a partner for Francis last night. Grabban was much better at it but I don’t think he’s the answer either. Question is who is? Neil’s right that was great entertainment. The team played really well again and given a normal helping of luck that would have been a win. Addison has good qualities but his footwork under pressure is not always one of them. Perhaps he should be more direct. “If in doubt bang it into touch”. One thing to work on: Using our big squad to keep the team fresh when we have three games in eight days.
Cheshunt Cherry
 

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