Brett treble derails Crewe
26th January 2013
Brett Pitman thumped home two penalties and an open play poach to commandeer the matchball and keep Bournemouths charge to the top on course.
With teams around us not playing the Cherries now sit in fifth and seven points off automatic promotion with 17 games to go. Pitman also took his tally to an impressive 7 in 8 since his return.
Eddie made two changes from the win at Hartlepool. Steve Cook returning from his loan to the Old Bailey with Seabourne moving to left back as Daniels succumbed to his bruised left foot. Pitman returned up front for Hughes as Eddies favoured 4-4-2 looks to be more likely formation for home games.
Bournemouth started the match very brightly despite their midweek long distance trip. Arter fired over from a corner - the chance coming too early and with Pugh causing havoc everytime he got the ball a stream of crosses headed goalwards putting early pressure on.
It took eight minutes to score - Pugh was tripped following a Cruyff turn in the box and PITMAN joined the revolving door system of allocating penalty takers firing in off the foot of the post. Afterwards the hitman confirmed that the only sureity was he had to take them if he was on the pitch - the law according to Eddie!
The game was on fire now and with Crewe also playing very attractive quick football Murphy let us off when he hit Jalal with a free header six yards out from the impressive Moore's cross. Mcquoid then headed over from Francis's cross in a tit for tat move.
The rest of the half saw Crewe largely dominant with Bournemouth wasteful with the ball, Arter was back to his profligate days of yore, and us strangely involving Jalal in almost every move. The Iraqi stopper recieved his normal heros welcome, back in the side because he is most comfortable with his feet. We could see why as he recieved the ball as much in a fifteen minute period as Iniesta does for Spain!
Crewe lacked cutting edge though and Cook and Elphick comfortably saw out their crosses. Possession wise though it was always the railwaymen picking up second balls and spreading it around while we chase shadows.
Despite not getting forward much Bournemouth looked dangerous on the break and should have sealed it right on half time. O'Kane's glorious throughball released Grabban who rounded Phillips but to the surprise of the whole ground shot into the side netting when it was much easier to score.
HT Bournemouth 1 Crewe 0
Eddie Howe had obviously sorted out a few things at half time as Bournemouth didn't pass back once in the second half and Jalal was largely a spectator.
The game was enterprising with both teams looking to dictate. Pitman curled over following a great Mcquoid run and Inman was left free in the box (I wonder if he shouted 'I'm free') and missed the post by inches with a similar effort.
There was still a lot of misplaced passing from the home side and Crewe were very sharp on to loose balls and one wondered if it was to be one of those afternoons where the away team equalised late. Osman wasted another free headed chance for the visitors from Murphy's corner.
Howe was urging us forward though and around the 55 minute mark we embarked on our best spell of the match. Our front three were a nightmare for the Crewe defence in this spell and if they could play like it for ninety minutes it could be very interesting. First Phillips made a great save from Pitman's thumping header from Mcquoids cross, then Pitman and Grabban played a great one two before the latter saw his low effort saved well from Phillips legs.
The goal was coming and duly arrived with Arter's surging run and shot that Phillips parried. Mcquoid showed great tenacity to win the ball back and then awareness to square the ball for PITMAN who rifled into an empty net.
Bournemouth were on fire and Arter headed over from three yards as Phillip's parried Francis's explosive cross on to him too quickly. The comfort of a two goal lead didn't last though. Defensive errors have plagued the Cherries lately and when Francis missed a routine bouncing ball completely Pogba ran on and fired low past Jalal for sub COLCLOUGH to make sure the ball crossed the line.
The tension had returned and Eddie brought on Fogden for Mcquoid to tighten things up a bit. The little hard working wide man had other ideas though and went on a windy run into the box luring a foul as he cut back in with his quick feet. For the second time that afternoon PITMAN blasted past Phillips to register his first hattrick since his last appearance before he left for Bristol City.
With the game looking safe again Howe put on Hughes for Pitman to return to 4-5-1 and then Tubbs for Grabban to plough the lone furrow. Just before departing our top scorer fired wastefully at Phillips with O'Kane unmarked and screaming for the ball.
FT Bournemouth 3 Crewe 1
Jalal 7 - Safe handling and stroking it about like Glen Hoddle (!)
Francis 6 - Error for goal but some great attacking work 2nd half
Cook 7 - Very solid and composed, dominant aerially in surprise app.
Elphick 7 - Led back four superbly and 1st to most loose balls in box
Seabourne 6 - Strong and tidy - clearly a centre half though.
Pugh 7 - Great first half but faded very badly in the second.
Arter 7 - Poor first half of loose balls - much more in control 2nd.
O'Kane 7 - Very composed/ hard-working. Turning into crowd fave
Mcquoid 8 - Best game I've seen since return. A real handful.
Grabban 7 - Led line intelligently and great runs. No shooting boots
Pitman 8 - Hard working, linked well. 3 standard but vital finishes
It is clear opposition teams come here to draw now, rather than when Eddie first came back and people expected to win here and got caught out. We have been watched..... teams double up on Pugh and push wingers up against our full backs. They also go five in midfield to stop our fluid passing game. Life isn't going to be the sea of 5-0 wins some people around me seem to expect!
In the main our quality should see us through and it did today. When our front four rotate and interlink it is quite something and Eddie will be working on how to get it going for longer periods than today. Throw the explosive pace and tricky skill of Fraser into the mix and it's going to be an enjoyable ride if nothing else!
We still lack an absolute beast of a centre forward - quite often today Brett had dropped back, Grabban headed wide and when Pugh crossed there was no-one in the box. Again it needs addressing. Our centre mid struggled against five men in first half but were better against four in the second - again something Eddie will be pondering as more and more teams will line up this way against us.
Back four were solid although Seabourne clearly wasn't going to attack like Daniels which robbed us of some potency.
All in all a very professional performance (one error aside) and if we keep learning while winning there is no better scenario.
Report by Neil Dawson