Writer: Neil Dawson
Date:Saturday December 14 2013
14th December 2013
Bournemouth crashed back to earth with a 2-0 reverse to Birmingham City at Dean Court this afternoon. Expectation was high following an epic 2-1 win at neighbours Reading but, despite an impressive footballing display, the normal combination of defensive errors and a lack of cutting edge confounded the home team.
Not surprisingly Eddie kept the same personnel and formation from last Saturday with O'Kane again the shield in a 4-1-4-1. Anticipation was high with Birmingham being the start of a run against teams in the lower half of the table.
It was frustrating therefore that we gifted the Blues a goal after two minutes. Cook beat a couple of men venturing forwards but then carelessly gave the ball away. Birmingham pinged it wide to Burke who crossed low first time to where Cook would have been normally. With the centre half stranded up pitch Elphick had picked up the giant Zigic expecting the high cross and SHINNIE was left completely free to sidefoot past Camp.
It was the first attack of the game and Bournemouth then went on to completely dominate. The extra man in midfield seemingly suits our passing game and with O'Kane brilliantly pulling all the triggers Ritchie, Daniels and Pugh just picked the ball up off him at will and sprayed lovely quick passes all over the pitch.
The usual story prevailed though for a team that has scored 1 goal in four home games with a complete lack of a cutting edge. Too often at the end of a beautiful move Pugh and Ritchie were left crossing on their weaker foot with predictable results and when they did get the cross right nobody had come near post and nobody really gambled attacking it.
On the occasions the cross was met Blues keeper Randolph was in fine form saving from Grabbans flicked header at full stretch to save a certain goal. There seemed three great shouts for hand ball, two for us and one for the Blues but ref Naylor obviously wanted someone to catch it so he could be sure.
The football Bournemouth were serving up at times was breath-taking and an enthralled crowd were just waiting for the crucial opening up of the Blues defence when disaster struck again. A routine knocking the ball around the back caught Elphick a bit by surprise and he played the ball too quickly and just away from Surman who miscontrolled. Lee pounced for Birmingham and released ZIGIC one on one with Camp. The 6'8 hitman was feared for his aerial prowess but his quick touch and finish under Camp could have been Michael Owen.
Bournemouth were stunned at this point. Birmingham had not created one opportunity themselves and had been on the backfoot all game and yet somehow were 2-0 up. Still they poured forwards though and Grabban toepoked agonisingly wide when clean through out right before Ritchie smacked a drive at Randolph to finish the half.
HT Bournemouth 0 Birmingham 2
The second half saw Eddie bring on Fraser and move Ritchie into the middle behind Grabban. A decent looking 4-4-1-1 formation that allowed Ritchie to dictate play more than from the wing. A quiet Andrew Surman dropped out the side.
The possession and attacking if anything was even more relentless as a result but again a series of poor crosses (I counted Pugh hit the full back 6 times in a row when well placed) or a lack of willingness to shoot meant the ball stayed away from the Blues net. Randolph saved brilliantly when Pugh turned on to Francis's cross and spanked a ferocious drive and Ritchie had a free kick beaten out as Bournemouth turned on the heat. Fraser and Ritchie were particularly dominant with their driving runs and O'Kane continued to maestro the whole thing from his position fifty yards out.
Grabban flicked a header from Ritchies cross agonizingly wide before Eddie added more firepower in Rantie who went on to have a lively cameo and moved to 4-4-2.
The onslaught continued with Randolph reacting well to keep out Frasers' low drive and Cook and Elphick headed corners over. The game then became a little ragged as Bournemouth became desperate. Too many high balls were played in against a team that had two players over 6'6. Pitman arrived as we moved to three at the back and we started pumping the ball at him like he was Fletch. He headed wide and Cook shot over as the last few chances to get back in the game went begging.
That was it, Randolph confirmed his claim for Man of the Match with an amazing clawed save to keep out Ranties header but in the 94th minute this would just have been a consolation.
FT Bournemouth 0 Birmingham 2
Camp - 6 Bizarrely nothing to do considering the result.
Francis - 6 Up and down but a bit wasteful with passes sometimes
Cook 6 - One brilliant tackle second half but poor error for first
Elphick 6 - Error for the second and sluggish sometimes.
Daniels 7 - Lively with some brilliant runs. Pick of the defence.
Pugh 5 - Very poor crossing on his weaker foot and poor choices.
Arter 6 - Quieter than normal but some good play switches
Surman 5 - Very non descript and struggled to get in the game
O'Kane 8 - Brilliant defensive shielding, dribbling and awareness.
Ritchie 7 - Lively and always looking to shoot. Crowded out a bit.
Grabban - 7 Hard working sole front man display and channel runs.
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Date:Saturday December 14 2013
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