Bournemouth Banish the Blues as run goes on
29th March 2014
There was a time in this match, at four nil up, when one wondered if it had ever been better. I was at Crystal Palace when we won 3-2 to go 8th in the same league 25 odd years ago but that side was a battling side with sporadic football - this side can be sublime to watch. They were on Tuesday and they were again tonight - not just beating teams and hanging on anymore but taking them apart... almost cruelly. Its always hard to judge different eras and memories get better with age but at ten past four this afternoon I think we hit the top spot.
Eddie made one change from Tuesday with O'Kane replacing Surman and the team started with the same verve and swagger that had seen off Dirty Leeds. Marauding down the wings and owning the centre, it was only the odd run of Ibe that brought the ball anyway near the away fans in the first half hour.
Bournemouth soon swept into a two goal lead. First Grabban teased Robinson before chipping a delicious cross to the back post where RITCHIE volleyed home across goal on his favoured left foot. No sooner had the fans settled back down and the ball was again heading past the beleaguered Randolph. This time the move was a trademark Eddie goal - all movement and quick passing that saw Arter release Pugh with the most beautiful of through balls and Randolph parry his cross into the path of GRABBAN who sidefooted his 18th of the season.
Birmingham were shell-shocked although rightly furious with the referee who had failed to allow an injured player back on the pitch until after the goal. I feared for the refs safety when five minutes later he allowed Kermorgant straight back on after treatment and twelve thousand Brummies let him know what they thought.
Their fury was about to extend when Grabban was again played in by Ritchie and tripped as he rounded the keeper out wide. It looked a penalty but I've seen them not given. Amidst the cacophony of boos GRABBAN blasted the penalty into the top corner and seemingly put the game to bed.
Bournemouth played out the half in total style, mesmeric movement and passing and a telepathic understanding of runs. It was joyous to watch and Camp was not called into action until injury time, although his miraculous one handed save from Martin's header was worth the wait.
HT Birmingham 0 Bournemouth 3
The second half saw Birmingham a little more fired up with Macheda having appeared on the half hour mark for Shinnie leading the charge. Bournemouth wethered the storm though and hit back when HARTE scored a trademark beauty in a career littered with them. The veteran left back had not yet registered for Bournemouth but he put this right in style when he collected the ball back from his original corner cut in towards the corner of the penalty area and dipped a ferocious left foot bullet over Randolph and into the top corner.
Where would it ever end? Well the answer was not as comfortably as we thought! Macheda was mobile and dangerous begging the question why he hadn't started. He fired under Camp following some Ping-Pong in the box and all of a sudden the home crowd woke up. When he doubled the consolation a few minutes later with a great shot into the bottom left hand corner a few of them even started believing.
Bournemouth then started to wobble a little bit and gave the ball away at increasing intervals. The reaction from the high pitched nerd behind me in berating Arter and O'Kane warranted a punch but conscious of the fact I had a six year old with me I resisted. Seriously - what do people want before they are happy - an aggregate win over Bayern Munich? I suspect even that would not be enough without two clean sheets.
Ibe hit the outside of the post for Brum with a blistering drive that had it gone in would have made the game incredibly stressful for those on and off the pitch. In a way that seemed to deflate the home team and barring a couple of high balls from set pieces we regained control. Grabban even had two chances to get a hattrick but Rantiesque finishes when one on one allowed Randolph to block twice and save further embarrassment.
FT Brum 2 Bournemouth 4
Camp 7 - One miraculous save and great handling.
Francis 7 - Not so marauding as home games but stylish
Elphick 8 - Classy and dominant leadership, great in air.
Cook 8 - Solid as a rock and very clever reading and distribution
Harte 8 - Continues with his amazing twilight. Awesome goal.
Ritchie 8 - Back on the score-sheet and clever passing and wide play.
Arter 8 - Terrier like with touches of sheer class.
O'Kane 6 - Still looks a little off colour to me and gave ball away often.
Pugh 7 - Nice end product and usual slow motion dribbling and tricks.
Kermorgant 7 - Nice passing, control and hold-up.
Grabban 8 - All over the pitch and now 19 goals this season.
Grabban and Kermorgant has the makings of a fine partnership and had we had it since Christmas we would be firmly ensconced in a play off spot now. The ball stays down the other end of the pitch and some of the target man play is awesome - the switched blind side ball to Arter in the lead up to Grabbans goal being an example. Ritchie is getting old form back (expect a goal next week as he scores them in patches) and the back four are an accomplished unit. You would probably not put Daniels back in now which says a lot for Hartes wand of a left foot. Only O'Kanes strange period of giving the ball away which has extended to its fourth game today perplexes. Arter and Surman might be the favoured partnership for the run in.
So onwards and upwards in dreamland. Play offs will be a possibility if the next two games are won... who would have thought. It adds a bit of fun and there is no pressure on the team. Momentum is what its all about at this stage of the season and we are brimming with it. Time to pinch ourselves.
Report by Neil Dawson