Honours even in the Battle of the Beaches
1st January 2018, 12.30pm
Cherries travelled the short but long trip to the Amex Stadium to meet a Brighton side they had already beaten once in League and Cup this season.
With only 45 hours between the finish of the Everton game and the start of this one it was obvious the team may be rotated again.
Unfortunately two of our most influential players in the last two games were dropped to the bench,Nathan Ake and Dan Gosling,while a third,Ryan Fraser,missed out altogether along with the injured Josh King.
We lined up in a 4-4-1-1 with Charlie Daniels returning at left back,Harry Arter partnering Lewis Cook in the middle,and Marc Pugh given a start on the wing and Benik Afobe in the ten slot.
Brighton lined up in their normal 4-5-1 with ex cherry Murray up front
It was Cherries who looked to have the biggest hangover ,they just didn't get out of the blocks quickly and looked sloppy,and were behind after 5 minutes,an innocuous looking run down our right flank was not cut out ,the ball being whipped across goal by Izquierdo for KNOCKAERT to finish from a tight angle for the first Premier League goal of 2018.
As Cherries got into some rhythm their first chance came to Callum Wilson who failed to connect Charlie Daniels cross before ref Michael Oliver waved away Harry Arters claims for a penalty after his shot struck Knockaerts arm.
Begovic and his counterpart Ryan were both called into routine stops before Bournemouth fashioned an equaliser from one of their many corners,former Seagull Steve COOK looping a header in offf the bar.
Brighton almost nicked ahead before half time,Pascal Gross feeding the impressive Izquierdo ,but Begovic saved brilliantly in the one on one.
Half Time Brighton 1 AFCB 1
With Cherries in the ascendancy,many thought they would press their claims for a win in the second half,but as has happened time and again since their entry to the Premier League,a defensive clanger gifted the opposition a goal,and yet again it was Simon Francis involved,as he needlessly tried to take his man on when a square pass or ball up the channel would suffice,he was robbed,the ball fell to that man Izquierdo again who squared for MURRAY to fire home an easy finish.
This was a really bad time to concede and has happened time and time again that we concede away in the first few minutes of the second half.
The ineffective Marc Pugh was hauled off shortly after,Nathan Ake called into action to replace him,with Adam Smith playing left wing,Ake slotting into his familiar centre back role,Francis moving into Smiths right back slot.
With chances going begging either end,Gosling replaced Arter,and Mousset replaced the out of sorts Afobe to try and get a grip on the game.Jordan Ibe shaved the post with a drive from outside the box as AFCB pressed for the equaliser.
Bournemouth had to attack as this was a must not lose game and they did put a lot of pressure on Brighton before grabbing another equaliser,a crazy goalmouth scramble reminiscent of pub football,in which there were at least two penalty shouts waved away resulted in WILSON sticking his boot out to the loose ball and it trickled in at the far post.
It was no more than Cherries deserved but despite more half chances at either end,the game petered out to a draw.
So yet again,Cherries Achilles heel is gifting the opposition a goal when in the ascendancy,which has now happened three times in three games and it just isn't good enough.
Our squad was exposed for how weak it is today when Marc Pugh struggled with the pace and heavy pitch and had to be replaced by a right wing back.
There is also no competition for places in defence,so the errors are swept under the carpet.
The forwards are also a concern with long term injuries to King and Defoe,Mousset and Afobe just don't look up to it this season.
Much for Howe to ponder (again) as the transfer window opens.
Begovic 9 Handled well and kept us in the game
Francis 4 His reputation at this club deteriorates by the week
Smith 7 Battling display in two positions
S Cook 8 Yet another important goal and solid at the back
Daniels 7 Decent return from injury
L Cook 8 Every inch a Premier League Midfielder despite a few misplaced passes
Pugh 5 Love him but this level is one step too many now.
Arter 6 Still way off top form
Ibe 7 His usual frustrating mix of giving the ball away and great play round the box,a goal soon surely?
Wilson 8 led the line well and another poachers goal.
Afobe 4 Didn't take his chance at all.
Ake 8 Same old Same old
Gosling 8 Should have started ?
Mousset 6 Tried but just hasn't got the touch for this level.
Uttoxeter cherry added...
Maybe we don`t play to his strengths as a penalty box poacher but I didn`t see much effort or desire either.
Ibe however is improving! Thought he made some great runs which frightened the Brighton defence. Like most others he made some wayward passes but offers something completely different to any other player apart from maybe Fraser. He is getting so close to his maiden goal.
Great to see us shooting too which is resulting in more corners from deflected opportunities.
Onwards, and hopefully upwards!