Match report v Luton

#1
--- No Quality, All Street In Drab Draw With Hatters ---

In the final match before Christmas the Cherries travelled to Luton, a fellow former favourite of those in charge of the FL in the darkest of days. JT eschewed his earlier season tactic of rotating every game to keep the same XI for the third match running.

It was another slow start as Bournemouth seemed to lack zip going forward. It’s hard to pinpoint whether this was heavy legs from the recent schedule, the heavy pitch slowing them down or something else. One thing for sure is that we saw a lot of heavy touches across the board from Tindall’s men.

Luton were disciplined in their shape but also tried to be ambitious going forward. Early attacks saw as many as eight men in and around the Cherries box as they tried to find a way through or push for a mistake. This was no backs against the wall and hope for a lucky break set up.

In fact, the ball pinged from one end of the pitch to the other like a game of blow football only with worse control on display. If a player's trapping didn’t let them down then they dribbled into dead ends or overhit passes. The lack of quality on the pitch from both teams was stark.

There were moments where you could see what each team was trying to do but simply failing to achieve when it came to the execution. It reminded me of a League One game where you’d have to accept the players were trying to do the right things but often didn’t quite have the level to make it come together. Only, at least one of the teams should have been fielding more than enough ability to make it happen.

On 20 minutes the first genuine effort on goal came and it was from the Hatters. Simpson was skinned on one side of the area and could only respond by fouling his man. The free kick was drilled straight at goal from an angle but iron strong hands from a diving Begovic kept it out.

There were a multitude of terrible attempts to score in the half but the only other one of note came on 35 when Luton stormed through the middle of the park unchallenged after a gap opened up following an AFCB player pulling out of a challenge near the halfway line.

As the ball came into the area and defenders were forced to commit themselves it was slotted to the free Luton attacker wide right of the area who leathered the ball into the far corner of the goal to make it 1-0. Or, at least that would have happened in almost any other season but this season Begovic is seeing it like a beach ball and flung himself to the right to make yet another great save. Still 0-0 after all.

The whistle went on the first 45 with the Cherries desperately in need of one of JT’s half time switches and tactical interventions that have often proven so effective this season. Therefore it was a surprise to see no changes as the team came out for the second period.

Bright points from the second half included Lewis Cook being consistently the best outfield player in a Cherries shirt. Simpson continuing to look mostly comfortable as, just after turning 24, he finally gets a run of starts in the first team. Rico getting on the ball a lot and at least looking like he was trying to make things happen after coming on as a sub. That was about it.

Bournemouth failed to create a single chance of note in the whole match. The Luton keeper could have sat in his goal munching on mince pies such was the lack of action for him over the 90 minutes.

The moment that typified the match more than any other for me was Lerma falling over weakly near the centre circle when he would have been in space with the ball if he’d stayed strong. Then, when the free kick never came, rather than getting up like the terrier we know he is as he would still have been clear favourite to get to the ball, instead he chose to sit back like a sulking schoolboy. Luton broke and it took some good defensive work to save the situation. About as un-Lerma a moment as I’ve seen since he signed for us.

Luton almost snatched it on 88 when their newly arrived sub chased a ball through the middle and looked set to slot past the out-rushing Begovic until a nudge from S Cook conspired to prevent him making clean contact allowing Asmir to keep it out. Another ref may have looked unkindly on that incident, certainly in the seen them given territory.

The final moment of the match saw Simpson balloon the ball over his own bar from a few yards out after a low cross was fired in. He’ll tell you it was a brilliantly judged clearance. I doubt he could keep a straight face when doing so though. Still, sometimes young(ish) players deserve a little luck.

The match ended and whilst Boris was leaving much of the country in tiers, this was the footballing equivalent of a depressed sigh. The quality never showed throughout as it descended if not into a street fight then a stop, start walking war. Whatever the opposite of exhilarating is, this was it.


--- Conclusions ---

- Tactically the Luton manager wanted to make this game about hard work rather than good skill on the ball whilst JT aimed for the opposite. Tindall lost out, even his changes had little to no effect.

- Everyone can have a bad game but it’s not great when you see six or seven put in below par performances. If we weren’t in a lockdown situation then I’d be asking if the players had a secret Christmas party last night.

- There are times when it seems like our players feel they should be too good for the opposition players at this level and can waltz through them on their own. It needs to be made absolutely clear to our lot that they’re at this level for a reason, as are the players on the other team, and whilst they might have some technical advantages they still have to get the basics right if they want to win every match.

We also need to build the partnerships back up as too many times we look like a bunch of people having a kickabout in the park who’ve never met before.

- We ground out a draw. Whether that’s enough at the end of the season time will tell. More worrying for me isn’t the result as much as the level of performance on display.

- I’m more and more coming around to the idea that Begovic might be our player of the season so far. I’d say it’s between him and Lewis Cook at the moment. Well done Asmir, you’ve put many doubters in their place myself included.


--- Player Ratings ---

Begovic – 8 and Man of the Match
There wasn’t a lot to do. However, that second save in the first half was absolutely top draw and even the initial one would probably have broken through the glass wrists of AFCB keepers past.

A Smith – 5
A tired performance maybe. Offered almost nothing going forward which was what we needed from him today.

S Cook – 7
Fifth clean sheet on the trot. Restricted them to not a lot despite them being very much in the game.

Simpson – 7
For me, his best match yet. Looking more and more assured. Carry on progressing and maybe he’ll keep out the walking wounded when they come back from injury.

Kelly – 5
See Smith.

Lerma – 5
Disappointing all over the park.

L Cook – 8
Much of his best work was defensive which tells it’s own story. Still looked very good and excellent commitment in not shirking 50-50s but couldn’t quite make anything happen going forward. Best AFCB outfield player by far.

Billing (off on 57) – 5
A let down after his recent good form. No driving at the Luton lines and little impact of note.

Brooks (off on 69) – 5
Repeatedly poor ball control in ways we shouldn’t be seeing from a player of his ability. It can’t be blamed on the opposition so I don’t know how to explain it. In the team to create. He didn’t.

Solanke – 6
Never looked like it was going to work for him today. Dribbled into cul-de-sac’s a few times. Frustrating.

Stanislas (off on 57) – 6
Little to no impact on the game.

Rico (on from 57) – 7
At least tried to create some partnerships and make things happen on the left flank when he came on.

Surridge (on from 57) – 6
Struggled to make an impact. Never gave up but didn’t really do much either.

Riquelme (on from 69) – 6
In many ways a tailor made situation to show his quality and stake a claim. All the other protagonists misfiring or injured so given minutes to shine as the main man and change the game. He tried but apart from linking up with Rico never really threatened.


Overall Grade: C-
It’s still a point, and a point away from home. However, this isn’t a game where you can say it wasn’t our day as we barely showed up. We got drawn into a bitty, low quality slug fest back and forth with endless cheap fouls going both ways. Rather than trying to change that footballing narrative we seemed content to let it play out.

We often moved the ball around at the pace of an asthmatic snail. I bet the Luton players and manager, who will no doubt have watched some of our previous matches and been prepared for something very different, couldn’t believe their luck. A very generous Christmas present for them. In fact, on the balance of chances created, they were undoubtedly the better side.

As the famous quote once went, if that match had been played in your back garden you’d probably have closed the curtains.

A shame since other results meant we could have pulled away from the pack but instead have given a nice fillip to Norwich.

Still, Merry Christmas one and all. I hope you all get to enjoy it in some manner or other despite the latest announcement.
 
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#2
Accurate report, thank you. It was deadly dull but a point's a point. The pitch was awful and it was like watching an episode of The Big Match on a wet weekend in the '80's with tired players trying to stay upright and control a ball with unpredictable bounce. Don't think I'll wait up for the highlights on Quest.
 
#8
--- No Quality, All Street In Drab Draw With Hatters ---

In the final match before Christmas the Cherries travelled to Luton, a fellow former favourite of those in charge of the FL in the darkest of days. JT eschewed his earlier season tactic of rotating every game to keep the same XI for the third match running.

It was another slow start as Bournemouth seemed to lack zip going forward. It’s hard to pinpoint whether this was heavy legs from the recent schedule, the heavy pitch slowing them down or something else. One thing for sure is that we saw a lot of heavy touches across the board from Tindall’s men.

Luton were disciplined in their shape but also tried to be ambitious going forward. Early attacks saw as many as eight men in and around the Cherries box as they tried to find a way through or push for a mistake. This was no backs against the wall and hope for a lucky break set up.

In fact, the ball pinged from one end of the pitch to the other like a game of blow football only with worse control on display. If a player's trapping didn’t let them down then they dribbled into dead ends or overhit passes. The lack of quality on the pitch from both teams was stark.

There were moments where you could see what each team was trying to do but simply failing to achieve when it came to the execution. It reminded me of a League One game where you’d have to accept the players were trying to do the right things but often didn’t quite have the level to make it come together. Only, at least one of the teams should have been fielding more than enough ability to make it happen.

On 20 minutes the first genuine effort on goal came and it was from the Hatters. Simpson was skinned on one side of the area and could only respond by fouling his man. The free kick was drilled straight at goal from an angle but iron strong hands from a diving Begovic kept it out.

There were a multitude of terrible attempts to score in the half but the only other one of note came on 35 when Luton stormed through the middle of the park unchallenged after a gap opened up following an AFCB player pulling out of a challenge near the halfway line.

As the ball came into the area and defenders were forced to commit themselves it was slotted to the free Luton attacker wide right of the area who leathered the ball into the far corner of the goal to make it 1-0. Or, at least that would have happened in almost any other season but this season Begovic is seeing it like a beach ball and flung himself to the right to make yet another great save. Still 0-0 after all.

The whistle went on the first 45 with the Cherries desperately in need of one of JT’s half time switches and tactical interventions that have often proven so effective this season. Therefore it was a surprise to see no changes as the team came out for the second period.

Bright points from the second half included Lewis Cook being consistently the best outfield player in a Cherries shirt. Simpson continuing to look mostly comfortable as, just after turning 24, he finally gets a run of starts in the first team. Rico getting on the ball a lot and at least looking like he was trying to make things happen after coming on as a sub. That was about it.

Bournemouth failed to create a single chance of note in the whole match. The Luton keeper could have sat in his goal munching on mince pies such was the lack of action for him over the 90 minutes.

The moment that typified the match more than any other for me was Lerma falling over weakly near the centre circle when he would have been in space with the ball if he’d stayed strong. Then, when the free kick never came, rather than getting up like the terrier we know he is as he would still have been clear favourite to get to the ball, instead he chose to sit back like a sulking schoolboy. Luton broke and it took some good defensive work to save the situation. About as un-Lerma a moment as I’ve seen since he signed for us.

Luton almost snatched it on 88 when their newly arrived sub chased a ball through the middle and looked set to slot past the out-rushing Begovic until a nudge from S Cook conspired to prevent him making clean contact allowing Asmir to keep it out. Another ref may have looked unkindly on that incident, certainly in the seen them given territory.

The final moment of the match saw Simpson balloon the ball over his own bar from a few yards out after a low cross was fired in. He’ll tell you it was a brilliantly judged clearance. I doubt he could keep a straight face when doing so though. Still, sometimes young(ish) players deserve a little luck.

The match ended and whilst Boris was leaving much of the country in tiers, this was the footballing equivalent of a depressed sigh. The quality never showed throughout as it descended if not into a street fight then a stop, start walking war. Whatever the opposite of exhilarating is, this was it.


--- Conclusions ---

- Tactically the Luton manager wanted to make this game about hard work rather than good skill on the ball whilst JT aimed for the opposite. Tindall lost out, even his changes had little to no effect.

- Everyone can have a bad game but it’s not great when you see six or seven put in below par performances. If we weren’t in a lockdown situation then I’d be asking if the players had a secret Christmas party last night.

- There are times when it seems like our players feel they should be too good for the opposition players at this level and can waltz through them on their own. It needs to be made absolutely clear to our lot that they’re at this level for a reason, as are the players on the other team, and whilst they might have some technical advantages they still have to get the basics right if they want to win every match.

We also need to build the partnerships back up as too many times we look like a bunch of people having a kickabout in the park who’ve never met before.

- We ground out a draw. Whether that’s enough at the end of the season time will tell. More worrying for me isn’t the result as much as the level of performance on display.

- I’m more and more coming around to the idea that Begovic might be our player of the season so far. I’d say it’s between him and Lewis Cook at the moment. Well done Asmir, you’ve put many doubters in their place myself included.


--- Player Ratings ---

Begovic – 8 and Man of the Match
There wasn’t a lot to do. However, that second save in the first half was absolutely top draw and even the initial one would probably have broken through the glass wrists of AFCB keepers past.

A Smith – 5
A tired performance maybe. Offered almost nothing going forward which was what we needed from him today.

S Cook – 7
Fifth clean sheet on the trot. Restricted them to not a lot despite them being very much in the game.

Simpson – 7
For me, his best match yet. Looking more and more assured. Carry on progressing and maybe he’ll keep out the walking wounded when they come back from injury.

Kelly – 5
See Smith.

Lerma – 5
Disappointing all over the park.

L Cook – 8
Much of his best work was defensive which tells it’s own story. Still looked very good and excellent commitment in not shirking 50-50s but couldn’t quite make anything happen going forward. Best AFCB outfield player by far.

Billing (off on 57) – 5
A let down after his recent good form. No driving at the Luton lines and little impact of note.

Brooks (off on 69) – 5
Repeatedly poor ball control in ways we shouldn’t be seeing from a player of his ability. It can’t be blamed on the opposition so I don’t know how to explain it. In the team to create. He didn’t.

Solanke – 6
Never looked like it was going to work for him today. Dribbled into cul-de-sac’s a few times. Frustrating.

Stanislas (off on 57) – 6
Little to no impact on the game.

Rico (on from 57) – 7
At least tried to create some partnerships and make things happen on the left flank when he came on.

Surridge (on from 57) – 6
Struggled to make an impact. Never gave up but didn’t really do much either.

Riquelme (on from 69) – 6
In many ways a tailor made situation to show his quality and stake a claim. All the other protagonists misfiring or injured so given minutes to shine as the main man and change the game. He tried but apart from linking up with Rico never really threatened.


Overall Grade: C-
It’s still a point, and a point away from home. However, this isn’t a game where you can say it wasn’t our day as we barely showed up. We got drawn into a bitty, low quality slug fest back and forth with endless cheap fouls going both ways. Rather than trying to change that footballing narrative we seemed content to let it play out.

We often moved the ball around at the pace of an asthmatic snail. I bet the Luton players and manager, who will no doubt have watched some of our previous matches and been prepared for something very different, couldn’t believe their luck. A very generous Christmas present for them. In fact, on the balance of chances created, they were undoubtedly the better side.

As the famous quote once went, if that match had been played in your back garden you’d probably have closed the curtains.

A shame since other results meant we could have pulled away from the pack but instead have given a nice fillip to Norwich.

Still, Merry Christmas one and all. I hope you all get to enjoy it in some manner or other despite the latest announcement.
Really like your report told it like it was, poor to say the least. Looking at the stats 60% possession no goals, 16 shots only 2 on target. Sounds a bit like my school reports should have tried harder has the ability but does not make the effort. I know they have played a lot of games in a short period but these guys are professionals. There is little excuse for not giving your best. Maybe next time will be a lot better. Merry Christmas to all.
 
#9
Ha. Tony Scott what a player he was. Built like a matchstick but brave and committed. Could cross to perfection and anticipate Ted Macs runs before Ted had even thought about it.
Lovely perm too....those were the days!