Match report v Reading

#1
--- Jekyll and Hyde Feast On Broken Biscuits ---

Four or five at the back was the question most in need of an answer and JT had obviously seen enough in our last match to stick with the four in a 4-2-3-1 formation that allows us to field a number of our attacking options.

A quiet start was pushed aside when Semedo went on a dribble near the AFCB byline. It was bizarre in that he didn’t really use any tricks, both Cook’s in turn seemingly terrified to make a challenge in case they gave away a penalty. He still overhit the ball towards Begovic who waited gratefully for it to roll into his hands only for the Reading player to steam on through and nick it away, winning a penalty when Asmir then brought him down. No chance from the penalty and 1-0 down through a lack of assertiveness from three players in quick succession.

It many ways, this was the nightmare scenario. In their blistering start to the season Reading kept six clean sheets so could now happily sit back and wait for us to create something whilst they try to hit us on the break.

A note for Cherries players in case they ever happen to read this. If the ref gives an early penalty that’s absolutely stonewall that doesn’t mean he’s going to start giving out stupid ones at the other end. Lerma was guilty of a horrible dive in trying to get one and Solanke, when well placed to create a chance, opted instead to collapse in a heap when a Reading defender breathed near him. What a waste.

The first half then formed into the predictable pattern with us dominating the ball but not doing much with it whilst Reading had acres of space to work with if they did manage to get forward.

The attacking triumvirate behind Solanke played across the line a lot and all looked neat and tidy on the ball but the problem was it was plenty horizontal and very little vertical. With the lone striker every move needs at least one of them breaking the lines and supporting him but we didn’t see too much of that.

When the fast passing worked it was slick and beautiful to watch but there wasn’t nearly enough of it. Too many times players dithered on the ball to try and take on their man allowing Reading to regroup fill all the space. Danjuma was particularly guilty here.

The 17th minute did see one brilliant sweeping move which ended with Brooks breaking into the box but unfortunately his shot was well save by the keeper. It was exactly this type of move that the formation encourages so it was a shame this seemed like the sole instance in the first 45 as we must have trained for it. The running off the ball was good, players always available for the pass, there was simply not enough penetration to it.

At the back Kelly and Rico were having a contest to see who could be sloppiest, either in not staying with their man, loosely giving the ball away or hoofing way beyond the reach of our attackers even if they’d been on motorbikes.

Then on 42 minutes the seemingly inevitable happened. A weak challenge from Lewis Cook allowed his man to get away with the ball in a central position and Rico, with a perfect view to see and track Aluko, watched him make a run without reacting. By the time he realised the ball was coming that way he had no chance to catch him as Aluko fired Reading’s second into the net.

Two shots on target, two goals. It seemed the early season Reading were back.

There was still time in the last moment of the first half for Stanislas to fire in a good free kick which the keeper saved well. We’ve seen some poor set pieces this season but Junior has been the pick and is a little unlucky not to have scored one.

Half time and something needed to change so JT went with hauling off Rico, moving Kelly to left back and bringing Mepham on into the centre of the defence. However, despite the change the second half picked up where the first left off. Lots of possession but not a lot doing.

Finally, in the 55th minute Lewis Cook carried the ball forward and played it out left, a glorious dummy (from Danjuma?) left it to run to Kelly who whipped in a brilliant cross which Solanke slotted into the net. Incisive and skilful movement and play, exactly what we’d been desperate for all match.

With Reading reeling, the Cherries bashed them to the turf with another fantastic move three minutes later. Some joyous one touch play ended with a Brooks dribble across the line not far outside their area and, as he looked up for a pass, Danjuma made the perfect run inside his full back. Brooks’ eyes lit up like headlights and he slid the ball through whilst Arnaut chose this time to fire into the goal by the near post leaving the keeper with no chance.

Three minutes that changed the world. Well, the game anyway. And my weekend.

Reading responded with a double substitution on their right hand side to try and nullify our threat down there and it seemed to have an impact as they came more into the game, although that could equally be a decision to step forward more now they weren’t winning.

In this spell Kelly was lucky to escape with two more sloppy moments, the former with the attacker overrunning the ball when clean through and the latter with a shot straight at Begovic.

With neither team particularly on top, the 76th minute saw a moment of pure quality from Lewis Cook. An overhit Danjuma cross was rescued from going out for a throw by Stacey. A couple of quick passes found Brooks heading towards the centre outside the area. He laid it off for L Cook who took a touch and pinged the sweetest of strikes over the keeper’s head only to dip down and in off the underside of the bar.

Incredible technique and, despite this being his first goal in Cherries colours, he stood there almost Cantona-esque as if to say ‘of course, what else would you expect from me’ although the mobbing he got from his teammates told a different story.

The boot was now on the other foot as Simpson came on for Brooks with the Cherries looking to shore up the defence and Reading pushing forward to try and get an equaliser, although now they were the ones leaving lots of space at the back.

If anything in the game matched the Lewis Cook goal for quality it came in the 83rd minute when Reading swung in a corner and a header was barrelling towards the bottom corner only for Begovic to fling himself at it and somehow keep it out. I’ll need to see it again in slow motion but it’s almost like it came off his hand into his face then off his body before his swung a boot to kick it out. Incredible.

The Biscuitmen finally crumbled for good in the 88th minute when a long ball from Kelly was sent over the top for Solanke to chase. With not much hope of getting there he still gave it everything only for the Reading keeper to go (ginger) nuts just outside his area. In an almost reverse of the situation that ended with a penalty for them, their keeper assumed it was safe but Solanke’s determination and battling quality won him the ball. An apparently open goal can still be missed when there are two covering defenders but he smashed it home. A goal won, made and scored all by himself.

There was still time for a 94th defensive error from the Cherries, possibly from Kelly again, to give Reading another shot which Asmir was equal to once again.
 
#2
--- Conclusions ---
- Spirit. That’s what you need to fight back from two goals down and that’s what we showed. It was very encouraging to see.

- Sloppiness. A lot of it in evidence today with Rico and Kelly the main culprits.

- Saves. I’ve said before the only thing Begovic had left to prove this season was that he could come back from a bad mistake. Consider every box now checked. Bournemouth’s number one, and deservedly so.

- Solanke. I worried during the match that he was the wrong kind of striker for this formation. It simply didn’t see him involved that much so I thought maybe we needed a fox in the box who would be happy to touch the ball three times in the game and score with one of those or a target man the three behind could bounce the ball off or swing crosses into. He showed me what I know as I had to score a big line through that note I wrote on 52nd minute. I salute him, especially for his second goal.

- Scouts. Our bizarre habit of often only playing well for one 45 will confuse the heck out of opposition scouts. Play like we did in the first and they’ll think they can sit in and hit us on the break comfortably. Play like we did in the second and they’ll tell their manager not to sit in as we’ll break them down anyway so best to try and go for it.

- Reading. About as royal as Oliver Cromwell.


--- Player Ratings ---

Begovic – 7
One howler but one awe inspiring save. Coming back from the mistake was the key for me. Also made several other decent stops.

Stacey - 6
Not his most dangerous performance going forward but did his job and the third goal was courtesy of him saving a poor cross.

S Cook - 6
Alright although the first goal was partly due to his unwillingness to make a challenge

Kelly - 5
Lots of sloppy mistakes through the whole match partly redeemed by a brilliant cross for the first goal when moved to left back. Where is the player we saw at the tail end of last season?

Rico - 5 (subbed on 45)
A day to forget. Reset for the next match please.

Lerma - 7 (subbed at 90+4)
All over the pitch like a man that hasn’t travelled across the world in the last couple of days. Still showing some attacking intent despite being in a midfield two.

L Cook – 8 and Man of the Match
When he carries the ball forward it changes the whole complexion of our attack as the opposition don’t know how to cover him and all the runs his quality passing can hit. As for the goal… gosh.

Stanislas – 6 (subbed at 78)
The weakest of the three in the attacking line but did ok. Simply average.

Brooks – 8 (subbed at 84)
In and out of the game at times but still managed to look threatening throughout. He’s back.

Solanke - 8
Two goals in a role where he’s mainly there to score goals and not much else. Can’t fault it.

Danjuma – 7
If he wouldn’t suck the pace out of attacks sometimes as he wants to take on a defender then he and we would be almost unstoppable. Still very good though.

Mepham – 7 (on from 45)
We looked much more solid with him in there.

Riquelme – 6 (on from 78)
A couple of nice touches but surely is in need of more minutes in a match to show what he can really do.

Simpson (on from 84)
Helped solidify us for the finish. Not enough time for a mark.

Ofoborh (on from 90+4)
Maybe a sign that they genuinely want to groom him for the first team that they’re using him as the time wasting sub now so the mystique of coming on leaves his boots?


Overall Grade – B+
A slightly staid first half in the attacking sense and poor one defensively was blown away by the second half destruction of a Reading team who think their strength is at the back. Excellent to see as we’ll play against many worse teams that want to sit in against us.

Credit to Tindall for the half time change as it made a difference. For a couple of hours at least… top of the league, top of the league. We’re AFC Bournemouth. We’re top of the league.
 
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#3
I know, I know. I really tried this time but there was blimmin' well too much that happened for me to keep it short and it ended up so long that I had to split the post again.

I'll get there one day.
 
#5
Yet another good report!
I must disagree with man of the match because Lewis gave the ball away a lot and he only made two or three of his signature passes today but his goal was amazing!
I would have gone with brookes or solanke personally
Thank you.

MotM could easily have gone to either of the other two, I had them all on 8. I agree Cook did make mistakes today but he was also the force behind a lot of the good things that happened. And that goal was really special.
 
#7
I know, I know. I really tried this time but there was blimmin' well too much that happened for me to keep it short and it ended up so long that I had to split the post again.

I'll get there one day.
A really excellent report and you make many good points which resonate with me. Your point about opposition scouts is exactly what I was thinking after the final whistle. We must be an absolute nightmare for the opposition to prepare for at the moment. They can never know which AFCB team they will be playing against :p
Probably all part of JT’s master plan :bow:
 
#11
Brilliant match report. Agree with virtually all of it. Agree with Cook as MOTM. He’s been great so far this season - has finally been given enough game time to show what he can do. Would be the first name on my team sheet every week.

I have been championing Solanke’s cause since we signed him. He’s a great player. Yes he has an off day like everyone else, but he has so much to his game. He’s a victim of his early career success. He got picked up by a big club too early and has spent too long playing irrelevant football for reserves etc. Be interesting to look back in his season in May. I reckon it’s going to stack up pretty well.

On the other hand, have never been convinced by Rico. He’s only looked remotely up to it on the left of a back three (which I’m hoping we won’t be using too liberally going forwards). Was way off the pace in the PL and was a disaster today. Just seems to lack a defender’s instinct and looks uncomfortable getting forwards. Kelly must have more scuffs and air-kicks than the rest of the team put together, but looks far better at LB than CB. His cross for the first goal was the game-changing moment.

Today was the first time I’ve jumped round the living room screaming, so thanks for that lads.
 
#12
Great report and agree with most of it. One thing I disagree with strongly though is your comment that Solanke is only in the team to score goals, he offers so much more than that in his ability to drop deep and link play. Virtually everything positive that we do involves him in some way.
I agree with that, he's often much maligned.
 
#14
Great report and agree with most of it. One thing I disagree with strongly though is your comment that Solanke is only in the team to score goals, he offers so much more than that in his ability to drop deep and link play. Virtually everything positive that we do involves him in some way.
Maybe I worded it badly but my point wasn't that he is only in the team to score. More that with this formation and specifically the three sitting behind him, our play lent itself to his role suiting an out and out finisher. He isn't that, he generally isn't lethal enough but he has more to his game in other ways. However, as I said in the report, he rammed that thought back down my throat and I had to cross it out as he absolutely was a finisher in this match. One real chance, two goals.
 
#16
Great report and agree with most of it. One thing I disagree with strongly though is your comment that Solanke is only in the team to score goals, he offers so much more than that in his ability to drop deep and link play. Virtually everything positive that we do involves him in some way.
Solanke’s role is more of a False 9. He drops deep to link up play and his movement is to open up space for an attacker to run in to. Danjuma is doing that really well at the moment. We’ve tried forwards in a similar roles before but never had the movement around him to pull it off effectively
 
#17
Brilliant match report. Agree with virtually all of it. Agree with Cook as MOTM. He’s been great so far this season - has finally been given enough game time to show what he can do. Would be the first name on my team sheet every week.

I have been championing Solanke’s cause since we signed him. He’s a great player. Yes he has an off day like everyone else, but he has so much to his game. He’s a victim of his early career success. He got picked up by a big club too early and has spent too long playing irrelevant football for reserves etc. Be interesting to look back in his season in May. I reckon it’s going to stack up pretty well.

On the other hand, have never been convinced by Rico. He’s only looked remotely up to it on the left of a back three (which I’m hoping we won’t be using too liberally going forwards). Was way off the pace in the PL and was a disaster today. Just seems to lack a defender’s instinct and looks uncomfortable getting forwards. Kelly must have more scuffs and air-kicks than the rest of the team put together, but looks far better at LB than CB. His cross for the first goal was the game-changing moment.

Today was the first time I’ve jumped round the living room screaming, so thanks for that lads.
Rico had one of the best interception rates of any player in Europe playing as a left back for us in the PL. He was way off it today but has generally been defensively excellent for us. Where he really falls short is going forward, his use of the ball is very erratic as is his crossing. He is also not comfortable running with the ball. Does not offer a lot as a left back in games where the onus is on us to attack.
 
#18
Solanke’s role is more of a False 9. He drops deep to link up play and his movement is to open up space for an attacker to run in to. Danjuma is doing that really well at the moment. We’ve tried forwards in a similar roles before but never had the movement around him to pull it off effectively
Absolutely. He is a completely different forward to what we’re used to. He may not get 20 goals a season but you can’t argue with 8 direct goal involvements in 12 games.