Match report v Wycombe

--- Cherries Wasteful In Victory ---

The day on which I entered my forty fifth year had been a pretty brutal one at work so I was hoping for a nice easy end to the evening watching the Cherries hopefully keep a battling Wycombe at arms length in a routine win. However, deep down, I knew what to expect.

For the first time since taking over, Tindall left the team unchanged from the last match which isn’t a huge surprise given how the previous game played out. On the subs bench there was room for the lesser spotted Joshua King after his multitude of recent issues.

Bournemouth nearly took an early lead when a Stanislas free kicked produced a flicked header at goal low down that former Cherry's keeper Ryan Allsop got down low well to save, giving away a corner in the process.

The first corner of the night ended with S Cook missing his kick after a well worked routine. However, the point to make here is this was the first of many decent corners through the evening. Having yowled repeatedly at our set pieces for some time it was good to see some creativity and accuracy in trying to get them to come off. Hopefully we’ll see more of this in weeks to come.

The game then fell into a pattern of mostly AFCB possession but when Wycombe were set defensively they would often have a single line of six or seven to crowd the Cherries out as opposed to the more regularly seen two banks of players.

I don’t wish to belittle them as they also showed ambition in trying to break in numbers when they could and that often left space in behind for AFCB to try and counterattack to their counterattack. They weren’t trying to bore us into submission with a sole aim of winning a free kick in our half, they did want to try and pressure us defensively when they could and accepted that meant a little more risk at those times. I kind of liked and respected it as it made for a much more interesting game.

The big frustration for AFCB was the lack of final quality on the ball, be it the shot, the pass or the cross. There were a multitude of half chances but little worth writing home about. A time when Junior should have passed but shot, a time when Brooks couldn’t quite weight his cross to Solanke, a time when Lerma couldn’t get his rasping drive on target and so on.

On 32 minutes Junior tried to slip Kelly down the line but didn’t quite get the pass right turning it into a 70/30 for the defender. Kelly gave up without chasing it earning a mouthful from Junior. You know how on MotD when they show a player getting booked in the highlights you know there’s a reason for that? Keep that in mind.

The brightest spot in the half was Adam Smith. He was a driving force from full back, both down the line and, crucially, on the diagonal across the pitch. He caused absolute havoc when he did this as they didn’t know how to cover him and the unusual spaces he was opening up.

Half time stats were 13 shots on goal with 4 of target for the Cherries and 0/0 for Wycombe although they did have a couple of breaks that didn’t quite open up for them. Still, the story of unfulfilled opportunities can be read large there.

No changes at half time and the second half started with more of the same. Solanke declined to throw himself at a Brooks cross when a touch may have turned it in.

Then the warning klaxon sounded. We’ve all seen these games where a team dominates but wastes their chances only for the other team to take their solitary one when it comes. Well, on 51 minutes some sloppy defensive clearing allowed Wycome to ping in a shot from outside the area but the hitherto unneeded Begovic was the equal of it, as he has proven to be many times this season.

Shortly after we saw a booking straight from bizarro-land. Lewis Cook put in an immense and absolutely clean tackle near the halfway line to win the ball ready to push the Cherries into an attack when the ref blew up. Cook was stunned but even more so when Billing, who had been a few yards away, was then booked. Presumably for dissent but it’ll be interesting to see if that is confirmed.

JT switched things up, taking Billing off for Surridge to try and change our attacking lines and the form of our threat. Maybe also mindful of that yellow since it was an odd one.

Merely one minute later on 60 the Cherries got a second shot across the bows when a curled Wycombe effort heading to the far corner of the net was pushed wide by the outstretched Begovic’s fingertips.

This corner turned out to be pivotal as it bounced to the edge of the box near Lewis Cook who’s first touch wasn’t perfect but he was still favourite to get to it again before anyone else. As he flicked it away the onrushing Pattinson threw himself at the ball that was no longer there. In the air and wildly out of control he totally wiped out Cook. Out came the handbags from both sides but it felt like only one outcome was possible. Sure enough, the red came out and Pattinson departed.

We’ll take it but you won’t find many better examples of shooting yourself in the foot when a lot of the hard work has been done.

With the Cherries on the front foot looking for an opening, a heavy cross passed over the whole area and was well kept in play by Brooks who chested it down and found Stanislas inside him. Brooks then darted into the channel where a delightful ball was played through with Junior, in turn, following it up with a run into the middle arriving perfectly for the Brooks cut back from the byline to tap into the net. 1-0 and maybe now the floodgates could open. Maybe.

Four minutes later from a corner routine the ball came to Lewis Cook at the edge of the area and he stepped past a man and fired in a curling shot that seemed to be heading for the far corner until Solanke intercepted it in an effort to chop it into the net and claim the goal himself. However, he only succeeded in knocking it straight into the keeper. Nothing summed up much of our play in this match more than that.

The Cherries then started to sit back more and try and play it out of their half against a Wycombe team now energised to chase everything and encouraged by a series of sloppy attempts that handed them the ball back in potentially dangerous positions. An Akinfenwa header kept out by Begovic the latest of their chances.

A tactical switch from the 4-3-3 to something akin to 3-4-3 didn’t seem to help matters. On the break we looked like we might score every time, until the final ball, but in defence we continued to invite the pressure on to us. A risky tactic against ten men as if they’d snaffled a goal then they’d have then put every man behind the ball.

It wasn’t a nervous all out assault from them but it wasn’t completely comfortable defensively either.

The final moment of note came in the third minute of injury time. Surridge battled for the ball out wide near the halfway line completely isolated against several defenders but he refused to give up and managed to break into the box.

Having done everything all alone when a chance opened up he chose to shoot, which was tipped wide by Allsop, rather than lay it back which caused Junior to give a teammate a mouthful for the second time in the match. Sam didn’t take too kindly too it and grabbed Juniors shirt and it looked about to descend into a farcical situation when they were luckily separated.

So, 1-0 the final score and a match we could have won with ease or could have dropped points in. Sometimes it’s grinding out the result is all that matters and, with the help from Pattinson, we just about managed to do so.
--- Conclusions ---

- It was pretty gruelling in the end but that was a rod we mostly made for our own back. Selfish play from some, poor final balls from others, mistimed runs and some pretty average shooting all combined to leave the door ajar for a late equaliser. Luckily for us it never came.

- Tactically I don’t think there was anything wrong with the original set up in that we were getting into good positions. However, I do question the changes made at 1-0 up. It left us sitting back and hoping to put them under pressure from the break with three up front. It was nearly effective but it also handed the possession initiative to them when they were chasing the game and gave them hope.

- I don’t quite know how to describe the role Adam Smith played tonight but his diagonal runs were awesome. Refs often follow a diagonal path across the pitch so maybe he was a Wing Ref Back. It was great to see!

- A bit of feistiness in the camp can be a good thing but it’s a slight worry when you see a player twice get into arguments with teammates. Recriminations should never be public like that, sort it out behind closed doors.

Having watched the replay I’m a little confused at why Junior got so mouthy with Surridge as it wasn’t like he was in a prime place. He was on the edge of the box with a defender nearby and lots to do so a striker would be perfectly within his rights to shoot rather than pass. This is especially the case given the fact that Stanislas had been selfish from good positions earlier in the game.

Meanwhile, Surridge shouldn’t have grabbed Junior’s shirt. Do that to an opponent and it probably won’t end well for us. Both need to take a look back at that and reflect.

- My second point on that is what came next. Normally I switch off the stream immediately after the final whistle but this time I let it run and watched. I became a little concerned when I saw Billing come onto the pitch and immediately go off with Junior and start yakking away with him. I had a fear this may be a sign of a schism in the camp, especially after reading the tweets from Billing’s father.

Shortly after the camera was cutting across the pitch and you could see Billing now walking alongside and talking with Surridge in an equal way to how he had with Stanislas. I don’t want to put words in his mouth but it looked to me like he went down there and spoke to both individually to try and broker the peace. I really liked what I saw. A lot. Well done Sam Billing.

- A word on our opponents.

There are ways to play the shut and shop game and, in contrast to Rotherham, I have a lot of respect for what Wycombe did out there. There were still a lot of free kicks but it wasn’t a nasty niggly game the way the one against the Millers went. Yes, there was a bad challenge that got a deserved red but that wasn’t indicative of how they approached the whole game.

They committed men forward when attacking. It may not be refined but, to be fair, they gave it a genuine go. They aren’t the kind of team where you’d expect to find most of their matches uploaded to Pulishub. Good luck to them, I hope they stay up. Especially if it’s ahead of the aforementioned lot.

--- Player Ratings ---

Begovic – 7
Saved when he needed to save. Has become a rock at the back for us which is ironic considering Rocky was at the other end for them.

A Smith - 8 and Man of the Match
A player reborn these last few games. Keep this up and I can't see him being dropped. He was everywhere, up and down, left and right and we saw little in the way of the Smith flop. Brilliant.

S Cook - 6
Did his job.

Simpson - 6
A few shaky moments again but also recovered well from mistakes and coped with the match environment well.

Kelly - 6
Not as dynamic as Saturday.

Lerma - 7
A lot of the good stuff came from midfield and he was as much a part of that as the other two.

L Cook (off on 82) - 7
The man upon which the whole formation rests since the whole team pivots around him. Up to standard and more again.

Billing (off on 60) - 7
A few driving runs and seemed to get on the ball a good amount. Continued good recent form. Strange booking. Brilliant after the final whistle with JS and SS.

Brooks (off on 82) - 7
The class creative act on the field. Looked good in patches but still didn't dominate the game.

Solanke (off on 82) - 6
Worked hard but it wasn't his night. You can't be the main man in every match and no major complaints.

Stanislas - 6
This is hard as he scored and was around a lot of our attacking play but I don't like the attitude in berating teammates publicly like that. He was also wasteful at times, maybe more so that those about which he was complaining.

Surridge (on from 60) - 7
Added a different threat and battled like a Trojan. Needs to cool the temper a little though.

Gosling (on from 82), Rico (on from 82) and King (on from 82)
Not much to say beyond I didn't think I'd see King in an AFCB shirt again. Hard to get too excited about it though when the window opens in a couple of games time.

Overall Grade: B
We needed the win. We got the win. We've slipped up in these games before this season. We didn't slip up this time.

We could have scored more but for some wasteful play pretty much across the board. No one single culprit and so hopefully the team will have a good debrief about it. However, three points is three points.

Meanwhile, hopefully JT learnt something as well since inviting the ten men to pressure us like that could cost us on another day.

At the end of all that, we’re top of the table. Not a bad way to start my next 31,536,000 seconds.
Thank you so much for your thorough report. Having done some myself I know a lot of effort goes into them! Not a relaxing match I agree but then again 3 points! I wonder if Stan was gesticulating with Sam to take the ball to the corner rather than pulling it back? Stan certainly seemed on edge tonight. Will be great to welcome Danjuma back soon, I feel as though he provides us with something different. Bego’s saves are also becoming crucial for us, was convinced that second half effort was in. Onwards to Luton!


Fans' Favourite
Happy Birthday Kirsikka.......great match report as usual....agree with most of it....Smithy was superb right enough ....although Stan deserves more than a 6.....also thought Simpson was very impressive .....
Agree Simpson did enough to convince me he is worthy of being part of a rotation rather than be back up.

Stan is going to divide opinion. He did track back and did more off the ball, which would support higher than 6, however he can be wasteful and is often responsible for taking tempo out of game which impacts other players. With 5 subs, would prefer to see him exhausted after 60-75 minutes rather than pacing himself.

Not convinced by Smith, okay going forward against team conceding space but we looked vulnerable when they attacked him, especially Horgan, even when he gets support, he can't close down.
Good report. I had Bego as man of the match but smithy has certainly got his form back too.

Interesting that Phil Bill has been joking about 'the incident' on twitter, which I'm taking as a good sign that there's not too much issue there.

No wonder he thinks he can stroll around sometimes if he thinks that was a great win but in the same breadth also not a pretty win.

Maybe if he had sprinted back and made that tackle, rather than pick up a card I might think he understands what's needed. Bet he thinks he played well enough to keep his place.
Getting 3 pts was all that mattered in the end.most teams will take 3pts from Wycombe but not all.we didn't slip up and Watford Brentford Bristol city all dropped points. Hopefully reading Swansea Norwich a drop some tonite
Nice balanced report again kirsikka, thanks and happy birthday belatedly.
I particularly agree that Wycombe deserve some credit. They seem to pose a different problem to most other teams who don't fancy their chances going into a game. They seem to be very solid defensively but always looking to break quickly when they get the ball. In a way they are more like a decent PL team which just lacks the quality to make their counterattacks count. So I can understand how all of the top teams have struggled to beat them so far. They pose a different kind of challenge compared to most bottom of the table opposition. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see them stay up this season. They just need some more of those half-chances they create to actually go in.
Anyway, as you say, their approach made the game much more entertaining than I thought it was going to be, so credit to them for that. We've got Stoke coming up soon so......:censored: