MAN OF THE MATCH
MATCH REPORT: SOUTH COAST STALEMATE
Will Tokelo Rantie ever score again? After yesterdays ‘on TV’ performance probably not, but Matt Ritche was straight back into the fray with a Man of The Match performance and a stunning free-kick. And, thankfully, previous MOTM holder Steve Cook recovered in time to line-up alongside the other ex-Brighton boy Tommy Elphick
The much anticipated return of Ritche added a new dimension to the Cherries play and showed how much he has been missed. The home side had something to prove and it didn’t take long for the Cherries to start asserting themselves on the opposition. Brighton were slow out of the blocks and for a change it was AFC Bournemouth who looked wide awake and raring to go. That two hour journey along the coast must have worn them out.
The home side were creating a succession of chance, while the visitors were struggling to produce much more than speculative long range shots. The Seagulls keeper, Kuszczak, kicking was proving to be an effective weapon, for us. It seemed he couldn’t get past the half way line or find a Brighton player. No wonder Man Utd got rid of him. However, it took until the 29th minute for the home side to turn their superiority into a goal. It took another wrestle to the ground, that the referee finally punished to get a free-kick, more about the ref later. Actually, lets not put it off, he was very reluctant to dish out yellow cards or even blow his whistle as the Brighton defensive mode was to manhandle the opposition like they were close friends.
Charlie Daniels looked keen to take control, but thankfully, the worst haircut in the Bournemouth team (and theirs plenty of them) strode up and bamboozled Kuszczak with a beautifully struck curler right into the corner. It was long before the same two combined, this time from the left, with Ritchie getting his boot on a Daniels cross that looked destined to make it two. But, Kuszczak, produced a point blank save that kept the advantage to a single goal. Another Ritchie free-kick, not as good as his earlier attempt, was deflected just past the upright. I was already out of my seat.
With a welcome win just 45 minutes away Brighton finally decided to join in the game and ten minutes later they were level with a superb strike. If we had written this report on the day we wouldn’t have been able to hear ex-Cherry Steve Claridge’s wise words on the defending. Apparently , if Steve Cook had stayed tight he would have blocked the shot. We are not going to criticise a player who only 7 days previously looked like he would be out for weeks, and has been a rock in the centre of defence. We are going put down the goal to a stunning strike that gave little chance to Camp. We say little, we mean no.
We missed the goal at the time, as we were watching some slightly drunk chap, being escorted out of the ground. Asked the bloke sat next to me, he missed it as well. Asked the bloke behind me he missed it as well. Thanks to the FLS for saving the day.
After the goal both teams were looking to add to their tally and its was Brighton who briefly looked the most likely. However, Matt Ritchie was trying his level best to find another killer ball. The ineffective Rantie was taken off in the 67th minute to be replaced by the even more ineffective Wes Thomas. Why is he still at AFC Bournemouth? We know why because nobody wants him.
Rantie may struggle against defenders who quickly work out his ‘move’, but its the ball along the ground to feet that he was crying out for all games. But, who got them? Thomas. Had Rantie had been given the same balls perhaps he might have scored. The strikers were once again our weak point. Pitman played reasonably well, winning balls in the air, but neither of his partners did anything to anticipate. Supa Fletch would have loved to have played in this team, he would have won a host of headers.
If the Cherries could have kept the back door shut and slipped in one of the host of chances they created, they would have gone home with three points and not one. Bring on QPR, a result for the Cherries is waiting.