Bournemouth 2 - West Bromwich Albion 1
What a cruel game football is. We looked the better team for all of the first half and much of the second, but our chronic inability to defend a lead eventually did us in yet again. We deserved to be two or three up, but you wonder whether even that would have been enough. This was a problem under Pulis and it has continued with Pardew. Opposing teams know they are never out of it. We retreat to our eighteen yard line and it becomes 'shots in'. In the first half when we pushed forward the Cherries were never in it.
For their first goal Phillips was beaten too easily by Ibe, then Foster misjudged it. You can't keep giving away free kicks around the box and we paid the price with their second.
There was no lack of fight today. Yacob gives us a more solid look in midfield. His presence gave Livermore freedom to push forward and he ran hard all game. Nyom gave everything and had some strong runs and crosses, as did Gibbs in the second half. Rondon once again battled to a standstill and laid on our goal with a brave header. Brunt's distribution was disappointing and he was frequently caught in possession.
The ref was rubbish, missing a clear penalty on Rondon and booking Livermore for a clean tackle in the space of three minutes.
Even if we had won today, our survival would still be highly unlikely, but it seems hopeless now.
What a bloody cruel game. Although I’ve accepted relegation this really was a dagger through the heart; a real kick when we are down.
I was a little bemused by the starting lineup & formation. I thought Burke showed enough last week to get a run in the team and we looked short of pace although I never have an issue with Yacob being in as the base of a 5 man midfield.
We started brightly and had a couple of decent moments but there was nothing really in it during the first half.
It was pretty much a classic Pulis away job; we defended deep, took no chances defensively and didn’t overplay but in fairness Nyom & Gibbs showed real desire to get up high and when Bournemouth tried to play from deep we did go and press bravely.
Overall we had good control of the game, snuffed them out completely and only looked a bit short creatively but it was an honest, hardworking, competent, disciplined away performance to be proud of.
The most bizarre moment of the half was Livermore being booked despite being caught late himself and winning a free-kick. I’ve never seen such a decision and although it didn’t cost us the game it did restrict Livermore’s ability to challenge for the rest of the match and up to that point he’d been physically dominant.
2nd half we started really well and seemed to find lots of space a few times on the left for Gibbs.
From one of these Gibbs showed great quality to get the ball over, Rondon nodded it back & JRod seemed to take an age to cushion it and fire home. A good team goal and we were looking comfortable.
The goal sparked Bournemouth into life and they did force us back - again this was very much like a Pulis away performance with the 3-5-2 becoming a 5-3-2.
As we got to 70 minutes I thought the game was primed for Burke’s pace on the counter, probably for JRod and in a free role to chase everything . During the Pulis era I used to think the same but rarely did he ever bring on an outlet when a goal up.
Instead Evans had to come off injured and, from what I could see Phillips went right wingback and Nyom moved to left centre half. I’d definitely have gone 4-5-1 at this point & maybe got McClean and Burke on to balance us up.
I still thought we’d be Ok but moments after the sub Ibe cut in across Phillips and hit a speculative shot. Of all the people to make an error it ended up being our player of the season Foster who was slow to get down and misjudged the bounce to let in a shot he’d save 99/100 times. So, so cruel.
From then on I thought our subs were a bit odd. We really needed pace & width but we got Field & HRK. I have to say though that Field was excellent when he came on - strong, read it so well, picked the right pass always, never gave it away. He ended the game on top of that midfield.
Their winner was typical for us - Hegazi and Dawson got caught high & in a mess, gave the ball away cheaply & we had to concede a free-kick to recover which was duly despatched into the top corner.
At the death Phillips probably should have done more to equalise but his header was cleared off the line and that was that.
As deluded as it sounds there was a marginal chance of survival if we won today and had 2 home games coming up with Chadli & Sturridge as options off the bench. We might have taken it to a 5 game shoot-out.
That’s gone now and I would get Field & Burke into the team for the remaining games with Leko on the bench to look at - we need to prioritise giving minutes to players who will be here.
In fairness to Pardew he was unlucky today but I don’t think his subs were great and I still don’t see any point in him continuing. It hasn’t worked - just move on.
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