Date: 12 December 2015
Two excellent results in a single week and still the pundits are only talking about Chelsea and Manchester United – and not about us.
That was really the only disappointment in an excellent evening when I’d managed to arrive early at the ground, park easily, enjoy the game (more about that in moment), and drive home quickly on almost deserted motorways. Radio 5 were still talking about the game for much of the journey home but it was all about whether Luis van Gaal should go or stay, and a detailed analysis of Manchester United’s problems. All the callers to the radio station, though their opinions differed, were Manchester United supporters wanting to say what was wrong with their team. No-one gave any credit to Bournemouth. And yet – we beat Chelsea a week earlier with the same eleven players, so when will people look at us?
Though Distin, Federici and Pugh were all restored to the bench, the starting eleven lined up exactly as last week. Gosling was perhaps getting forward a little more than away from home; a sort of ‘number 10’ at times; and Ritchie and Stanislas had clearly been urged to get forward too. Boruc had another excellent game (though in fairness both keepers made good saves) while Stanislas and King stole the show again. Arter worked his socks off, though most fans were unaware, until after the match, that he’d had a major bereavement during the week.
King went running up the left wing almost from kick-off (he would have played as a winger when at Manchester United) and it was clear that once again the Cherries were ‘up for it’. A Stanislas free kick led to Gosling winning us a corner. And incredibly, Stanislas scored directly from the corner! While De Gea kept his eye on Gosling, the ball went straight past him into the net. We were 1-0 up in under two minutes! United countered and stormed up to the other end where Boruc pulled off two excellent saves in quick succession, the second at full stretch. Later on, Stanislas almost undid all the good he’d done earlier when he gave the ball away, but fortunately Martial shot wide when it would have been easier for him to score. Then it was Stanislas in action again at the ‘right’ end as he led the ball goalwards in a single-handed effort, but De Gea heroically snatched the ball from his feet before he could shoot. It could have been 2-1 by now; but it was 1-0, and that was good enough.
The equaliser, when it came, was a messy affair. Fellaini had two shots at goal, the second while he was almost on his knees, and somehow through a crowded goalmouth the ball hit the back of the net. This 1-1 score held for the rest of the first half despite shots from Ritchie and (just before half time) Francis.
It was Francis whose excellent work led to our second goal soon after half time. He steamed forward towards the North Stand, and won a corner that Ritchie took. Arter dummied and King shot home, in what looked like a well-rehearsed move. Although this (2-1) was to remain the score, there’d be opportunities for us to go further ahead. Murray came on for King quarter of an hour earlier than last week, in what looked like a tactical switch, and had two gift-wrapped opportunities to score: the first in open play and the second from a corner. Sadly he missed them both, though at least he was in the right place each time. Arter was replaced by O’Kane, who didn’t really seem up to speed but did nothing wrong. The stadium announcer then named Arter as the sponsors’ ‘man of the match’. By the end of the game, and with five minutes added on, we were holding on desperately. When Boruc got the ball we were all shouting to him to ‘time-waste’ a little, even at the cost of a yellow card – which he dutifully did and for which he was rewarded as expected! And then the time was up, and we’d witnessed another great match, another great score, and another great memory to treasure for ever.
The team lined up as follows at the start of the game (I've given the players marks out of ten):
Smith (7), Francis (8), Cook (7), Daniels (7);
Ritchie (7), Arter (9), Surman (7), Gosling (7), Stanislas (8);