Date: 18 August 2018
Cherries’ fans were singing “We’re all going on a European tour” (to the tune of “Yellow Submarine”, learned from the Burnley supporters in May) at the end of this match. Yes this was very premature, but it caught the mood – and made a change from singing “We’re top of the league” (which was true, briefly) and “What a waste of money” (directed at West Ham, who’ve spent obscene amounts of money on new players)!
Eddie selected the winning team from the previous matches – and rightly so – which meant no starting place for Francis nor Lewis Cook. More interestingly, perhaps, he stuck with 4-4-2 despite being away from home. The most notable thing about West Ham’s line-up was the polite applause from Bournemouth fans when Wilshere’s name was read out. We started the game as the most likely team – with a corner kick and a shot from King both within the first five minutes.
Indeed Bournemouth were the stronger team in the opening and closing stages of the first half. There were shots from Wilson and impressive saves from Begovic. But there was also a less convincing middle section of this half, in which West Ham scored from a penalty (quite correctly awarded – against Ake for his challenge on Chicarito – on the advice of the linesman). Begovic went the right way but failed to save it. Half time score: 1-0 to the Hammers.
There were no substitutions at half time, though the fans were calling for Lewis Cook to replace the ineffective Gosling. Brooks, who’d been lively throughout the first half, had a golden opportunity to score early on, but the first Bournemouth goal when it came was a solo effort by Wilson, beating three defenders plus the goalie on the hour mark.
Six minutes later it was 2-1 to us when Fraser took a free kick on the edge of the area; and Steve Cook, who’d been active throughout the match showing off his long throw technique, now displayed another side to his game as he headed home to make the score line 2-1 to us. Francis was subsequently brought on at right back, with Smith moving forward to right midfield and Brooks coming off to a standing ovation. Francis, with his first touch of the ball, then attempted a pass to Wilson which was almost an exact copy of his pass on the previous Saturday that had led to a goal. On the 89th minute Josh King was the victim of a kicking that persuaded Eddie to replace him with Lewis Cook, who now formed a three-man central midfield alongside Gosling and Surman to hold on to our slim lead. Meanwhile, West Ham fans exited in droves long before the final whistle.
Our team looked well balanced throughout the match. Brooks and Fraser didn’t play especially wide, but could move out – and interact with Smith and Daniels respectively – as necessary. The Daniels/Fraser partnership on the left looked particularly promising. Smith and Daniels, though, both got forward a lot. Brooks has some way to go, and some of his passes (plus one weak shot) missed their target, but the extent of his involvement in this match and his apparent total lack of nerves despite his young age and inexperience, makes him my ‘man of the match’ already. He will be such an exciting player to watch as he develops further.
The team lined up as follows at the start of the game (I've given the players marks out of ten):
Smith (7), S Cook (8), Ake (6), Daniels (7);
Brooks (8), Gosling (6), Surman (7), Fraser (7);
King (7), Wilson (8)