Date: 19 January 2019
Recently I’ve seen good performances with bad results; bad performances with good results; and bad performances with bad results! So it was a treat to witness for once a good performance and a good result!
The fans’ confidence seemed to be at a low ebb prior to this game. There was even a feeling emerging that Eddie may have taken the team as far as he was capable of. The fact that we’d beaten West Ham away earlier in the season meant nothing, because look what happened against Watford! The team line-up, when announced, was reassuring. Wilson (whether previously absent because of injury or because of transfer speculation) was back. Brooks, who hadn’t trained all week, was starting too. Stanislas and Begovic were on the bench. Perhaps the biggest surprise was Boruc starting though, with us now dismissed from all club competitions, this was the only way he was going to get another game this season. He turned out to be an inspired choice; he may have had a quiet game but he seemed to give the other defenders more confidence. He also has an excellent rapport with both the team and the fans, who gave him the warmest of welcomes.
The first half saw us performing at our very best – Brooks, Smith and King all particularly active. But it soon looked like it might turn into one of those games where we do everything but score. Early on, Lerma shot over the bar following a Fraser pass. Then, following a Fraser corner, in a well-worked routine Wilson passed the ball across the goalmouth to Brooks, whose header went wide. And subsequently an Aké header following another Fraser cross actually went into the back of the net, but was disallowed for offside. Twenty minutes gone and we could have been 3-0 up.
Our interest in the game was momentarily put to one side on 31 minutes as the 60 seconds of applause for Jamie Bird were impeccably observed. As far as I could see, every West Ham fan was clapping too. It was good to see our differences cast aside, albeit on a temporary basis; but subsequently the regular banter soon returned, with the home fans telling the away fans where they could stick their bubbles! The last ten minutes of this half were probably the Hammers’ best spell, but the score remained at 0-0.
Eight minutes into the second half the deadlock was broken. West Ham had just missed a golden opportunity to score when Bournemouth broke away fast. Fraser was again involved, and his cross took a deflection but still found Wilson who powered a shot home. His confidence back, Wilson now got more involved with the game and sought out a second goal – but within a minute of seeing a shot hit the post on 72 minutes, he was substituted. Stanislas took over the wide right berth from Brooks, while the ever versatile Brooks took up a position as a twin striker on King’s right-hand side. Unfortunately, though, they played too far apart, such that from now on there seemed to be no-one in the box whenever a good cross came in.
Boruc had continued to have a relatively quiet game, but late on he did get in one vital punch to help us achieve a valued clean sheet. When three minutes’ added time was announced there was still a fear amongst Bournemouth fans that we might give the ball away; whenever one of our players got the ball there were screams for him to take it to the corner flag. But amazingly the last gasp goal, when it came, was for us not for them! Brooks found King, whose simple tap-in was all that was needed to give us a thoroughly deserved 2-0 win. Eddie killed a bit of time by bringing on Daniels for Fraser on the left wing and Mousset for Brooks to the right of King up front. In part, this was perhaps to give the fans chance to applaud the official sponsors’ ‘man of the match’, David Brooks.
The team lined up as follows at the start of the game (I've given the players marks out of ten):
Clyne (8), S Cook (8), Aké (6), A Smith (9);
Brooks (8), Gosling (7), Lerma (7), Fraser (8);
King (8), Wilson (8)