Date: 2 November 2019
The train delays, missed lunch, and total drenching in appalling weather conditions, were all worth it in the end, as the Cherries recorded an historic victory over the once-mighty Manchester United.
My train was an hour late arriving in Bournemouth (speed restrictions caused by inclement weather) which put paid to my lunch plans. Instead I had a pie at the ground, which was very tasty but rather difficult to eat with one’s fingers whilst simultaneously trying to protect a cup of coffee from getting kicked over! For the first fifteen minutes there was torrential rain and I was soaked to the skin; OK it wasn’t helped by the fact that I was sitting in ‘row C’ but in practice the swirling winds ensured that even those at the very back of the stands got a drenching!
The players tried to keep the game going regardless, though the play was somewhat scrappy. There was a flurry of activity around United’s goal around the quarter hour mark – just as the weather conditions were starting to ease up – involving Lerma, Billing and both Wilsons. Then Fraser appeared to be brought down in the box, and we had to wait for VAR to decide it was no penalty.
The one and only goal, a wonder goal, came on the stroke of half-time. Indeed the “one minute added on” announcement came straight after the restart, and turned out to be the shortest minute ever! It was a great cross from Smith that found King, who chested the ball, turned, and shot through the goalie’s legs. 1-0.
The second half was mainly about holding on to that lead. Aké and Steve Cook were phenomenal in making clearance after clearance when it mattered, and although the former got the sponsors’ nod as ‘man of the match’ (with Ramsdale getting the October ‘player of the month’) I’d go for Steve Cook – especially considering the growing understanding between him and Ramsdale. Not to suggest that it was all defence on Bournemouth’s part; we had some goal attempts – the best, on target, coming when Billing passed to Harry Wilson on 75 minutes and his low shot required a brilliant, and very difficult, save from de Gea.
Manchester United were unimpressive; there seemed to be no link between their midfield and their strikers until Lingard came on. When he did, he was jeered by the home fans; but to be fair from that moment on every United attack came through him. The match result may have been very different had he been in the starting line-up. Meanwhile, Eddie only made one substitution – to shore up the defence near the end. He would probably have brought on Surman if he’d been fit, but he wasn’t – so it fell to Lewis Cook to turn the central midfield duo into a trio. Harry Wilson was sacrificed, and forced – under the new rules – to leave the pitch alongside the centre of the East Stand and then trudge round to the bench the long way! King moved out wide, and Callum was left up front on his own for the remainder of the match as we held on for 1-0. Finally, mention must be made of the part played in this victory by the home fans, who were much more vocal than they’d been against Norwich. And some of the banter was brilliant: during the downpour, as the skies turned black, they’d sung “(You’re only) here for the sunshine.” Later it was “(You only) live round the corner” as an alternative way of expressing “We support our local team.” And of course the inevitable “You’re not famous anymore.”
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), Aké (8), Rico (7);
H Wilson (7), Lerma (7), Billing (7), Fraser (7);
C Wilson (6), King (7)
Smith, S Cook, Aké, Rico;
King, L Cook, Lerma, Billing, Fraser;