Graham Pearcey

Graham Pearcey

Cherries 0 Burnley 1

Date: 21 December 2019

This was about as dreadful an afternoon as it could possibly be. A boring game with no real skill shown by either side; teeming rain ensuring everyone got drenched to the skin wherever they were sitting; and a very, very late goal from the opposition being the last straw.

There had been questions about the fitness of Joshua King after his injury the previous week (even though he’d come back onto the pitch looking fully recovered after the final whistle in that match), and sure enough there seemed to be a late decision – because for once the team line-up displayed on the screens (with Solanke starting up front) was different from the one read out by the matchday announcer (with King up front). Anyway, the announcement was correct so we had an unchanged side from Chelsea. This was good in a way, but a bit defensive with a single striker and Lerma effectively acting as a sixth defender.

As already noted, Bournemouth looked poor throughout the first half. Lewis Cook was off-form, King kept drifting wide (which you can’t do when you’re the lone striker); and all this time Burnley were playing a really dirty game and getting away with it. Francis (when Ashley Barnes’ boot collided with his face only seven minutes into the game), and later Fraser, were both victims of serious fouls that went unpunished. Each had at least three minutes on the ground being treated for their injuries but for some reason the referee decided there’d only be a total of three minutes added to the half. Perhaps he was just showing pity on the crowd – because the rain had got so heavy by the end of the half that we were all now soaked!

I’ve never seen the concourse under the East Stand so congested at half time – but I guess people were just seeking shelter. Eventually, though, we had to come back out to watch the second half – and it was good to note that Callum Wilson was now on the pitch. This didn’t result in a change of system, though: King simply moved to the wide right position vacated by Lewis Cook. Our play improved somewhat as Wilson certainly put in a shift; and there was a flurry of activity around Burnley’s goal for one five or ten minute spell during the half, when it looked like we might score. But the nearest we came was a Mepham header off a corner kick, and that went wide.

Stanislas was on the bench, and many hoped he’d be introduced into the game at some point (especially as he used to play for Burnley), but no further Bournemouth substitutions were made at all until the 83rd minute. And then it was Solanke for Billing. The most interesting thing about this was that we were about to take a corner, which might be a time when Billing’s height could be advantageous, but Eddie went ahead with the substitution anyway.

Only one minute of normal time remained on the clock when a Burnley cross found Rodriguez and he headed home for 0-1. There was a VAR check (for handball) but VAR wasn’t on our side this week. The goal stood. And it didn’t seem likely we’d ever equalise, so everyone was relieved to hear the final whistle and to escape from the stadium – even though we still had to negotiate the floods in the car park. For the sake of balance perhaps I should mention that my trains were on time, and for the first time this season I didn’t need to claim ‘delay repay’. But that’s about the only good thing I can think of to say about this day!

The team lined up as follows at the start of the game (I've given the players marks out of ten):

Ramsdale (5);
Stacey (5), Francis (6), Mepham (5), Rico (5);
Lerma (7);
L Cook (4), Billing (5), Gosling (5), Fraser (6);
King (5)

By the end the line-up was:

Stacey, Francis, Mepham, Rico;
Fraser, Lerma, Gosling, King;
C Wilson, Solanke

My 'man of the match': Jefferson Lerma.

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