Date: 14 September 2021
What’s not to like about a day when the Cherries began five points clear at the top of the Championship table and ended six points clear?!
Although only three days had passed since the last game, ten out of eleven players retained their starting place, the exception being Pearson who gave way to Christie (with Lerma moving back into a more defensive position). Christie had also evidently taken over from Anthony as our first choice free kick taker, but I wasn’t convinced: the team didn’t seem to understand his intentions and I’d have preferred to see Anthony retain that role.
On Saturday the first eight minutes, up to our first goal, had been played in our own half. Tonight it was the first twelve minutes – and, unlike Barnsley, QPR had numerous goal attempts during that period. But on 12 minutes, with the score at 0-0, Anthony cleverly won the ball off a QPR player and - ignoring requests for passes to team mates - went through and scored himself, for his first home league goal. And later in the half a team effort involving Brooks, Solanke, Anthony and Solanke again, resulted in a very slick goal, so that by half time the score was 2-0 to us. But remembering the recent Blackpool match no Cherries’ supporter was feeling over-confident yet!
And we were right not to take anything for granted because QPR certainly weren’t. Early in the second half Zemura had the chance to make it 3-0. He advanced down the left wing in his usual style, (all our attacks had been down this flank in the first half too,) and was he being a little selfish by trying to shoot at goal from a tight angle I wonder? Anyway, he did win us a corner kick which was wasted when Brooks attempted to take it short. (Later on, Rogers took over as our corner-taker but he played them short too.) And then QPR scored against the run of play when McCallum shot past three Bournemouth players, and from that moment on the match became very tense.
QPR really wanted at least a point. As the half progressed I lost count of how many corner kicks they were awarded, each one a heart-stopping moment for us, and how many brilliant and vital saves Travers made (man of the match?). Parker responded first by bringing on Pearson, so we now had two defensive central midfielders, and later by introducing Mepham so that we had three centre-backs on the pitch. The four minutes of added time felt like an eternity, and QPR even brought their goalie forward for one of their corners – a rare sight so early in the season when there’s only one point at stake. But somehow we held on, and breathed a sigh of relief at the final whistle.
Having had an excellent drive down my trip home was unfortunately a nightmare – two diversions totalling 20 miles so that I arrived home nearly 55 minutes later than I had for the West Brom game.
The team lined up as follows at the start of the game:
Smith, Cahill, Kelly, Zemura;
Brooks, Christie, Billing, Anthony;
Smith, Mepham, Cahill, Kelly, Zemura;
Solanke, Lerma, Pearson, Rogers;