Graham Pearcey

Graham Pearcey

Cherries 3 Cardiff 0

Date: 30 December 2021

For the second time in a week I was able to enjoy watching the Cherries gain three points. And this time it meant we moved four points clear at the top of the Championship.

This was my first time staying overnight at Bournemouth Travelodge for a match –a suggestion from a friend – and it worked really well, especially as I was able to get ‘seasonal’ special offers on both the train journeys and the hotel stay. (The downside of such deals – as I would find out with my next match – is that if a match is postponed you don’t get your money back!)

The team lined up with Anthony back in place of Stanislas and Kelly back in place of Mepham. Which meant that Lloyd was now captain again while Cahill moved one position to the right in the back row. Lerma had a chance to get on the scoresheet after just three minutes, when his shot went over the bar; but two minutes later a shot from Moore was brilliantly saved by Travers. So, still 0-0, but this was promising to be an exciting match. Bournemouth’s first goal when it came was off Christie, who’d received the ball from Solanke. Even though slightly deflected it was going in anyway, and the goal was therefore rightly credited to Christie – his first for the club. Moore once again retaliated almost immediately, his shot being well saved by Travers.

There was still time for one more bit of drama in the first half when, during added time, Bacuna brought down Billing with a two footed tackle at almost waist height. After the game a Cardiff fan asked me whether it should have been a sending off, but when he sees it on TV I’m sure he’ll be in no doubt. It was as clear a red card as you’ll ever see. Unfortunately, the incident also led to a skirmish between several players (reminiscent of the QPR match – and yet again it was in added time!) who got involved unnecessarily, resulting in a few bookings.

Would the extra man help us to increase our lead? Well we made every effort to stretch the game wide and make things difficult for Cardiff, and we had numerous goal scoring opportunities (particularly for Lerma, Solanke and Christie), but we had to wait awhile for the second goal. When in came it was a brilliant one-two between Solanke and Billing, the latter receiving the ball from the former and completely confusing Cardiff defenders by flipping it back to Solanke who scored from close range. Now that a win looked more or less assured, Parker took off Solanke and replaced him in the centre forward position with Jamal Lowe. (An earlier substitution had been Stanislas for Anthony but unfortunately he’d not lasted long before sustaining yet another injury and being replaced by Marcondes.) For good measure Lerma scored our third goal very late on when a Christie corner went from player to player until an unmarked Lerma got the chance to fire home with a forceful shot.

Unfortunately this goes down as an own goal, so Lerma’s still without a goal to his name since April. But he played a huge part in this game, deserving the sponsors’ ‘man of the match’. I was particularly impressed how he took over temporarily as centre back whenever Cahill or Kelly had the chance to press forward. Another player who played well was Lewis Cook, but unfortunately he’s still attempting those diagonal passes which worked well when he used to play in a deeper position but aren’t as useful now he’s playing further forward alongside Billing. And Christie and Travers were no doubt contenders for ‘man of the match’ too. A good performance all round.

The team lined up as follows at the start of the game:

Stacey, Cahill, Kelly, Zemura;
Christie, L Cook, Billing, Anthony;

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