Graham Pearcey

Graham Pearcey

Cherries 2 Aston Villa 0

Date: 6 August 2022

Fans’ expectations appeared to be low coming into this match, which ultimately made the 2-0 win all the more satisfying.

The players emerged in their new zig-zag strip which I confess I hadn’t liked when I first saw it on the internet, but doesn’t look so bad ‘live’. I was pleased to see our players ‘take the knee’ today, and applauded when they did so. Some of the features of last season that I thought I’d seen the last of, were retained: Nollie still sings ‘Red Army’ on the big screens as the match begins, and the crowd still sing David Brooks’ name on the seventh minute (and will presumably continue to do so until he returns to action). The crowd were in fact in good voice throughout today’s game, whereas the Villa fans were rather quiet.

We lined up with the system we’ve employed throughout the pre-season, with three centre backs and two wing backs. This left no place for Cook, Christie or Anthony, but meant that we did see Pearson, Tavernier and Moore playing from the off. And we couldn’t have had a better start: on just two minutes a Tavernier corner reached Kelly in the box; he headed down to an unmarked Lerma, and the latter slammed the ball through the crowded goal area into the net. 1-0. The game settled down, and both sides had chances, Villa enjoying a particularly purple patch around the half hour mark. But the second goal we so badly needed didn’t come before half time, Smith coming closest (his shot went wide of the target when it would have been easier to score).

Around the hour mark, Villa had another good spell, Kamara’s long shot probably being their best scoring chance, and it was becoming increasingly obvious how vital Travers and Mepham were to our success today. Tavernier was good too, and very fast. (Unfortunately early in the second half he ran a long distance with the ball, bringing the crowd to their feet, but failed to conjure up the necessary shot at the end of it.) Based on the recent Euros I’d feared a large number of substitutions (five out of nine are now allowed), but thankfully that didn’t happen. By the end of the match Parker had made just three substitutions and they were all one-for-one changes with no alteration to the system: Cook for Pearson, Christie for Tavernier, and Stanislas for Solanke.

Our second goal came in the 80th minute: Kelly brilliantly kept the ball in play when it appeared to be running out of the playing area, then crossed it from Bournemouth’s right to an unmarked Moore on the far side of the box. He headed it home for 2-0. Both our goals were assists for Kelly, and both came from set pieces – which is good news for us but bad news for Villa. Villa, to be honest, weren’t great today – and our next three opponents are Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool so our good start to the season may be short-lived! But hey, one game at a time.

Anyway, I went home with a smile on my face even if I did also have seriously sun-burned knees, red from ninety minutes exposed to the sun in the East Stand.

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

Smith, Lerma, Mepham, Kelly, Zemura;
Tavernier, Pearson, Billing, Solanke;

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