Graham Pearcey

Graham Pearcey

Cherries 1 West Ham 1

Date: 12 August 2023

Some promising signs at the start of a new era in the club’s history, but the draw was probably a fair result.

My day didn’t get off to the best of starts, having to stand (in a corridor, amongst bikes and dogs as well as people) on the train all the way from Woking to Southampton. Then on arrival at the game the first two programme sellers had sold out before 2:30 so I joined a long queue for a third. The queue for Gate E was very long too, but in fairness it moved fairly quickly because the new barcode readers are so much better than the old ones.

The team selection looked good, and the starting XI included two players I’d not seen before – both full backs. I was pleased to see both teams ‘take the knee’; this has been more enthusiastically executed since it became an occasional exercise rather than a weekly one. As the game got underway it was clear that the system (4-2-3-1) was not unlike Gary O’Neil’s; and we were poor at all set pieces; but the style of play had changed – more attacking, more exciting. West Ham hit the post on the 16th minute, and David Brooks (who’d scored in three preseason matches) was unlucky with a great shot before half time. Half time: 0-0.

Brooks had another shot early in the second half; but the first goal was an excellent strike from distance by West Ham’s Bowen on 51 minutes. 0-1. And the lead-up to it was unfortunate, involving both teams’ number 8s: Fornals winning the ball off Rothwell, who was far and away our man of the match but for this incident. Indeed, Rothwell tried to make amends through a shot that hit the crossbar in the 65th minute.

Iraola is quicker to employ substitutes than Gary O’Neil: he’d made five before West Ham made any. (A sixth – a goalie – was stripped and waiting on the touchline when Neto was momentarily injured, though I’m not sure he could have come on, as we’d used five subs already.) But, as with O’Neil, the substitutes played in the same position as the player they were replacing with no change of system.

It was one of those substitutes, Semenyo, whose poorly executed ‘shot’ turned into a pass and an opportunity for Solanke to score from close range in the 82nd minute. 1-1. Former Cherries’ player Ings nearly put West Ham ahead again shortly after, but then Bournemouth went into overdrive and looked the most likely to score again during the six minutes of added time. Everyone had feared long periods of added time under the new rules, but referee Peter Bankes only added one minute to the first half and six to the second – which meant I had plenty of time to catch my train. And I even got a seat on this one – just!

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

Aarons, Zabarnyi, Senesi, Kerkez;
Philip, Rothwell;
Brooks, Christie, Anthony;

By the end the line-up was:

Hill, Mepham, Zabarnyi, Kerkez;
Philip, Rothwell;
Semenyo, Solanke, Kluivert;

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