Saturday, 6 August 2011

Cherry juice

Every so often someone sends me an E-mail advocating the merits of cherry juice as a remedy for gout (which I have never had). Bournemouth's players looked like cherry juice at 5 p.m. this afternoon as they slumped on the pitch after an emphatic season opening 3-0 defeat by Charlton.

The Times had us tipped as champions and although it's very early days no one can deny that it's a good start and puts the Addicks top of the league in the tentative table.

It wasn't perfect but there was some fluent passing play at least some of the time and a judicious use of the long ball. We still go too deep under pressure and we looked a bit vulnerable defensively to counter attacks. But the corners were an improvement on last season.

The two goals scored from open play by Dale Stephens and Waggy were screamers and Johnnie Jackson scored his penalty with calm and authoritative aplomb as one expect from the skipper.

Bournemouth started the game with some agricultural clearances which suggested that this was not the best team we would face this season, but not the worst either. Solly conceded a rather unnecessary corner but fortunately it was unproductive.

A nasty foul on Hollands did not earn the yellow card it deserved from the raher self-important referee. Good work by Hayes led to a Charlton corner, but Morrison, always busy in the box on these occasions, headed the ball over.

A corner taken by Jackson was played back in by the alert Stephens but Wright-Phillips put the ball just wide. Hesitancy by Wagstaff nearly caused problems, but then a good long ball released Wright-Phillips. However, he was not able to get round the keeper. At this stage of the game one saw some good ideas but they were not quite coming off.

Another corner was conceded unnecessarily, something which needs to be worked on. There was then panic stations in the defence because Elliot failed to come for the ball when he should have done.

Solly made a good run and passed to Wright-Phillips who flicked the ball well to Stephens enabling him to put in a rocket shot that left the keeper with no chance. Quite wisely, Charlton then slowed the game down and kept possession to avoid the kind of early equaliser which happened too often last season. However, possibly they kept this up for too long, leading to a rather quiet end to the half.

Bournemouth's Byrne, on loan from Spurs, was looking lively and a bit of a menace and was given far too much space throughout the match. Elliot risked danger by hesitating again. Charm merchant Arter was finally given the yellow card he deserved. Some fans thought we should not have let him go, but I was not convinced by his petulance, even if he is Scott Parker's cousin.

Jackson put in an opportunistic shot from distance which tested the keeper and led to a Charlton corner. Stephens provided a good corner with some real pace on it but it was unproductive.

Charlton prospect Danny Ings received a yellow card for a foul. I was not that impressed by his contribution. Wagstaff won Charlton a corner. Elliot had to make a good save in the minute added on.

Half time: Addicks 1, Cherries 0

Bournemouth took off Baudry and brought on Taylor. The Cherries threatened with a couple of early corners, but then Solly won one for Charlton taken by Jackson. Stephens laid the ball off to Wagstaff who put in a screamer of a shot to make it 2-0.

A Bournemouth free kick flashed across the front of the Charlton goal and then the Addicks gave the ball away in midfield. They mounted a good counter attack, but Stephens should have tried a shot rather than playing the ball across the field. Another Bournemouth attack ended in an offside decision.

Elliot caught a Bournemouth corner. Good play by Hayes saw him put in a shot at a difficult angle and he was frustrated when it went wide. A Charlton corner was unproductive, but at least we were winning them. Elliot saved from play following a Cherries corner.

Charlton were awarded a free kick for holding at last, but Jackson's effort went over. Wright-Phillips was then brought down for the penalty which Jackson converted to make it 3-0.

Elliot made a good save. Taylor received a yellow card. Good work by Wagstaff was unproductive when Jackson overhit the ball. Wright-Phillips was just wide with a good effort from distance.

Hayes was replaced by Benson and shortly afterwards Bradley Pritchard made his competitive debut in place of Wagstaff. Wright-Phillips advanced well, but Jackson was unable to steer the ball. Pritchard displayed good control of the ball and then good defensive work. The three minutes added on were dominated by Charlton.

A clean sheet and no bookings, I feel good about this result. But next Saturday we face a top of the table clash away at Notts County.

Match analysis

Ivy the Terrible has awarded Dale Stephens his first ever Silver Bone for a committed and authoritative performance throughout. Elliot deserves credit for a clean sheet and some good saves, although the pressure he was under was rather intermittent. However, he is sometimes overcome by hesitancy and fails to command his area which suggests that he should not be first choice keeper even if he stays (Hamer having injured his thumb in training). The two new centre backs Taylor and Morrison displayed competent efficiency in their tasks, Taylor possibly showing more subtlety in his play. Wiggins was continually jeered by the away support, but apart from the odd mistake carried out his tasks well. Solly had some excellent moments, particularly in terms of contributing to attacks, but looked less secure in defence. Hollands was not that prominent, but did what he had to do with a commendable quiet efficiency. Jackson showed some nice touches and had a number of speculative efforts on goal which were worth the effort. Wagstaff did lose the ball a few times, possibly through hesitancy or trying to be too clever, but this should not detract from an impressive overall performance in attack. Hayes attracted some pre-season criticism, but seemed fully involved to me and showed some real guile. Wright-Phillips was relatively quiet and does expect the ball to be played to him but he did set up the penalty claim well. Benson had ten minutes to show what he could do which was pretty much what we saw last season, i.e., not that much but not without some skill. One time TNT Dynamos player Bradley Pritchard had a cameo in which he showed that he is a player with real promise. Incidentally, he must be the most educated player ever to feature for Charlton with five years at university, culminating in a Masters level qualification in sport science which surely trumps Iain Dowie's degree in rocket science. Doherty came on to help us defend our 3-0 lead and did what he was asked to do competently enough.

The Hiss of the Match was awarded by rescue cat Fleur who joined Juneau the Soccer Cat's squad in the close season and the former Southam United fan gave the award to the East Stand lino for some bizarre second half decisions.


Anonymous said...

The most positive thing that came out of today's game was the balance of the team. It was a good performance to open the season and it was great to see all four of the midfield looking to attack whenever they had the ball.

Anonymous said...

Seems a bit early but a title decider next week at Meadow Lane.

Thought Stephens was a class above, although he drifted out the game. The two centre backs appeared to be solid and a big danger in the Opponents box.

Early days but a pleasure to see some decent football. I'm finding it difficult to accept the Cherries had 61% of the ball.

David said...

Rather faint praise, Wyn? The post-match view in the pub was much more positive, with everyone commenting positively on the hard work put in by all the players.

This was a performance, and a result, to get excited about. Early days, of course, but plenty of ability on show that Chrissie should be able to work with.

Wyn Grant said...

It was a good and promising performance, but it was just one match and it's a long campaign with a testing game next Saturday. There are still areas to work on, but there always are. I certainly felt positive about it.