Aug 26 AFC Bournemouth 3-0 Northampton Town Att: 5250

Last updated : 01 September 2014 By Peter Wicks

On a night of iffy weather, Cargill made his home debut instead of Elphick, with the experience of Harte alongside. Gosling replaced Arter, and Pitman & Rantie came in up front. The other pair of wingmen started also. After some poor seasons, Cobblers looked for some improvement in League & Cup and after the win over Wolves in round 1 must have had some hopes. The away side k.o. towards the North (Steve Fletcher) Stand but barely had a touch for the first 20 minutes. Boscombe came at them with wave after wave of attack, moving the ball smoothly. Pugh’s x-shot went wide, Rantie worked hard and well with pace & trickery. O’Kane had a determined run & shot just wide before putting over a superb long ball to Pugh and hitting the cleared cross against the bar with a 22-yard pile-driver.

However, some midfield indecision allowed Cobblers a corner, and another; a free header went wide. Fraser cut in but shot wide, as did Rantie with a cross-shot. Harte’s in-swinging corner was headed just wide by Cook or Cargill. Gosling was doing a lot of looking and pointing, but he was taking up space – and attention from opponents – that allowed O’Kane to do his stuff. A series of corners saw 2 Cargill shots wide & tipped round. Was Pitman pushed? No. Then (apparently) O’Kane passed inside to the front edge of the area; Gosling from the “D” side-footed it inside the keeper’s left-hand post. 1-0, 21. So _that’s_ his role.

Cargill was calm & assured in a well-protected back-4. Pitman took on 3 defenders and won out. Rantie went down – time for a water break. These 2 didn’t link well with both up front, but Pitman when deeper sent in Rantie several times. Pitman was strolling back from the area, half-way to the Cobblers back-4, when a terrible back-pass put him onside. Easy round the keeper to slot; 2-0, 30. What a real shame for the away outfit, & not the way I’d want my team to beat one from lower down. In response, a Town forward hit it high, wide & ugly. Boscombe found space & each other so much better than Cobblers, and Gosling went well in at inside-left, ahead of the strikers. Gosling & O’Kane swapped roles occasionally, the former looking comfortable when doing so. A sequence of 20-30 home passes (I lost count) ended inconsequentially. Pitman headed over after Smith had run & crossed; Cobblers then did the same. HT: 2-0

After the break, Cobblers pressed more & higher. Not as well-defined a shape as Boscombe but plenty of effort. Midfield head-tennis ended with Cook’s calm clearance and Pitman was clattered. Business as usual from Boscombe as O’Kane sent off Rantie to let Smith run in & win a corner. The keeper saved at his right-hand post from Rantie & Pugh; Boscombe gave a lesson in regaining & retaining the ball. This is perhaps Howe’s secret: doing so limits the opposition’s opportunities. Cargill made a quite superb tackle in the area, but service to the 2 front-men deteriorated; midfield dropped deeper as Cobblers went for some product. However, Cargill was doing really well, not giving ground against front-men of moderate skill but much effort and all arms, knees, legs & shoulders.

Gosling was too slow at one almost critical point, then Fraser was clattered at inside-left about 25 yards out. Pitman & Harte hovered; the former hit it into the wall. Fraser was put through – offside. Rantie’s run was halted summarily but no foul; as he recovered, a water-break. Perhaps he had a real knock, as he & Pugh were replaced on 69 by Wilson & Ritchie, with Fraser going left.

A lovely move with Smith feeding Ritchie who went left across the front of the area, swapped with Fraser then crossed only for Pitman’s side-foot to be saved. The new line-up was more intricate and went more at the away area. Fraser did some good work but fed Ritchie instead of shooting; then he did so, but wide. Then Harte belted a long-ranger at the keeper; Wilson hit the instinctive rebound across & wide. Fraser’s cross was pushed out; Wilson headed straight back and the keeper managed to push it left-handed into the inside of his side netting. 3-0, 79.

Cargill was again superb in the home area, this time regaining the ball to save a corner & passing it out simply. There was better home movement with Wilson up front, then Stanislas came on for Pitman. This meant 4-1-4-1, O’Kane sitting, Gosling & Stanislas “supporting” Wilson. Cobblers continued to put in lots of effort, and Stanislas hit one high. Sponsors made Smith MOTM – he’d had a decent attacking game as usual. Ritchie had a shot deflected wide & Smith was in again to win a corner to complete the night’s entertainment. FT: 3-0.

Expected, more than competent, and good to watch. Gosling looked classy, but played a bit-part, perhaps still easing himself into Eddie’s ways. He needs to impose himself. Cargill has now to be a permanent member of the match-day 18. At the time of writing, the draw had yet to be made for Round 3 of the – oh yes – CAPITAL Cup.

MoM: All did well, particularly Smith & Cargill. Boring I know, but O’Kane did so well it has to be him again; closing down, setting up, going forward, even (I think) the assist.

AFCB:  Camp; Smith, Cook, Cargill, Harte; Fraser, O’Kane, Gosling, Pugh (Ritchie, 69); Pitman (Stanislas, 82), Rantie (Wilson, 69)
Subs (not used): Flahavan, Daniels, Elphick, Kermorgant

Peter Wicks, Bulford


Peter Wicks, Bulford