Decent crowd given the time and weather – blustery with rain. A chance for Rantie to pot a few (a much-trailed pairing with Pitman) & regain confidence, especially with Thomas & Tubbs gone. Cherries k.o. towards the North Stand; an early mistake let in Rantie and pinball followed with blocked shots until Pugh missed weakly at the far post. O’Kane was winning the ball in deep midfield and sent Rantie clear on the left. He passed back poorly again, but the ball came to Ritchie on the left in the area. He chipped across for Pitman beyond the far post to bury it diagonally. 1-0, 5. A good start, and Cherries showed urgency but sloppiness crept in. A Daniels pile-driver was deflected. At this point, Brewers were game but living off scraps. Then the no.4 was through, Allsop having to block well – a warning.
Rantie did his stuff out wide, & chipped well, then Brewers had a good move down the left but the low cross was unconverted. Arter tackled back well; Daniels was played in on the left and pulled it back for Rantie whose prod went well wide of the far post. Ritchie fought for the ball and won it, showing the home side wasn’t going to be complacent. A shot was deflected up; Daniels put in another pile-driver that would’ve taken out the net. When in defensive mode, Brewers attempted 2 banks of 4, but the forward part of that was a little loose. Rantie put in a tremendous shot from the left, palmed away. Rain fell steadily, swirling in the wind. Rantie was through again, but the keeper was alert.
Pitman took a free at the left end of the “D” but the process ended with a throw. That led to a fierce shot by Pugh that thudded into the turf and bounced over the bar. Then for at least the 3rd time this season, Pitman was lazy in midfield with concession a result. Brewers advanced, and suddenly Allsop was throwing himself in every direction at once as the shot – seemingly deflected – went in. 1-1, 35. In reply, Daniels made a superb run and Pitman tried using the outside of his foot, the effort palmed away. Even so, Cherries still didn’t concentrate enough on the little things, although Arter hit from 22 yards – deflected and saved. Rantie shot from the same distance at the keeper; Daniels ditto after a corner. Elphick was still up for that corner and prodded it over the line. 2-1, 45, to some relief. H-T: 2-1.
Second verse, same as the first, frankly. The service to Ritchie was still patchy and often anticipated. After a good run, Francis crossed low and Pugh hit the post. Arter was not having enough influence on the game; he seems to have passed that torch to O’Kane. Ritchie was yellowed for an unfortunate foul, and Brewers shot wide on an occasional foray. Rantie was still quick and willing, but needed the ball into channels more and to him less. Fraser came on for Ritchie on 55; Rantie fed Pitman who went clear but the effort was tipped for a corner. The keeper kicked straight to Rantie at inside-right – who slipped. Others did the same the rest of the game as the pitch became greasy.
Fraser put in a good run but Pitman skewed wide. Cherries kept the away side under pressure, who responded with putting it twice across the home goal. An away corner led to Rantie taking the ball 80-odd yards – but he passed to the keeper, well ahead of Pitman. Pugh had been looking miserable for some time, so Surman replaced him on 72 and was tidy without – as usual – ripping up any trees. Francis worked well in winning the ball in the 3rd quarter of the pitch, but still the home side showed lapses of concentration too often. Daniels had another run – and a toe-poke. Cherries seemed to be playing 2-2-4-2.
Rantie was twice offside, and came off in favour of Grabban on 83. Suddenly everything looked organised and competent up front. Elphick put in a flying header to clear; Grabban combined with Pitman to put Fraser in the open. He did what Rantie might’ve done (but didn’t) – approach the keeper then a little chip. Well-taken. 3-1, 86. The cheering was mainly relief that at last we knew we’d be home to Liverpool. Then Arter went in at inside-left to the goal-line and was felled. Pitman dispatched the penalty. 4-1. 88. Grabban hit the post from the edge of the area, having made a big difference. Pitman hit a 25-yard free over. F-T: 4-1.
Cherries made hard work of this; Brewers did not deserve that score-line, and with better quality up top & better service from midfield should be OK in Div.3 presuming their promotion this season. With the moolah from this win & the next round, plus the release of Addison, Thomas & Tubbs (& Fogden who goes to Pompey with a big thank-you for his efforts), that should mean enough funds are available for that big striker. Negredo looks useful…
But let’s not be under any illusions about the next round. Coutinho, Gerrard, Sterling, Sturridge, Suarez – if any 3 (or even 2) from those 5 actually play they will give Cherries massive problems, and punish unmercifully those lapses in concentration. Yes, upsets are always possible, but one hopes players & management will use Round 4 as a learning experience as much as enjoying the tie.
Both full-backs attacked well. Allsop, Elphick & Cook were solid. Sponsors gave the award to O’Kane, texters to Francis. As he was the fulcrum of the team, I have to agree for once with the former so it goes to O’Kane.
AFCB: Allsop; Francis, Elphick, Cook, Daniels; Ritchie, Arter, O’Kane, Pugh; Pitman, Rantie
Subs: Jalal, Harte, McQuoid, Ward, Fraser (for Ritchie, 55), Surman (for Pugh, 72), Grabban (for Rantie, 83)
Peter Wicks, Bulford