Aug 23 Blackburn Rovers 3-2 AFC Bournemouth Att: 13900

By Craig Brown
Last updated : 25 August 2014

Manager Eddie Howe named an unchanged starting 11 to the one that faced Nottingham Forrest on Tuesday evening, however Brett Pittman was added to the subs bench.
 
All the media talk during the week leading up to the match was centred on the future of Scotland International Striker Jordan Rhodes and speculation that he was subject to a £12m bid from Hull City. The young Blackburn hot shot lined up in his usual position for The Rovers and made everyone stand up and take notice with a goal on the 13th minute. Blackburn's direct play resulted in a long ball being hit into the box. Just as it looked as though Steve Cook had dealt comfortably with the danger, the ex Brighton Centre Back dallied on the ball for to long, was robbed by Rhodes who swept the ball through the legs of the on-rushing Lee Camp. 1-0 to the hosts and Bournemouth's early hard work had been undone.
 
In fact prior to the opening goal, AFCB looked the better side. The Cherries football was both fast paced and composed and both Yann Kermorgant and Junior Stanislas tested 41 times capped Goalkeeper Paul Robinson from distance.
 
Blackburn scoring seemed to knock all confidence and organisation out of the Cherries and it looked like only a matter of time before the hosts extended their lead and they did exactly on the 21st minute. Some chaotic defending in the 6 yard box result in a Blackburn corner. Craig Conway swung the ball in from the left hand side, only for GRANT HANDLEY to head the ball high into the net from around about 8 yards out.  It was 2 chances and 2 goals for Blackburn and both of them were far too easily.
 
If The Cherries had learned anything from this corner it was to mark the posts and pick up the big men, so it came as a little bit of a surprise when Blackburn extended their lead to 3 only 3 minutes later. On the 24th minute, Tom Cairney played in the same comer aimed for Handley however Tommy Elphick reacted the fasted and managed to clear the cross, however his header landed at the feet of Blackburn Winger Conway at the edge of the box and his powerful shot towards goal ricocheted off RUDY GESTEDE and flew into the empty net. 
 
Bournemouth were now in 6's and 7's at the back and Manager Eddie Howe must have been watching through his fingers as a Gestede's header from 3 yards out flew past the post on the 26th minute and the impressive Rhodes struck the post after a direct run from Conway on the 28th minute.  At this time, it  was looking as though the score line could have been anything as Blackburn were really starting to turn the screw and punish Bournemouth's sloppiness.
 
Cook picked up Bournemouth's only booking of the game on the 40 minute mark as the team were  trying to see the half out and re-group at Half Time.
 
HALF TIME: BLACKBURN 3 - 0 AFCB
 
Whatever was said by the management team at Half Time seemed to work, as The Cherries flew out of the traps in eager fashion once the half was underway. Ryan Fraser was brought on to replace the ineffective Matt Ritchie and the youngster started to run the show for Eddie's men. In fact 3 minutes from the restart Robinson had to pull off a save from the top drawer to deny the Midfielder from bagging Bournmouth's opening goal, and a goal would have certainly been well deserved however nothing came from the resulting corner.
 
Bournemouth were enjoying large spells of play as Blackburn were happy to just keep dropping deeper and trying to hit Bournemouth on the counter attack. Fraser came close again on the 53rd minute. After a jinking run on the right hand side, beating 2 players, his effort just went over the bar, but it certainly had alarm bells ringing with the home support and the Blackburn bench, so much so that they brought on Josh King to try and mark him out of the game.
 
For all the play and possession that Bournemouth were having, the Blackburn Defence was dealing with everything in the final third quite comfortably. Stanislas hit another effort from distance high and wide as Robinson was rarely threatened.
 
If The Cherries were going to turn their Second Half dominance into goals then it was becoming more and more apparent that something was going to have to be changed, and manager Eddie Howe did just that on the 66th minute by brining on Tokelo Rantie for Kermorgant. The South African has divided opinion amongst the Red Army since signing, however on this accession his pace and power gave the Blackburn Defence something else to think about as he continued to drag Handley all over the park.
 
On the 81st minute it was one of those runs that created enough space for Adam Smith to dart in the box with the ball.  The young Bournemouth Right Back was then brought down in the box by Alex Baptiste and BRETT PITMAN, who had only been on the pitch for 5 minutes, hit the resulting penalty high into the Blackburn net to pull a goal back for the Cherries. 3-1. The penalty may have been soft but it was certainly welcome.

Was this going to be nothing more than a consolation goal which would keep those who had the match on a Both Teams To Score coupon happy or was this the break through that would catapult The Cherries onto getting something out of the match?? Only time would tell but with 9 minutes left in a half that we had dominated from start to finish, anything could happen.
 
With that in mind, it came as a complete surprise that Blackburn had the ball in the net from the resulting kick off as David Dunn released Conway, his effort flew past Camp however the far side linesman raised his flag for offside.
 
In the dying minutes of the game The Cherries reduced the deficit to 1 as STEVE COOK made up for his error in the First Half by bulleting a header unchallenged into the Blackburn net. With 3 minutes of time added on, Bournemouth running riot and the score line sitting at 3-2, nobody would say with any conviction that Blackburn were going to end the match with 3 points.
 
In fact, we could have done just that as Tommy Elphick's header from a corner was desperately cleared off the Blackburn line by Baptise and the hosts could sight a huge sigh of relief as the ball was flying towards the Riverside Stand for a Bournemouth throw in when Referee Geoff Eltringham blew the full time whistle.

Man Of The MatchRyan Fraser. His introduction at Half Time changed the swing of play and he gave us something going forward that we were lacking in the First Half and took the game by the scruff of the neck.

AFCB: Camp, Smith, Elphick, Cook, Daniels, Ritchie, O'Kane, Arter, Stanislas, Kermorgant, Wilson
Subs: Flahavan, Harte, Gosling, Cargill, Fraser (for Ritchie, HT), Rantie (for Kermorgant, 66 mins), Pitman (for Stanislas, 74 mins)

Craig Brown, Scotland

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