The match started brightly enough for the Cherries, with spell of pressure in the opening few minutes, but nothing clear cut was generated to test the ColU defence.
If anything, the midfields were more dominant, and in particular Wes Fogden was EVERYWHERE on the pitch, or it certainly seemed like with the amount of closing down, harrying the opposition in to stupid mistakes, excellent runs with the ball (even if they didn't come to anything) and winning headers over an above players that stand head and shoulders above him!
Chances were created, but were not quite on target. Elphick had a glancing go wide; Fogden saw one of his headers he shouldn't have come close to winning land on the roof of the net; also going close, but not close enough were Steve Cook and Brett Pitman. To be fair Cousins in the Colchester goal wasn't overly tested.
At the other end, David James wasn't being tested too much either. Even when Colchester did have possession, going on a charge forward, they seemed to loose their way in the final third, being restricted to either long range efforts or crosses which were not going to find their target in a month of Sundays!
The break through came in the 41st minute when neat interchange play between Fogden and Grabban released Grabban to fire home, with the ball going in by the far post. Was this the spur to greater things? Sadly not!
The half was soured when the match was stopped on the stroke of half time when MacDonald needed lengthy attention, which saw the stretchers and an inflatible splint produced. No idea what happened as attention was diverted with the flow of the game to the other end of the pitch. An awkward twist/turn perhaps? The injury prompted the introduction of Harry Arter in the 2nd minute of first half stoppage time.
The second half saw Colchester play a more prominent role, especially as MacDonald wasn't present to assert his authority in the middle of the pitch. Arter's a decent player, but not in the same mould - with no disrespect. With the balance in midfield slightly more in ColU's favour it allowed our visitors to create more, which in turn meant that James was called in to action. Thankfully the headers/shots that ColU produced were either of a nice height or lacked power to cause too many problems for Cherries shot-stopper.
At the other end, chances were few and far between as the Cherries failed to assert themselves in the same way as we've seen just recently. One chance which should have caused more trouble came in a 4-on-4 break. If only Brett Pitman hadn't been quite to greedy in going for a shot, when perhaps a pass left, or right, would have created a better angle for a shot. As it was the opportunity came and went.
Despite the jinx of the Manager Of The Month award, the 13th game in the unbeaten run, the Cherries managed to claim their first home win against Colchester United since 1999! The result keeps the Cherries 9th, just a couple of points shy of the play-off places.
James - Despite being not involved for long spells, was alert and lively when called upon.
Francis - His usual assured performance.
Elpick/Cook - This is certainly the right central defensive partnership for the Cherries, both assured and comfortable in their roles.
Daniels - Quieter than we've seen of late, but played well today.
Fogden - A fellow Exile likened Foggy to a Yorkshire Terrier in so much as his tenacious play throughout the match, across the entire pitch. Easily my man of the match.
MacDonald - Was sorely missed in the second period of the match following the ankle injury. It's now been confirmed that he'll be out for anything up to 8 weeks.
O'Kane - A close second for my man of the match award. Was lively, assured showing good skill and touches.
Pugh - He might have been carrying an injury, but for the large part you wouldn't have known.
Grabban - Lewis is certainly showing why he was brought to the Club. Certainly linking well with Pitman.
Pitman - Not quite the finished article just yet, but good to see him back playing at Dean Court.
Arter - Was lively and fully involved as only Arter can be! Thankfully didn't see any cards!
McQuoid - Came on towards the end, didn't have a great deal of time to do a great deal, but useful to have some extra pace at the end of the game.
Partington - Nice to see Joe back in action. Didn't do a rgeat deal coming on right at the end of the match.
AFCB: James, Francis, Elphick, Cook, Daniels, Fogden, MacDonald, O'Kane, Pugh, Grabban, Pitman
Subs: Buchel, McDermott, Tubbs, Fletcher, Arter, (for MacDonald, 45+2 mins), McQuoid (for Pitman, 85 mins), Partington (for Fogden, 90 mins)
Andy Burton, Fratton