After a couple of minutes, however, it was the Blades who looked sharper and almost scored courtesy of Barry Robson’s long range shot dipping over Jalal and hitting the bar.
This early scare sparked the Cherries into life with Lewis Grabban forcing George Long to parry his low shot after good work by O’Kane. The Cherries continued to press forward and only Michael Doyle throwing himself at Harry Arter’s fierce shot prevented the Cherries from taking the lead.
Unfortunately, AFCB’s early purple patch was not to last and Sheffield United started to impose themselves. Disaster struck after 20 minutes when the Blades capitalised on some lax defending and took the lead. Jamie Murphy was quick to latch onto a long ball from the back after Marcos Painter was too easily caught out. Murphy’s low drive hit Jalal’s left post only for Murphy to snap up the rebound, dance around a statuesque defence and shoot low into the bottom corner of the net. Time for the Blades to shut up shop.
The Cherries tried to recover from this early setback but found it difficult to get out of their own half. AFCB’s passing game was not helped by a pitch more akin to Bournemouth beach and a whistle-happy referee. In a largely scrappy affair with too many interruptions, emotions started to boil over with players from both sides falling to the ground like the proverbial sack of spuds and accusatory fingers pointed in all directions.
Much to discuss in the bowels of the East Stand at half-time. The second half saw the introduction of Josh McQuoid in place of Marcos Painter with Matt Ritchie moving to left back. Rather predictably Bournemouth dominated possession as Sheffield United seemed content to sit on their lead and let their big centre-halves comfortably deal with anything their diminutive rivals could throw at them.
Chances were few and far between with Grabban failing to take advantage of Arter’s excellent through ball after 51 minutes and O’Kane dribbling his way into the box only to see his cross intercepted by a hefty Blade nine minutes later.
Despite a number of substitutions, Bournemouth continued to huff and puff but could not break United’s house down. Bournemouth’s best chance came after 78 minutes when Harry Maguire almost sliced a Cherries cross into his own net. As this ugly encounter entered into its final stages, Bournemouth continued to lack invention from its flair players and relied too heavily on lumping speculative balls into the box against a well-organised Blades defence.
Given the absence of a Plan B a la George Osborne and our stagnant economy, our winless home record against the Blades continued for at least another season and Bournemouth slumped to sixth place with Tuesday’s match against Coventry City a must-win game if we are to be serious contenders for promotion.
Steve Cook – defensive rock who ensured that the Blades did not make the scoreline even more unbearable
AFCB: Jalal, Francis, Cook, Seabourne, Painter, Ritchie, Arter, O'Kane, Pugh, Grabban, Pitman
Subs: Allsop, Fogden, MacDonald, Hughes, McQuoid (for Painter, HT), Fraser (for Pitman, 68 mins), Tubbs (for Grabban, 73 mins)
Jon Blake, South Shields