Although 9 goals would have been nice, I’m happy to settle for the two.
Pre-match entertainment was provided by some Timothy Taylor beers in the Bridge Inn and the pleasure of watching Forest score a late winner to beat Derby on the telly.
The well-appointed new stadium has a strangely ‘reverse Tardis’ effect, it looks much bigger on the outside than it does when you get inside. The tannoy announcements seemed to be as much for the benefit of the Rotherham players as for the crowd as a whole string of new faces were introduced. Cherries also fielded a number of changes from the cup match with a return of the ‘first’ team, the only surprise being Lee Camp in goal as Boruc apparently has a neck injury.
As in previous games it took the team a while to settle down, not helped by the wintry conditions – a mixture of bright sun, sleet and snow and even a rainbow (snowbow?).
The first real chance fell to Matt Ritchie, following a well-worked free kick, but it was charged down by the home defence. At the other end Jack Barmby (son of Nicky) shot over the bar but this was one of few chances for the Millers.
It looked like we had gone ahead after 7 minutes when Wilson broke through and slotted the ball past Collin but the referee disallowed it for a push by the Cherries leading scorer. The decision looked very harsh from our, admittedly not ideal, position behind the other goal.
As the visitors began to settle into their trademark passing game the chances started to come. Arter had a shot blocked, then Wilson shot narrowly wide following a great run by Pugh and Pugh himself then had a header just past the post. Camp was forced into action to parry a shot, his only real test of the afternoon.
The funniest moment of the first half came when the linesman flagged for offside following a throw in down the touchline by Daniels. Whilst my Mum probably doesn’t know that you can’t be offside from a throw in, you’d expect an official at this level would do. Thankfully he was ignored by the referee and presumably advised to re‑read the rule book.
It looked as if we were going to have to settle for nil-nil at half time when the 4th official indicated one minute of added time, but Rotherham manager Steve Evans would do well to remember that this is a minimum. A seemingly innocuous free kick midway inside the Millers half was floated in by Charlie Daniels and Tommy Elphick rose to nod it in off the far post. There was a suspicion that the defender had got the last touch but I’m not about to take the credit away from Tommy, particularly as it makes him the 17th different scorer for us in competitive matches this season.
As soon as the restart was taken the whistle went for the break. Steve Evans marched onto the pitch to remonstrate with the ref but was restrained and bundled down the tunnel by several Cherries players. I hope he thanked them for saving him a probable touchline ban. H-T 0-1
The goal came at an ideal time and settled the visitors and they stepped up their passing game in the second half. Brett Pitman particularly impressed closing down the Rotherham defenders at every opportunity and forcing them into hurried clearances, often into touch or straight to the opposition.
Pitman’s persistence paid off when he latched onto a Daniels cross from the left. Although partially blocked by the keeper, and with Pitman himself sitting on the turf with his back to goal, he somehow managed to smuggle the ball to Callum Wilson who smashed it in to the roof of the net to double the lead.
Cherries had loud appeals for a penalty when Wilson went down under a challenge from the goalkeeper when one on one. With a much better view this time I’d say the ref probably got this one right and Wilson made a meal of it.
It didn’t look as though Rotherham were going to get back into the game and you got the impression that the Cherries could have upped their gear if necessary but the chances from here on were limited. Pitman fired a free kick just wide and in the dying minutes, following the introduction of Kermorgant, the Frenchman had a one on one with Collin but failed to beat the keeper.
All in all a ruthlessly efficient performance by Bournemouth against a Rotherham side who will probably get better in the next few weeks when their new players get more acquainted with each other.
Man of the Match: Brett Pitman – Like Katy Price, he has his knockers but he worked his bollsocks off chasing the ball down and won some important headers against the odds.
AFCB: Camp, Francis, Elphick, Cook, Daniels, Ritchie, Arter, Surman, Wilson, Pitman
Subs: Flahavan, O'Kane, Stanislas, Fraser, Gosling (for Wilson, 80), Kermorgant (for Ritchie, 94 mins), Smith (for Pugh, 95 mins)
Clive Loader, Basingstoke