March 12 Blackburn Rovers 0-1 AFC Bournemouth Att: 13081 (213 away fans)

Last updated : 17 March 2014 By Jack Parker

However with Blackburn hurting from a first defeat to local rivals Burnley in 35 years it seemed likely Boscombe would suffer a Rovers backlash despite Cherries coming into the game with two consecutive victories and 'unsoiled' sheets.

Pitman dropped to the bench to accomodate Arter in a 5 man midfield with Grabban up front and O'Kane at the back in the now familiar 4-1-4-1 formation. As expected Rovers began quickly hoping to expunge the Burnley defeat with Cherries defence immediately under arial pressure from an early flurry of long throws and corner kicks all resolutely rebuffed by Elphick and Cook in typical unyielding mood.

Elphick then blocked a long range effort and Cook then took the ball off danger man Rhodes as he was about to pull the trigger. Cherries created their first chance with a clinical pass from the ever improving Harte to play in Grabban on goal and a firm shot parried by Robinson in the Blackburn goal. Camp made a routine save from a header before Ritchie announced his presence with a low hard drive pushed around the post by Robinson. Following a weak Rovers claim for a penalty it was Ritchie again surging forward to hit a 25 yard goalbound rocket sadly deflected past the post by a Rovers boot.

With Cherries in the ascendency two excellent chances came in quick succession both from corners. Firstly a firm header by Cook appeared to strike the base of the post (it was hard to see clearly at the opposite end of the ground ) and then Francis hit a 25 yard drive as the ball broke free, only to see his shot tipped over the bar by a leaping Robinson. With the defence solid and the five in midfield weaving delightful patterns across the wide Ewood turf, this was impressive football by a dominant away side with Grabban again working his socks off up front. 0-0 half time with some boo's from the subdued home support.

The second half began in similar fashion with Grabban and Francis linking well to play in Fraser on goal only to be stopped in his tracks just as he was about to shoot. As at Blackpool this was the last action for Fraser with Pugh coming on after 54 mins. Ritchie then had a reasonable penalty appeal turned down in front of the vocal Cherries faithful in the Darwin End who were not slow in telling the ref how they felt about his decision.

Cherries were now arguably better then in the first half playing with confidence and fluidity. Although the advantage in possession was not being translated into goals the defence were playing like they wanted a third clean sheet. From my position high up at the back of the Darwin End our football looked slick and classy with every player making a positive contribution in an impressive away performance.

For some reason my memory rewound to that dreadful Sat afternoon at Accrington in Div 2 when Jimmy Quinn's team were 0-3 down after half an hour prompting anger and disbelief. Now only a few years later the 'disbelief' was of an entirely different type as we witnessed some of the best football played by a Cherries team in many a year - at least away from home.

An injury to Francis then brought a delay and Rovers sought to stem the tide with a double subsitution, bringing on ex-Cherry Warren Feeney and the popular David Dunn. However the Cherries were in no mood to relinquish control and following a well wide Arter shot, suddenly there was Grabban on the edge of the area to strike a firm shot along the ground into the Rovers net, beating Robinson at his near post and seeming to catch him unbalanced and too far forward to make a save. 1-0 to the Cherry Boys and wild celebrations behind the goal.

Within a minute Cherries nearly doubled the lead with Cook in the area striking a pile-driver only for Robinson to redeem himself with a fine save to turn the ball round the post. Rovers were finally stung into action and with Cherries tiring the defence came under increasing pressure from corner kicks and dangerous looking situations. In response Elphick and Cook were stoic and resolute with Francis and Harte standing firm at full back.

Eddie decided (unlike at Blackpool) that fresh legs were needed with Coulibaly on for Ritchie (82) and MacDonald for Arter (86). Cherries survived any further scares and the final whistle brought a second 1-0 away win within 5 days and no goals conceded. More importantly 45 points and safety in the Championship virtually secured with an opportunity for the club to finish in its highest ever league position since 1923 (currently 12th in 1988). Another great team performance Suggested Meeting Placeand perhaps unfair to single out any individual but the man of the match goes to Lewis Grabban for his work rate, skill and excellent winning goal with Captain Elphick worthy of mention in dispatches for another heroic 'Tommie in the Trenches' display.

AFCB: Camp, Francis, Cook, Elphick, Harte, Ritchie, Surman, O'Kane, Arter, Fraser, Grabban
Subs: Allsop, Smith, Pitman, Rantie, Pugh (for Fraser, 54 mins), Coulibaly (for Ritchie, 82 mins), MacDonald (for Arter, 86 mins)