Boscombe kept the same 11, with Federici having the nod. I was stood fairly low down in the N stand, halfway from goal to the W stand.
Both sides playing football as art installation, movement was pleasing to the eye. Mistakes on both sides offered opportunities; a fortunate defensive ricochet near Stanislas allowed him to take it forward into the area. Williams went across, leaving a gap for King to fill. He took the low cross & tapped it in unmarked for his first goal for the club. 0-1, 10 min! Yay! A message must’ve gone out from the bench; suddenly Jacks played quicker & with more aggression. The away cohort matched this with little problem, & continued to play out of trouble. Soon, Daniels was sent on a long run & passed inside to Arter at inside-left on the edge of the area. The ball reached Ritchie in the area at inside-right; he waited, and waited…, and waited… until Gosling came through the “D” & side-footed the pass first time into the top corner. Wonderful stuff; 0-2, 26 min. Yay & Double-Yay!! Confidence oozed.
Until… A corner came out to Shelvey who cleverly headed forward to Ayew who controlled & turned & back-heeled into the net, taking Federici by surprise. Obviously offside – but the replays that night showed him level. 1-2, 28. Jacks continued to press; backs to the wall for Boscombe yet again. Ayew went into the area (heading for me, it seemed) at inside-left. Francis pursued, Ayew went down. Later replays suggested the lightest possible touch of shin on heel, but actually Ayew had tripped over his own feet. Given the ref’s position, not surprising he awarded the pen. Shelvey had to take the ball assertively from Ayew, & buried it for 2-2 on 39. Rats; this league is so unforgiving. Little more critical action until the break. HT: 2-2
Boscombe dominated the 2nd period. A corner went beyond the far post; Cook hit it true across the 6-yard box but outside the other post when the slightest touch by any player would’ve put it into the net. He & Gosling shot over, & Murray almost had a chance. King had run his socks off. MacDonald had a brief run-out in his home city. The difference between the result & an away win was the dominating Shelvey, the blocking & anticipating of Williams, & the experience & game-reading of Leon Britton in front of the home back-four. Boscombe did indulge in too much tippy-tappy (your correspondent is a fan of tiki-taka, but not in this context), but built confidence & belief. Stanislas &, especially, Gosling, were increasingly looking the part. Arter was busy as always, probing and snapping away. Ritchie & Stanislas both received yellow cards for silly fouls. FT: 2-2
English boxers used to say that to gain a draw in Italy, they needed a knock-out. Seemed like that again here. At least this stopped the rot, but other results over this round of games saw Boscombe slip to 19th. Still, lots of good aspects to this. Next up – Everton @ Dean Court – another good footballing side.
MoM: All had decent games, but it goes to Arter for being at least on a par with any of his midfield oppos.
Boscombe (initial 4-5-1): Federici; Francis, Cook, Distin, Daniels; Ritchie (Smith, 80), Gosling, Surman, Arter (MacDonald, 90), Stanislas; King (Murray, 86)
Unused subs: Allsop, Cargill, Kermorgant, O’Kane
Peter Wicks, Bulford