With Kermorgant and Pitman leading the line, lack of pace up front would surely be a problem, and indeed we failed to gain the initiative in a pretty even first quarter of an hour. Gradually, however, we started to look more threatening with Cook and Ritchie going close.
The best chance fell to Kermorgant who headed Francis’ cross over the bar – a chance he would surely have taken on last season’s form.
But a goal was coming, and a few minutes later Cook was on hand at the far post to nod in Surman’s chipped cross with 22 minutes gone.
Cherries were well in the ascendancy now with Surman outstanding in midfield, and 3 minutes later it was no surprise when Pitman latched onto Ritchie’s clever through ball to make it 2-0.
After a great run, Francis hit the side netting as the home side looked likely to go further ahead.
In cruise control now, the hosts ended the half in fine style, with Millwall having rarely got anywhere near the home goal in the first 45 minutes.
More of the same in the second period? We hoped so, but it was not to be. Millwall still looked unlikely to pose a serious threat, so perhaps we took our foot off the gas, the players possibly thinking it was job done already. Another factor was the introduction of Ricardo Fuller who became increasingly influential as the game wore on.
A combination of Fuller’s prompting and an aerial bombardment started to unnerve the Cherries’ defence, while at the other end the chances dried up without Wilson there to stretch the Lions’ back line.
Arter was somewhat surprisingly replaced by O’Kane on 65 minutes (a tactical move apparently).
However, it looked like we might just grind out a result until Upson headed home what looked like a routine cross from Easter with a quarter of an hour remaining.
The visitors had their tails up now and we had a beleaguered look about us.
But we should have put the game to bed shortly afterwards when Pitman and Stanislas (replacing Pugh) found themselves two-on-one with Forde. However, Stanislas made the schoolboy error of getting in front of the ball as Pitman teed him up and the goal was disallowed.
The moments of panic in the Cherries’ defence increased as the game drew to a close and it was no surprise when, with 2 minutes to go, Gueye drilled home after the Cherries abjectly failed to clear their lines.
A disappointing result stemming from an inexplicably poor second half performance. We got what we deserved, I’m afraid. Eddie usually gets it right, but his substitutions seemed ill-judged today. And Steve Cook was honest enough to admit that “they wanted it more than us”.
Let’s hope lessons have been learned.
Man of the Match: Matt Ritchie
AFCB: Boruc, Francis, Elphick, Cook, Daniels, Ritchie, Surman, Arter, Pugh, Kermogant, Pitman
Subs: Camp, Gosling, Smith, Cargill, Stanislas (for Pugh, 61 mins), O'Kane (for Arter, 65 mins), Fraser (for Kermorgant, 78 mins)
Ellis Griffin, Chertsey