With Harry Redknapp back on the scene it was one the manager was sorely in need of. For the opposition it was good to see James Hayter again, but it was not an afternoon he would have enjoyed.
Yeovil did nothing in this game to suggest that their unaccustomed position on top of the division was anything other than a freak, and but for a continuation of our finishing problems (and some good goalkeeping at times to be fair) this would and should have been a much heavier defeat. It’s hard to look good when your opponents don’t allow you to have the ball, and Bournemouth dominated possession thanks to the work of Hughes, Arter, MacDonald and Fogden in closing down their opponents. After the ridiculous sending off against Preston I wouldn’t have been bothered it we’d seen the last of Arter, but there seems to have been something of a transformation since then. Perhaps competition for places is concentrating his mind a little, or it may be the example of Hughes demonstrating that not giving the ball away quite so often is rather beneficial. With the porous midfield that cost us heavily at Sheffield no longer a problem the defence looked much more assured, and Jalal had one of the easiest clean sheets he will ever keep with only one shot on target from the home team.
Despite dominating possession, Bournemouth were not exactly peppering the Yeovil goal with shots in the first half, long range efforts coming from Fogden and MacDonald. Then, after 35 minutes, McQuoid was fouled about 20 yards out. Perhaps Yeovil had done their homework on our set pieces and were complacently expecting a shot into the wall or the crowd, but in Pugh’s absence Hughes had other plans and placed a precise shot inside the post to the keeper’s right. Stech got fingers to it but couldn’t keep it out.
Having thrown away leads too often already this season Bournemouth sensibly opted to maintain their possession football and set Yeovil the problem of getting hold of the ball, one that they never looked like solving. So poor was the home performance that they made two substitutions before half time, opting to go with three up front, but it just left more space for the Bournemouth midfield to exploit and Yeovil were even more comprehensively outplayed in the second half than the first. Unlike in the first half chances began to materialise with increasing frequency as Yeovil struggled to cope with the mobility of Bournemouth’s midfield and strikers. MacDonald and Fogden both had a shots saved, Grabban hit he side netting, and McQuoid had a shot well saved by the keeper’s legs after another surging Grabban run. Grabban has pace, strength, good technique and takes up intelligent positions. If we can work out some way of adding end product to his game (crossing or finishing, either would do) we will have a very useful player on our hands.
As the half went on the players returning from injury, Hughes, McQuoid and Fogden, were sensibly replaced by Partington, Thomas and Pugh, and the performance seemed to lose some of its fluidity in consequence. Nevertheless chances continued to come, many of them coming Thomas’ way, but his struggles in front of goal continue, and when he did get one on target Stech made a good save. Still, this was never going to be one of those away games where we a re desperately hanging on as the opposition force corner after corner, so lets hope we can save the goals for when they are needed.
Harry Arter, narrowly from Hughes.
AFCB: Jalal, Francis, Addison, Elphick, Cook, Arter, Fogden, MacDonald, McQuoid, Hughes, Grabban
Subs: Flahavan, Zubar, Daniels, Tubbs, Partington (for Hughes, 61 mins), Thomas (for McQuoid, 69 mins), Pugh (for Fogden, 71 mins)
Richie Barker, Leyton