This victory might prove to be a seminal moment for us this season & it certainly felt important after the match. Nine matches unbeaten now & we’re in a run of excellent form – two clean sheets & three wins in a row, fourth in the table & one point off the top. Not a bad situation to be in is it really?
I have a lot of time for Bournemouth, Eddie Howe is a great manager & his team plays neat, attractive football. I don’t think I’ll ever forget seeing them play Watford off the park at Vicarage Road last season. And still lose 6-1.
They’d obviously come with a plan for this game & actually played really well. Negatively but well. It was the usual “parking the bus” that all teams now adopt when coming to the iPro but it was at least an elegant version of it. They passed the ball around neatly & were very disciplined in keeping their shape. Frustrate us, settle for a draw & maybe nick a win if possible, that was clearly the plan. Like so many times under McClaren, the opposition plan didn’t work & our patience, resilience + McClaren’s substitutions prevailed.
Yet again, I failed with my team prediction in Twitter. I’d assumed Whitbread would stay in central defence after being recalled to the side on Saturday. No. Shotton was back in. I prefer Shotton anyway but, as my fellow ST holders (Spicy Kev & Scott Calero) moaned before kick off, we need a settled defence & chopping & changing every week isn’t going to help with consistency. Stick with Shotton from now on, please. He put in a calm, assured performance.
I was also wrong in suggesting Mascarell would start but I guess I was being a bit hopeful. McClaren clearly prefers Eustace at the moment & when he was subbed, it was Hendrick who came on, not young Omar. Real Madrid won’t be keen on one of there up & coming squad players warming the bench for much longer, surely? Eusty had a good game, put in some decent tackles & even found himself the most advanced Derby player in the box on one occasion. However, he surely can’t manage three games in eight days? He also looks increasingly laboured when tracking back & is never far from a booking. If Omar doesn’t start on Saturday against Millwall, then the writing really is on the wall for him.
The first half proceeded just like so many other games we’ve seen at the iPro in the past year. Pressure from the Rams right from the start, some scintillating passing moves, Martin & Hughes at the heart of everything, Bryson fizzing around, Christie & Fozzy raiding down the flanks again & again. And we didn’t score. A tad frustrating. Apart from from a tame effort from Callum Wilson, Bournemouth hadn’t really troubled us either. We did see a new trick at corners, though. Pass it short to Ibe & let him have a go at the defence. It looked dangerous (& was still more effective than the usual innefectual corners we try) but it didn’t produce a goal.
Ibe didn’t come out for the second half due to a stomach bug. Johnny Russell came on instead & was to make another crucial contribution.
The game carried on in the usual fashion until the 70th minute when something quite bizarre occurred. A goal by Wardy after tussling with Daddy’s Boy on the edge of the area. Then.. It’s not a goal. A penalty maybe? No. A free kick on the edge of the area. And Camp sent off. Nobody really knew what was going on. Well, we knew we hadn’t scored, Martin whacking a great free kick against the post & dissatisfaction was rife around the stadium.
At least we were a man up. Bournemouth retreated & let us swarm around the edge of their area. It looked they were going to be successful in frustrating us but a brilliant goal from Hughes, finally finding space in their area, broke the deadlock. He’d had an excellent game, carrying on his form of recent weeks. We strangely seem to lose control after this, Bournemouth threw their negativity aside & went for it. However, another goal for Martin, via some fantastic work from Russell on the left, sealed the win.
So. On to the Millwall game on Saturday. Last season’s defeat by them still hurts & we can expect a more brutal parking of the bus plus timewasting & gamesmanship on an industrial scale. Let’s hope we cope better with it this time. Getting an early goal or two would help.
Up the Rams.