Bournemouth travelled to Brentford on the back of a good week in the transfer market. Although the transfer window isn’t open, for a while now Bournemouth have been dealing nonetheless. This week it was revealed that Scott Malone and possibly Steve Cook will both be making their loan deals permanent with £150,000 bids being accepted for both players. But despite their ever-growing squad, the side arrived at Brentford with rookie Alex Parsons being given a place on the bench to make up the numbers. It says a lot about the transfer wheeling and dealing, and the injury problems that Bournemouth have used 27 different players in league games this season, but struggled to get 16 players on the coach today.
Adding to long-term injuries to Partingdon, Byrne and Baudry, players such as Cooper, Molesley struggling for fitness, recent suspension to Harry Arter and injury to Malone, Barrett, Cooper, Symes and Fletcher were all missing today. This left Bradbury shuffling his pack. He stuck with his 4-5-1 formation with Charlie Sheringham spear-heading the attack. Stephane Zubar and Stephen Purches returned after a while without a game and Shaun McDonald returned after 15 weeks without a game.
So the Cherries line-up was as follows:
Francis Zubar Cook Purches
Pugh Gregory MacDonald Daniels
So, a depleted Cherries side arrived at Brentford, along with seven hundred Cherries fans, on the back of a defeat at home to Sheffield United last week. This blip however didn’t hide the fact that their away form was very impressive. Another stat that would have been hanging in many minds however was the 6-0 defeat at Brentford in the JPT not so long ago.
As with many recent away performances, the Cherries started the better, controlling possession and tempo, without creating too much. That changed after 9 minutes when Sheringham was played through by a great flick from Marc Pugh, Sheringham controlled expertly and drilled the ball across the keeper but the keeper guessed correctly and saved.
10 minutes later and Sheringham continued to threaten; he couldn’t quite find a finish to a Daniels cross. The surprisingly bright start was picking up pace and Brentford failed to heed the warnings when Sheringham was once again played through and finished expertly to put the Cherries ahead and deservedly so.
The away side continued to impress but were warned about the home sides danger when Gary Alexander was picked out unmarked at the far post but could only head onto the post. The first 35 minutes of dominance were reminiscent of recent away matches at Wycombe and Huddersfield, both of which they won 1-0. The Cherries gained 63% of possession at one stage of the first half.
The last 10 minutes of the first half slowed up, turned scrappy at time as the home side tried to get level. A blow for Bournemouth came late on in the first period when Sheringham was taken off after a boot to the face, leaving the un-proven Lyle Taylor leading the line. This was a blow for the visitors as Sheringham really was showing he was a threat.
But Taylor showed he wasn’t short on confidence almost straight away when he attempted an acrobatic over-head kick which just flashed wide. But that wasn’t the closest Bournemouth came at the start of the second period after a post was rattled three minutes later. Stephen Purches did well to chase a seemingly lost cause before finding Wes Fogden. The midfielder moved the ball onto Shaun MacDonald whose fine low effort beat Richard Lee in the Brentford goal but hit the post before bouncing to safety. In the next period of play, both Taylor of Bournemouth and Saunders of Brentford were denied by good saves. The game was beginning to level out and the visitors were starting to regret their failure to make Brentford pay during their opening period of dominance.
As the game was becoming increasingly scrappy, Bees boss Uwe Rosler brought on Marcus Bean and Mike Grella, who scored 4 times in the JPT thrashing over Bournemouth back in November. Despite this, the Cherries were the side to pick up and both Wes Fogden and Lyle Taylor curled just wide.
The match was baring increasing resemblance to the away win at Huddersfield recently, a nineteenth minute goal and a lot of impressive attacking play along with professional defending. That day it finished 1-0 to the away side and Brentford were doing all they could to change that.
As the match entered stoppage time the Bees piled on the pressure with numerous crosses into the box but it looked as though the Cherries would hold on for a point when Flahavan produced a fantastic save to deny Donaldson at the back post. Nevertheless, from the resulting throw-in the ball was crossed into the area and Leon Legge headed in with the last meaningful touch of the match.
Another brave and promising away performance and a good result despite the disappointment at the end. This result shows the strength in our squad, even when players such as Malone, Barrett, Arter and Thomas are missing we have managed to get a draw, at a ground we lost 6-0 just a couple of months ago. This result shows our improvement and credentials as possible play-off hopefuls. However it also shows our weakness – goals.
We’ve only scored more than once in a match 6 times this season in the league, which simply isn’t good enough. Although we were without many key players, long periods of dominance such as those we had today, must be partnered with some goals, otherwise these periods of dominance are wasted. This was proven today. On to an away fixture at Yeovil, where a similar performance but more importantly some goals are required.
Darryl Flahavan: 7. Quiet afternoon but a few decent saves
Simon Francis: 8. Defended solidly and linked with Pugh well
Stephane Zubar: 7.Defends dangerously but paid off today, looked solid
Steve Cook: 6. Defended well again, looked a bit tired
Stephen Purches: 6. Shifted over to LB, quiet game
Steven Gregory: 6: Quiet as always but confident in possession
Shaun MacDonald (off 65): 8.Very impressive on return from injury. Please stay fit.
Charlie Daniels: 8. Whipped in some excellent crosses, could play LM more often
Wes Fogden: 6. Quiet again, ran around well, linked play well.
Marc Pugh: 6. Not at his best, Brentford looked to mark him out of the game.
Charlie Sheringham (off 45): 8. Looked dangerous, must be fit for Yeovil
Lyle Taylor (on 45): 6. Didn’t match Sheringham but some good efforts.
Mark Molesley (on 65): 6. Came on when the match was quiet, failed to make an impact.
Lee Bradbury: 8. Giving him credit, for once. Options were limited but many players he brought in (McDonald, Sheringham) impressed. Must keep Sheringham up front for Yeovil if he’s fit.
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