Review by Phil Sawyer (Twitter: @sawyer_phil) AFC Bournemouth brushed Swansea aside at Dean Court with an assured performance, registering back to back home victories for the first time this season. The game was billed as a crunch match between two sides skirting the relegation trap door. It was clear throughout, however, that only the visitors will have such worries as the season heads to a close, since AFCB have surged up the table.
Joshua King had been the hat trick hero in Bournemouth’s dramatic late win against West Ham a week previous. This time around, though, it was his strike partner Benick Afobe who impressed with a man of the match performance. The Congolese forward has not always been an ever-present in Howe’s side. None the less he has endeared himself to fans with his willingness to knuckle down in training and wait for his chance. The fact that he is keeping Jack Wilshere on the bench is testament to how well he has taken that opportunity in recent weeks.
AFCB made a solid start to the game, and looked every bit a team in top form as they quickly settled into the occasion, playing with confidence and guile. Steve Cook was dominant despite the looming muscular threat posed by Fernando Llorente. While Dan Gosling embodied the sides’ high-energy and commitment as he continued his excellent recent run of performances in midfield.
The hosts bagged the opener on 31 mins, and although it was officially recorded as an Alfie Mawson own goal, Afobe took full credit. The pacey forward combined well with Pugh and King, before showing a nice touch to create a chance for a snapshot from the edge of the area. His effort took a heavy deflection on its way in, but the fortuitous nature of the goal couldn’t distract from the fact that Bournemouth deserved their lead as the teams turned in for half time.
The Cherries settled well after half time, comfortably stroking the ball around and preventing Swansea from getting a foothold in the game. The second half began to drift with half chances falling to either side, until Swansea suddenly seized the initiative with 20 minutes to play. Francis cleared well from Llorente, before Cook slid in to stop Routledge in his tracks, and suddenly the Swans looked as if they might grab an unlikely equalizer.
This seemed to spark an instant revival in the hosts, who soon carved open the Swans’ defense for a second time. This time, there was no doubting the goal scorer, as Afobe again showed great footwork after latching onto a cute pass from Josh King. The finisher pinged in off the far post and AFCB had doubled their lead, the Swansea resistance finally broken. The win could have been more emphatic if not for a genuinely superb Fabianski save, with the Polish goalkeeper somehow clawing out a Joshua King header.
AFCB have turned their fortunes around in spectacular style over just three games, and they can look forward to facing some of the division’s leading lights in upcoming fixtures, as well as a chance to go above Southampton and into the top half. Sitting pretty in 11th in the table didn’t seem likely just a few weeks ago, but it is testament to the quality, dedication and spirit of the players and staff at the club, that Bournemouth can now afford to look up the table for the first time in 2017.