Review by Phil Sawyer (Twitter: @sawyer_phil)
AFC Bournemouth earned an important 3 points at Dean Court, cruising to an assured 3-0 victory against Norwich. This was an outstanding display which saw the Cherries dominate the game from start to finish, lifting them above the Canaries in the battle for Premier League survival.
Charlie Daniels was the man of the match, and from start to finish the man in the number 11 shirt showed why he’s so highly thought of at the South Coast club. Daniels was Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth team personified – quick and direct while accurate and assured in possession – and the left backs’ classy performance was crucial to an excellent home win.
The Cherries got off to their customary explosive start. Fan favourite Marc Pugh twisted and turned before delivering an inch perfect cross to Dan Gosling, who powered his header home from close range. Bournemouth, perhaps with the midweek 1-3 turnaround against West Ham in mind, pushed for a second, and it was only some dubious refereeing that prevented them from doubling their lead before the interval.
Daniels was hauled down by Russel Martin following a typically marauding raid down the left wing, and the referee’s refusal to give the penalty was bizarre. It went from bad to worse for the man in the middle, Robert Madley, when he bottled the next big decision in the match. The ever threatening Benik Afobe was slipped through on goal by a sumptuous Harry Arter pass, and when Declan Rudd came flying out of the Norwich goal to scythe him down, surely all 11,065 fans packed into Dean Court expected to see the red card raised. Rudd survived, picking up a yellow only, and the home support was again left mystified. Norwich could count themselves extremely fortunate to be only facing a one goal deficit at the break, and even to have 11 players to bring back onto the field for the second half.
After the restart, Bournemouth continued to press, hunting Norwich with the same attacking intent they showed throughout the first half. Pugh got in behind the Canaries defence, Odjidja was only able to halt his progress with a clumsy pull, and this time Mr. Madely found his whistle and pointed to the spot. Daniels stepped up, staggered his approach, and smashed the penalty home via the post. It was no more than the home side deserved.
It continued to be one way traffic and a toothless Norwich side only fashioned one chance of note against a solid Cherries back line, with Mbokana horribly misplacing his attempted lob. The Bournemouth fans delighted in reminding their counterparts that Lewis Grabban, recently transferred between the two sides, buries chances like that as a matter of course.
Another moment of magic followed from Daniels. Picking the ball up in the Bournemouth half, he rampaged forward, using a clever nutmeg and sheer pace to leave two hapless Canaries in his wake. Once in the final third, still running at pace, the full back got his head up and scanned for a team mate. Benik Afobe got himself in a decent position, and Daniels showed great composure to pick him out, six yards from goal, allowing Bournemouth’s record signing to smash home his first goal in red and black. Cue pandemonium in the stands.
In truth, there was only ever one side in the game, and Bournemouth fully deserved the three points. Howe’s side has a superb track record of pulling out huge results when the pressure is really on, and this was again the case in front of their adoring fans. With a little help from Charlie Daniels.
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