• Bournemouth v Albion, 01.11.2014

    I'll forewarn that this will probably not be the most objective of reports. You see I don't like Eddie Howe. More accurately, I really, really can't abide the perma-grinning, unspeakably smug little Ken doll. Which all serves to make defeat to his side, particularly irritating.

    In a break with recent tradition though, Brighton conspired to bring this one wholly onto themselves - no repeat of the shameful penalty decisions of the Withdean and Amex encounters, to blame this one on - and that, despite the incredible fact, that with Bournemouth fan Simon Hooper ('Hoops' to his Boscombe pals) obviously unavailable, the FA saw fit to appoint in his stead Mr Keith Stroud, of, um, Bournemouth.

    On a positive note, the Albion were actually not bad today. They undeniably matched a side that now sit (smugly) in second place, and were undone, not by poor selections, or unfathomable tactics, but purely by individual aberrations.

    In an interesting change, Hyypia chose to play Aaron Hughes at right back, in place of the swashbuckling Inigo Calderon - presumably with instructions for the Northern Ireland man to put an emphasis on actual defending. Unfortunately this radical experiment lasted a matter of minutes, before Hughes turned an ankle winning a header. Calde took his place, and immediately dashed off into the attacking half!

    The early exchanges were even - a low Gardner free kick very nearly turned into his own net by former Seagull Tommy Elphick - and the Seagulls were settling comfortably into the game, when they gifted their hosts an early lead. Skipper Gordon Greer, came perilously close to scoring a crucial own goal last week, but David Stockdale pulled off a sensational save. This time Greer would not be denied. Facing his own goal six yards out, but well placed to deal with a cross, he stooped, to direct a header past new loan keeper Ali Al-Habsi.

    An Albion equaliser was not long coming, however, and was beautifully crafted. Greer passed out of defence, to Holla via Forster-Caskey. The Dutch midfielder slipped a ball through to Joao Teixeira in a pocket of space. The Liverpool loanee, spun and looked up, then spotting the run of Adrian Colunga, rolled in a perfectly weighted pass, through the defence, for the former Getafe striker to round Artur Boruc, and finish calmly.

    Sadly, parity was short-lived, and again the Albion defence were culpable. The ball looked to have gone behind for a goal kick - so much so that the Bournemouth players were trooping back to the half way line, when the referee's assistant flagged instead for a corner. Irrespective of the validity of that decision, the corner needed to be defended. As the side bickered and switched off, the corner was only half cleared, to Pugh, stood unmarked at the far post, to smash a low volley past Al-Habsi, via a deflection off the sliding Lewis Dunk. The protestations continued, over the original decision - Joe Bennett booked for his contribution.

    Hyppia's job at half time would have been to get his side's heads up - they were very much in this game, with every chance of a positive result if they could cut out the errors.

    Shortly after the break Lewis Dunk looked for all the world, to have extended his goalscoring run, but his firm downward header, from Forster-Caskey's free kick, was parried away superbly by Boruc, diving low to his right.

    Fifteen minutes into the second half there came a chance to draw level again, but it looked to have been wasted - a free kick from wide right coming to nothing, and eventually being shepherded all the way back to Al-Habsi. The Omani keeper launched it long, where it was flicked on by Greer, still up from the original free kick, into the path of Sam Baldock, who smashed it low past Boruc, to record his first Albion goal.

    Baldock scores, at last

    A few minutes later they spurned a glorious chance to take the lead for the first time in the game - sub LuaLua's low cross from the left passing three on-rushing players, before reaching Gardner unmarked at the far post. From eight yards out with the goal at his mercy, the Villa man leant back, and sent his side-foot finish high into the stand.

    It was to prove costly. On 75 minutes the in-form Callum Wilson spun in the Albion box, creating space but taking the ball away from goal. Lewis Dunk, in a rare poor decision in an excellent season, lunged in from behind, clearing out the striker and giving the local boy Stroud the easiest penalty call he'll make this season. Yann Kermogant inevitably stroked home the spot kick. Even a penalty saving expert like Al-Habsi (50% career saves) unable to break the Albion's hoodoo. That is something like 15 consecutive penalties against the club, that have been successfully converted.

    The Albion tried gamely to come back for a third time, roared on by 1235 away fans in fine voice throughout, but it came to nought.

    I caught Ken doll's interview after the game. He smugly opined that we'd put up a fight, but that 20 minutes of possession at 2-2 had shown that his side "had another gear to go into if they'd needed it". He's kidding no-one. This was a very even game, and Bournemouth needed plenty of good fortune to win it. What they did have, contrary to the media's enduring myth of Bournemouth as a plucky little underdog, is a host of expensive attacking options on their bench.

    But of course, whether the defeat was deserved is largely by the by. 11 games without a win heaping more pressure on the beleaguered Sami Hyypia, who told reporters "We need three points in the table. I am responsible for the results and if we don't get them then something needs to change."

    It was a defeat not without encouraging signs, but the side desperately needs a lift. Hopefully Elliott Bennett, on his way back to the club on loan, can help to achieve it, against Wigan on Tuesday.

    Comments 3 Comments
    1. Westdene Wonder's Avatar
      Westdene Wonder -
      We did far better than i expected last week, on recent form and our two opponents i thought we could have had ten goals in our net,Bournemouth did enough to take the points, they always looked capable of going up a gear if it was necessary
    1. kennyboy's Avatar
      kennyboy -
      Good read and not always clear whats gone on from stand and individual contributions and situations effecting play.Agree better performance but concerns like lack of grit in midfield without Ince and Croft to support Foster Casky.

      Would like to see Holla and Gardener putting tackles and really pressing play.Always seem to be a couple of yards off and not effecting opposition play leaving midfield looking light weight.

      Also we seem often to play a narrow game with Lua Lua drifting in too easily uless thats the instruction to compensate for no tall striker for crosses?Bornemouth played a faster game in passages and unlike our midfield constantly offering space for passing moves

      Liked early work from Hughes expereince told and we looked steady while working into the game,shame short lived.
    1. Bold Seagull's Avatar
      Bold Seagull -
      Those individual errors are happening regularly because of the pressure our defensive is put under, because of our tactics. I don't think anyone can say we were undone at B'mouth just because of individual errors, because we really didn't ever look like winning the game.

      The players are trying, that is a good thing obviously, but the tactics are still very suspect.
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