Even the most optimistic of the Bristol City faithful would have expected not to benefit too much from an away trip to Bournemouth’s Vitality Stadium. The Cherries sit second in the Championship and one need only look at some of the players on their bench – Gary Cahill, Todd Cantwell, Jamal Lowe, Ben Pearson and Siriki Dembele – to recognize the difference in playing quality between the two teams.
There’s been quite a bit of discussion on the forums this week around parachute payout fairness and on Saturday for me I pointed out how unequal the playing field is for those who have payouts and those who don’t. don’t have any. It’s not an excuse and it’s not all, but there is no doubt and statistics confirm the fact that those who descend from the Premier League and receive payments for a period of three years have an unfair advantage.
City shocked their hosts by taking an early lead through Rob Atkinson’s header from a good Matty James corner and from then on, for most of the half, Nigel Pearson’s side were forced to defend. Bournemouth were so comfortable with the ball and always seemed to have runners and options.
City defended valiantly but where we let ourselves down and it’s a recurring theme was the consistent ease with which we turned over possession. We defended our goal well; we get the ball back and get away, but then give the ball away with a sloppy pass or making the wrong option.
I counted five times in the first half where we made a breakaway two against two or three and three and I didn’t take advantage of it. As a result, we were constantly on the back foot.
Let me say up front that Bournemouth is a class side. They have quality all over the pitch and for me at Lewis Cook they had the best player in play. Cook picked up the ball all over the pitch and played simple but effective passes that were always forward looking.
Of course, it helps when you have the quality of play that the Cherries have in Philip Billing and Jefferson Lerma alongside Cook. Our midfield was overwhelmed and just couldn’t cope. In that first half, Bournemouth completed 358 of our 95 passes.
It looked like we had weathered the storm, with Robbie Cundy in particular, to me, impressive at the back. Cundy made a vital tackle that was brilliantly timed. I really like his look and hope the club will look to keep him for next season.
Just when it looked like we might get to half-time with a lead we conceded. We couldn’t clear the ball from the edge of the area far enough and a shrewd pass found Jordan Zemura who played in a ball across the box and Dominic Solanke’s first effort was too much for Dan Bentley. City had defended so well but there was no denying that Bournemouth deserved the equaliser.
The second half started in much the same vein with Scott Parker’s side leading and that man Cook was the player to put Bournemouth ahead. It was sloppy from City, we didn’t shut Cook down and he was allowed to shoot from range and Alex Scott (I think) and Andi Weimann either couldn’t block or chose to leave the ball and it seemed to block Dan Bentley’s line of sight and he was beaten low in the corner.
While there was a chasm in class when we were on the ball, you couldn’t fault the effort the Robins put in and we stayed in the game. There are many ways to lose a match, but when you see your team giving it their all in terms of effort, you aren’t as discouraged.
We should have had a penalty when Chris Martin was clearly fouled by former City youngster Lloyd Kelly and Martin also had a close range shot well saved by Cherries keeper Mark Travers.
To be fair to Pearson, he changed the form of the team and introduced Han-Noah Massengo, whose energy and will on the ball gave City their best period of the game. Unfortunately, another classy moment from Bournemouth and Dembele put the game beyond City.
There was time for a late goal from Andi Weimann, his 19th of the season after a very good move started by the Austrian, who fed the ball to Tommy Conway and the substitute timed his run superbly and the ball crossed for a simple tap-in.
At the final whistle, the general feeling was that we had been beaten by the better team but that we had at least made the effort to stay in the game and that another day with a little more luck we might have -to be taken something at the game. However, make no mistake, Bournemouth were worthy winners.
Before the game we visited a bar in Boscombe and I overheard a member of staff say she was from Bristol and was studying at Bournemouth. I also heard her say that she went to Bedminster Down School, which was the school I attended, although many years before her.
When I spoke to her, it turned out that not only did we go to the same school, but Beth and her brother sat next to me in the Atyeo booth over 10 years ago. What a small world.
Our 3 Peaps In A Podcast ratings were: Daniel Bentley 5, Jay Dasilva 6 *MotM, Cameron Pring 5, Robbie Cundy 6, Timm Klose 5, Rob Atkinson 6, Matty James 5, Alex Scott 5, Andi Weimann 5, Nahki Wells 5 , Chris Martin 5. A 5.27 team average for the game. For Nige it is 5. The current team average for the season is 5.86 with an expected performance rating of 6.
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