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Town 1-0 AFC Bournemouth - Half-Time
Friday, 3rd Apr 2015 18:17

Freddie Sears’s sixth-minute goal has given the Blues a 1-0 lead over AFC Bournemouth at half-time at Portman Road.

Mick McCarthy, whose side had dropped to eighth following the day’s earlier games, made three changes to the team which won at Watford a fortnight ago with Zeki Fryers making his debut at left-back for the suspended Tyrone Mings, while Teddy Bishop, back after a shin injury, came into the middle of midfield for Kevin Bru, who missed out with a calf problem.

Sears started up front alongside 23-goal Championship top scorer Daryl Murphy with David McGoldrick and Jonny Williams, who received a warm ovation as he walked to the dugout, both on the bench. Luke Varney began on the right of a four-man midfield.

For Bournemouth, top scorer Callum Wilson started up front despite manager Eddie Howe having said he expected him to miss the Easter matches.

The visitors carved out the game’s first chance in the fourth minute, Simon Francis laying the ball back to Matt Ritchie, who whipped over a cross which Ryan Fraser headed wide having got ahead of Blues skipper Luke Chambers.

A minute later, Town went in front via their first opportunity of the game. Cole Skuse’s cross from the left found Daryl Murphy at the back of the box. The Irishman was given time and space to play a pass across the area to Sears, who slammed home from six yards with Steve Cook playing him onside. It was the ex-Colchester man’s fifth goal for the Blues and his 19th this season.

The Cherries immediately looked to hit back, Ritchie finding Andrew Surman, who sent a ball across the Blues’ six-yard box from the right.

Moments later, Brett Pitman just failed to reach a cross from the left, the loose ball eventually falling for one-time Town trialist Harry Arter, who blazed over.

The visitors had been on top since the Blues’ goal but on 12 Varney fed Fryers in space on the edge of the box, however, the debutant left-back shot well over.

At the other end, Christophe Berra blocked from Wilson, then, as what had been a pulsating first quarter of an hour came to an end, Francis just got in ahead of Varney after the on-loan Blackburn man had been threaded in by Sears. Referee Robert Madley awarded a goalkick, however.

The Cherries continued to look threatening every time they went forward but with Town so far preventing them from creating any big chances. On 25 Chambers was booked for a late tackle on Ryan Fraser.

There was a scare for the Blues on 31 when Bishop stabbed the ball away from a Bournemouth player into the path of Pitman, but the striker turned his shot straight at Bartosz Bialkowski from the edge of the box.

The Town keeper was forced into his first serious save of the game six minutes later. Ritchie fed Fraser in space to his left and the Scot hit a shot which Bialkowski did well to push past his left post.

Arter was booked for a cynical foul on Tabb as Town broke before Bialkowski again saved from Fraser. The winger whipped over a cross which swerved towards goal and the Pole did superbly to tip the ball over at his far post as it appeared to be dipping under the bar.

Moments later, Chambers and Berra reacted angrily to Wilson rather obviously diving between them inside the area. The Cherries striker then shoved the Town captain and was spoken to along with his skipper Tommy Elphick but referee Madley kept his cards in his pocket.

Varney felt the Blues ought to have been awarded a penalty in the 42nd minute when his cross struck Elphick’s arm. Referee Madley awarded a corner from which the visitors broke after Fryers had slipped, the on-loan Crystal Palace man perhaps fortunate to avoid a booking for fouling Ritchie.

Bialkowski was in action again two minutes later, the Polish keeper punching away Ritchie’s well-struck 25-yard shot. The loose ball fell to Fraser on the edge of the box but his shot screwed well wide.

The Cherries kept up the pressure in the closing stages, Chambers blocking a shot from Francis on the left of the area, the full-back having got away from Jay Tabb. Soon after, referee Madley brought an riveting half to an end.

Having taken their early chance the Blues had largely been on the back foot with Bournemouth passing the ball around slickly and looking dangerous whenever they went forward.

However, for the most part Town had been able to limit the Cherries’ significant opportunities, while Bialkowski made a number of important and impressive saves towards the end of the half.

Town: Bialkowski, Chambers, Smith, Berra, Fryers, Skuse, Tabb, Bishop, Varney, Murphy, Sears. Subs: Gerken, Clarke, Chaplow, Anderson, Williams, Wood, McGoldrick.

AFC Bournemouth: Boruc, Francis, Cook, Elphick, Daniels, Ritchie, Surman, Arter, Fraser, Pitman, Wilson. Subs: Camp, Ward, Smith, Gosling, MacDonald, Kermorgant, Jones. Referee: Robert Madley (West Yorkshire).

Photo: Action Images

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bostonusablue added 18:31 - Apr 3
Please take Tabb off. He's not even at the races today. We have to keep the ball better. If we go on and win this it'll be a miracle.

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