After back to back draws against Coventry and Wycombe (2 games you ideally want to be picking up 2 wins in) Blues had the task of travelling to a Bournemouth side who have lost 4 on the bounce and recently parted ways with Jason Tindall. The new manager effect couldn’t come at a worse time for Blues who currently can’t buy a win.
Before a ball is kicked I think many would argue a point wouldn’t be disastrous when you put into perspective the players Bournemouth have at their disposal, but the need for wins is increasing after every game that passes by.
Blues started the game brightly and a lot more positive than what we had seen in the previous 2 outings. Pressing Bournemouth at every given opportunity and enjoy a fair chunk of possession to go with it. I don’t think many including the home side quite expected Blues to bolt out the gates like they had done.
Goals have been extremely hard to come by this season (we’d only scored 19 to be exact before today’s game) and that looked to continue to be the case when Ivan Sanchez had his effort cleared off the line thanks to a scrambling Bournemouth defender and moments later Sunjic almost half volleyed a chance into the bottom corner, if it wasn’t for Asmir Begovic to get down low to his right and turn it away from danger.
Blues did get the breakthrough not long after, a ball across the 6 yard box and Begovic making a huge mess of the save, allowed Hogan to steam in a tap home from 3 yards, just the moment of luck a side who are down in the dumps need.
It could have got even better if it wasn’t for the assistant referee’s flag, which denied what would have been goal of the season by some margin. A ball clipped in behind the Bournemouth backline and Pedersen unleashed a left footed volley which cannoned into the top corner (I think we all got off the seat and couldn’t believe what we had just seen, until we were brought back down to reality).
The game then seemed to quieten down a tad after a very busy 10-15 minutes and this allowed Bournemouth to finally get a foothold in the game and start testing Blues. Etheridge relatively untested for the first half an hour of this game.
Blues Achilles heel finally played up and a terrible attempt to control the ball from Sunjic put Bournemouth on the break and Harlee Dean was caught out flying into the midfield? which left Friend exposed in a 1v1 against Danjuma and the latter cut back in on his right foot and slotted it home to level the game.
Cruel on Blues, but it’s the individual errors that keep costing us in games.
After that Bournemouth really did grow in confidence and it was them doing all the pressing. Blues couldn’t keep hold of the ball and were desperate to see half time, which thankfully did come and both sides went in level at the break.
The second half proved to be much more of a even battle with both sides having spells on the ball and trying to get that all important second goal. Unfortunately, Blues defensive fragility was back on show, Bournemouth won the ball in their own half and broke quality and a lofted cross into the box found an unmarked Jack Wilshere who was watched by Harlee Dean as his header managed to loop into the back of the next. Another individual error costing them.
Blues needed to find a response and get themselves back into the game and as the game appeared to be dying down and Bournemouth starting to ease off, Blues found the leveller again. Scott Hogan beating the offside trap and nodding home for his 2nd of the game, could it be?
Unfortunately we all know how it goes and once more it was another sloppy error which lead to Bournemouth finding their 3rd and what turned out to be the winner. A free kick from the right evaded everyone and found Billing at the back stick who headed the ball in off the post after losing San José far too easily.
Blues once again pegged back and need to dig deep to find a response. With 10 to go it was time to turn to the bench again and instead of finding someone to partner Hogan for the finally flurries, he actually found himself on the bench as he was replaced by Juke, who was later partnered by Cosgrove for the final 4 minutes. Baffling to say the least.
It wasn’t enough for Blues who were defeated on the road and found themselves slipping into the bottom 3 at the end of play.
The rest of February is going to be a huge moment for our season and will give a big indication on which division we could be playing in next season.
Will Karanka find the answers or will we be back in the managerial merry-go round? Only time will tell.
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