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AFC Bournemouth boss Howe praises players for their flexibility
Lewis Grabban’s sweetly-struck second-half goal propelled Cherries four places to 12th in the Championship as Howe’s men deservedly left Ewood Park with maximum points tonight.
Grabban’s 67th-minute effort, his 15th of a fruitful campaign, helped Cherries complete a hat-trick of wins and three consecutive clean sheets in the second flight for only the second time in the club’s history.
The feat was first achieved under Harry Redknapp’s stewardship in 1988 when a 1-0 win at Bradford was sandwiched between triumphs over Ipswich (1-0) and Crystal Palace (2-0) at Dean Court.
Howe told the Daily Echo: “We were really pleased. We knew it was always going to be a really tough game because Blackburn are a good side. But I thought the way the players approached the game was excellent.
"They showed real bravery, a really good mentality and how flexible they are. We changed the system and the game-plan from Blackpool and the players adapted magnificently.
“There was a lot of defending to be done and it was a team effort. We knew what problems Tommy Spurr’s throws would give us and we needed to defend that area of the game well.
"Blackburn are a big side but I felt we rose to the challenge. We were very good physically and then our football shone through. The longer the game went on, the more control we had and I felt we fully deserved the win.
“You are never going to be able to stop it totally and there are always going to be balls coming into your box. But, when they did, our two centre-halves stepped up to the plate and defended for their lives, as did everybody.
“We are pleased to have won three games on the trot and kept three clean sheets in the process. It is a nice statistic to have matched something achieved by the club in 1988. The most important thing for us was to build on our momentum and get another big win on the board.”
Asked whether he felt it had been Cherries’ best away performance of the season, Howe replied: “It was up there but I wouldn’t say it was our best because I think we have played better.
"At times in the first half, we gave away the ball under little pressure. I felt we were very close to dominating the game in the first half without ever really having the cutting edge we needed to turn our dominance into goals.”
Howe welcomed back Harry Arter, who had missed Saturday’s win at Blackpool due to a calf problem, although the influential midfielder was substituted in the second half after aggravating the injury and will be assessed by the club’s medical staff.
Meanwhile, Howe confirmed striker Yann Kermorgant had been to the Villa Stuart Clinic in Italy for a consultation on his heel injury and was due back in England tomorrow.
“We feel his injury has improved,” said Howe. “But until he is assessed by our own medical team, we won’t know if he is going to be in contention for Saturday. I don’t think it is a long-term problem and, hopefully, he will be fine in a few days.”
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