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Cherries: Howe hails a dogged and determined performance
Brett Pitman followed up his midweek penalty winner at Stevenage by bagging the only goal of the game as Cherries claimed a hard-earned triumph at Oldham yesterday.
Pitman took his tally for the season to 12 when he swept home Lewis Grabban’s cross midway through the first half to settle in Cherries’ favour a dire Boundary Park contest.
Cherries were also thankful to Ryan Allsop for saving Jose Baxter’s woeful penalty, the Latics man left red faced after seeing his dinked effort snaffled by the goalkeeper.
Victory hoisted Howe’s men from seventh to fourth in League One with just three points separating them from Brentford, who occupy the second automatic promotion spot, and five behind leaders Doncaster.
Speaking at his post-match press conference, Howe said: “We were delighted with the victory. The two fixtures at Stevenage and Oldham were tests of character and we have managed to come through both with 1-0 wins.
“It was a scrappy game and it wasn’t one of our best performances of the season. But, at this stage, it is all about results. You can play well and lose games and it doesn’t do you any good. With eight games to go, we needed to win and did with a dogged and disciplined performance.
“I didn’t think the opposition helped in terms of the spectacle because they were very direct and put us under pressure with a lot of long balls to big Chris Iwelumo, who was a handful in the air. But we repelled it and, if we had got a second goal, it would have killed the game. We couldn’t do that, even though we had chances.”
Howe admitted his decision to restore Charlie Daniels to his starting line-up had been a gamble, the defender having not trained for eight weeks since succumbing to a foot injury.
“We were desperate to get him back because he is a very good player,” said Howe. “I knew I was taking a bit of a punt because he hadn’t had a training session. He had done a bit of work with the fitness coach and was brave enough to say he would play.”
Speaking without having had the benefit of watching a replay, Howe said he felt the award of the penalty – given for handball against Grabban – had been “really harsh”. Howe also said Baxter’s choice of execution had surprised him.
“I didn’t think it was a penalty because I didn’t think Lewis’s arm was raised,” said Howe. “But Ryan made a terrific save. Initially, I thought it had gone in and I thought he had dived and committed himself. But he managed to stick up a big arm and it seemed to take an age to get the ball into his hands. It was like slow motion.”