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Perrett's Verdict: Oldham Athletic 0 Cherries 1
IF money is supposed to talk, Ryan ‘Rocky’ Allsop has clearly not read the script.
“How much was Tubbs? What about Elphick? And MacDonald? Was Ritchie £450,000?”
In prepping for his report on the Oldham official website, author Tony Bugby was keen to calculate the worth of the Cherries substitutes’ bench, with £2million the figure arrived at.
While much has been made of Cherries’ spending since funds were unearthed at the bottom of Eddie Mitchell’s garden, little was known of Allsop when he was plucked by Eddie Howe from Leyton Orient in January.
Some supporters even baulked at the thought of Cherries adding to their numbers with a rookie free transfer when surely the purse strings would have extended to another six-figure outlay.
Allied to this, Allsop’s signing also bolstered the club’s goalkeeping resources to such an extent that Cherries could have fielded a strong team of gloves men in the local five-a-side league.
Very much an unknown quantity outside of east London, Allsop had made just 20 league appearances for Orient before he was conscripted by the Russian revolution at Dean Court.
The 20-year-old, however, had one very keen admirer, a manager who had tracked his progress since he had started plying his trade having come through the ranks at West Brom.
Howe had more than a hunch that he could be on to a winner with Allsop and, had circumstances been different, the pair may have joined forces at Burnley. Their loss could well be Cherries’ gain.
On the evidence of Allsop’s first three performances and with Shwan Jalal and Darryl Flahavan breathing down his neck, the Cherries’ goalkeeping duties could be in safe hands for a while.
Jalal, who lost his place to Allsop after being promoted to number one in January, and Flahavan, back following a long injury layoff, will ensure competition will remain fierce among the goalkeepers’ union.
Allsop, deposed as first choice at Orient after refusing to sign a new contract, was handed his Cherries debut against Doncaster having had just one development squad run-out in three months.
And while he would have been disappointed to have conceded twice at his near post in the 2-1 defeat by Rovers, Allsop was faultless during Cherries’ 1-0 win at Stevenage three days later.
His third game in an eventful eight-day spell came at Oldham on Saturday where Allsop played a starring role as Cherries kept their first clean sheet at Boundary Park in 26 attempts.
Allsop’s save from Latics midfielder Jose Baxter’s woeful penalty may have been his party piece and, ultimately, it preserved Brett Pitman’s finely-crafted first-half opener.
However, there was a lot more to his game as the emerging custodian’s assured, confident and eye-catching display continued to enhance his rapidly growing reputation.
Saves either side of the one from the spot from Jordan Obita’s thunderous drive and from Baxter’s curling free-kick were also key, while Allsop’s handling, from a barrage of corners and high balls, was exemplary.
While Allsop may have claimed the man-of-the-match plaudits, Pitman, another of Howe’s shrewd acquisitions, again clinically delivered the goods in front of goal.
His sweeping finish, following a well-constructed move involving Charlie Daniels, Eunan O’Kane and Lewis Grabban, brought to 12 Pitman’s goal tally for the season.
An absolute steal at £60,000, the Jerseyman and Allsop could yet prove to be the signings of the season with both coming good at the business end of what promises to be a gripping climax.
Offloaded by former Bristol City manager Derek McInnes, Pitman has continued from where he left off with Cherries and is homing in on a third golden boot for the club.
His goal against the Latics owed much to the awareness of Grabban whose perfectly-timed centre found Pitman arriving just outside the six-yard box.
And while leading scorer Grabban extended to eight games his personal drought, fluffing his lines with one good chance in the second half, boss Howe was quick to highlight the striker’s impact.
Howe said: “I thought Grabbs worked extremely hard. He did well for the goal and it is always worth remembering that goals have to be created as well as scored. It was a good pass from Eunan and excellent play from Grabbs.”
Pitman’s 22nd-minute strike was the only highlight of an opening period that Oldham caretaker-boss Tony Philliskirk had been far from impressed with.
“I have been here 15 years and don’t think I have seen a worse 45 minutes. And, if there has been a team that has come here in my time at Boundary Park and had an easier half, I have not seen it,” raged Philliskirk.
While Cherries and their hardy 194 travelling supporters will remember this trip for the win, an historic clean sheet and Baxter’s penalty gaffe, little else will remain in the memory bank.
Cherries: Allsop 9, Francis 7.5, Cook 7.5, Seaborne 7.5, Daniels 7.5 (Ritchie, 73), Fogden 7, O’Kane 7.5, Arter 7, Pugh 7, Grabban 7 (Hughes, 73), Pitman 8.
Unused subs: Tubbs, Elphick, McQuoid, MacDonald, Jalal (g/k).
Booked: Arter, Pitman, Francis, McQuoid.
Latics: Bouzanis, Brown, M’Voto, Tarkowski, Grounds, Croft (Millar, 60), Wesolowski, Baxter, Obita (Montano, 67), Barnard, Iwelumo (Simpson, 69).
Unused subs: Taylor, Smith, Winchester, Cisak (g/k).
Attendance: 3,540 (including 194 visiting supporters).
Referee: Keith Hill (Royston, Herts).
Despite being just three games into his Cherries career, Allsop, the youngest of four goalkeepers on the club’s books, has already made his presence felt.
While his save from Jose Baxter’s awful second-half penalty was a key moment in the contest, Allsop backed it up with a commanding all-round performance.
Superb stops from Baxter’s free-kick and a blistering Jordan Obita strike were equally as important, while his handling of corners and crosses was excellent.
Central defenders Steve Cook and Dan Seaborne, who took their fair share of criticism during the run of five defeats, also stood firm against Oldham’s aerial bombardment.