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Match report: Leeds United 2 AFC Bournemouth 1
TEN-man Cherries were left crestfallen after missing out on a deserved point from their battling performance at Elland Road tonight.
There had been little to choose between the sides before the big turning point on the half hour when keeper Ryan Allsop was deemed to have sent United’s Noel Hunt sprawling in the penalty area.
His replacement, veteran stopper Darryl Flahavan, quickly became the hero of the hour by saving Ross McCormack’s resultant spot kick but the dismissal completely changed the shape of the game with Cherries spending much of the remainder on the back foot.
The visitors survived a few scares towards the end of the first half but were eventually undone by McCormack’s clever finish seven minutes after the restart.
But those who thought the game was up were in for a rude awakening as Cherries worked a fair number of openings and were worthy of their 73rd-minute equaliser from top scorer Lewis Grabban.
However, the hosts were clever enough to keep stretching Eddie Howe’s hard-working charges and reaped their rewards with 10 minutes to play when Dominic Poleon powered home a close-range volley which was too hot for the impressive Flahavan to handle.
Leeds edged the opening exchanges but chances were few and far between and the home side only looked likely to score when pouncing upon a couple of risky balls from Eunan O’Kane.
Cherries started to grab a foothold in the game as wing wizard Ryan Fraser drew fouls from ex-Dean Court favourite Jason Pearce and Stephen Warnock to rattle the restless home crowd.
Pugh’s smart turn created acres of space but a poor second touch saw the opportunity pass before former Leeds star Ian Harte, recalled at left-back, found on-rushing midfielder Jack Collison moments later, but the West Ham loanee, signed hours before the game, saw his hook collected by Paddy Kenny.
Cherries were handed a reprieve when Fraser’s clearance pinged around the penalty area and landed for McCormack, whose shot was blocked before he was caught offside at the second attempt.
But the visitors’ bright start was undone on the half hour when Hunt latched on to a threaded through ball and got across Allsop before going down under the Cherries keeper’s challenge.
Referee David Coote pointed to the penalty spot before dismissing the dejected Allsop, but substitute stopper Flahavan stepped off the bench for his first appearance of the season and immediately made himself the hero by saving McCormack’s spot kick low to his left and just did enough to put off Hunt on the rebound.
From there, Leeds laid siege on their visitors with the Cherries goal leading a charmed life before the interval.
A bout of penalty area pinball ensued after Alex Mowatt saw his shot saved by Flahavan. Paul Green failed to pull the trigger when well placed before Lee Peltier played the ball to McCormack on the left whose effort ricocheted off Austin with the second attempt from United's skipper charged down by Francis.
Three minutes before the break, McCormack’s inswinging free-kick somehow bounced wide of the far post with Hunt and Tonge trying to convert, while Elliott Ward and O’Kane prevented further efforts from challenging Flahavan before the interval.
Cherries were compact from the start of the second half and kept things calm with Warnock’s hooked effort providing little challenge for Flahavan.
But the breakthrough soon came after Cherries had finally got out of their own half with left-back Warnock scampering into space out wide before steering a low ball round the retreating Ward and McCormack found the far corner with a deft finish.
Holes began to appear in the over-stretched Cherries side with the likes of McCormack and Mowatt pulling the two banks of four wide, creating space for Austin to go close with a couple of long-distance drives.
Leeds appealed for another penalty when Mowatt hit the deck under the attentions of Francis following Peltier’s swinging cross, but Coote was unmoved.
Another well-worked move saw Tonge clear the crossbar while Cherries, try as they might, made little headway in the hosts’ half until Andrew Surman played in Tokelo Rantie on the break, before O’Kane was just prevented from getting a shot off.
The visitors were incensed by Austin’s late challenge on Cook right in front of the dug outs but from Harte's resultant free-kick from deep, Cherries grabbed their lifeline as Grabban latched onto O'Kane's knock-down to level.
But United cranked up the pressure with both full-backs making the most of the extra space in wide areas.
Ward was required to clear another Peltier centre before blocks from O’Kane and Cook denied McCormack, while Austin and McCormack were snuffed out at close quarters by a combination of Flahavan, Cook and Harte following Warnock’s cross moments later.
And Cherries’ brave rearguard action was finally breached 10 minutes from time when a cross from the left was only cleared as far as substitute Dominic Poleon who crashed home a volley from 10 yards out which proved too powerful for Flahavan.
Leeds: Kenny, Peltier, Pearce, Lees, Warnock, Green, Austin, Mowatt, Tonge, McCormack, Hunt (Poleon, 72).
Unused subs: Murphy, Varney, Smith, Diouf, Byram, Cairns (g/k).
Booked: Austin, Poleon.
Cherries: (4-4-2) Allsop 6, Francis 7.5, Ward 8, Cook 7.5, Harte 7, Fraser 7 (Flahavan, 32, 7), Collison 7, O’Kane 8, Pugh (Surman, 63), Rantie 6.5 (Pitman, 77), Grabban 7.
Unused subs: Addison, Elphick, Cornick, McDermott.
Booked: Francis, Pugh.
Sent off: Allsop.
Referee: David Coote (Nottinghamshire)
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