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AFC Bournemouth: First-half goals help Cherries sink Sheffield Wednesday
ANOTHER disciplined away performance saw Cherries seal a crucial 2-1 victory at Sheffield Wednesday thanks to goals from Matt Ritchie and Lewis Grabban.
Much like their heroics at Reading a fortnight ago, Eddie Howe’s men were largely resolute in defence with an incisive streak on the break.
Ritchie’s low rocket – his third goal in five Championship starts – handed the visitors the initiative after 10 minutes before top scorer Grabban’s ninth of a prolific season so far gave Cherries a two-goal cushion at half-time.
Cherries were happy to stifle the game after the interval and had little cause for concern until Camp punched Joe Mattock’s cross onto Charlie Daniels with the ricochet falling to Jacques Maghoma who netted from close range.
However, the was little in the way of late drama as the Owls, booed by their own fans at half-time and the end, failed to find any kind of fluency as Cherries secured a maximum haul that moves them eight points clear of Wednesday and the relegation zone.
The most notable absentee from Cherries’ team sheet was sidelined defender Steve Cook but boss Eddie Howe was able to recall Elliott Ward who had recovered sufficiently from his calf injury to fill the void at centre-half.
On the left wing, Ryan Fraser made his return in place of Marc Pugh who started on the bench.
Despite being forced to soak up some early pressure, Cherries took the lead with a razor-sharp move from their first attack.
Andrew Surman kept in play the ball on the right and rolled into the path of Ritchie’s driving run from deep. The winger then powered inside and hit a fierce low shot to beat home keeper Damian Martinez at his near post from the edge of the area.
Another slick passing move on the break threatened to carve open Wednesday once more as Fraser burst forward and switched the play to Grabban on the right.
Ritchie was soon in support and found the on-rushing Surman who managed to get the ball from under his feet and force Martinez into a low save to his right.
Jermaine Johnson did his best to inject some urgency into the hosts but Cherries held firm and another penetrating phase of play quickly doubled their advantage.
Ritchie’s clever touch fed Arter to play a sumptuous threaded ball down the right channel for Grabban to overpower his marker and rifle home at the near post on 27 minutes.
With the home crowd growing restless, the Owls briefly upped the ante with Jermaine Johnson hitting the side netting and defender Miguel Llera forcing an awkward save from Lee Camp.
Midfielder Giles Coke thumped wide when well placed while Cherries defender Daniels was lucky Maghoma chose to stay on his feet during a penalty area tangle.
Cherries might have got a decisive third when Grabban raced on to a lofted throughball but Martinez just beat him to the chase with the Wednesday goal gaping on the stroke of half-time.
Despite a subdued opening to the second half, Scottish sensation Ryan Fraser kept probing with some barnstorming runs and his well-weighted pass deserved much better when Grabban raced away only for his touch inside for Arter to prove too weak.
Sights of goal were proving rare for Cherries in the second half but Llera almost gift wrapped number three by dallying in possession though the on-rushing Ritchie’s shot was always rising.
As Cherries gradually retreated, Wednesday piled on the pressure without testing Camp before an error from the on-loan stopper gave the Owls their scarcely deserved lifeline with eight minutes left.
Camp came for substitute Mattock’s deep cross from the left but the ball bounced off Daniels into the path of Maghoma on the line who simply could not miss.
However, the was little sign of a grandstand finale with the home side failing to find the necessary tempo, and Grabban, who was flicked in by Marc Pugh from Daniels’ long throw towards the end, should have settled the contest but shot tamely at Martinez.
Sheffield Wednesday: Martinez, Palmer, Llera, Roger Johnson, Reda Johnson, Lee, Coke, Semedo (Helan, 66), J Johnson (Mattock, 80), Nuhiu (Savic, 66), Maghoma.
Unused subs: McCabe, Corry, McPhail, Kirkland (g/k).
Goal: Maghoma 82.
Booked: Reda Johnson.
Cherries: Camp, Francis, Elphick, Ward, Daniels, O'Kane, Arter, Surman (MacDonald, 86), Ritchie, Fraser (Pugh, 72), Grabban (Pitman, 90).
Unused subs: Harte, Addison, Rantie, Allsop (g/k).
Goals: Ritchie 10, Grabban 27.
Referee: Jeremy Simpson (Lancashire)
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