Meldrum's Verdict: AFC Bournemouth 3 Yeovil Town 0

Bournemouth Echo: STAR MAN: Eunan O'Kane celebrates his goal STAR MAN: Eunan O'Kane celebrates his goal

CHERRIES had been threatening this for a while. But there was something extra in this execution of Yeovil – a ruthlessness to their finishing and a polished feel to some, at times, breathtaking Boxing Day football.

The game against Birmingham here two weeks ago had promised much, but had ultimately ended more in frustration and bewilderment than appreciation for what was a great performance in defeat.

This boasted the right result to go along with a stunning display. It was the complete performance.

The stats backed up Cherries’ dominance against the Blues, but the milestones came today.

Eunan O’Kane scored his first goal in the Championship. Cherries ended a barren Dean Court run that had seen them yield just one point in four games on their own turf prior to this victory. It was the first time they had registered back-to-back wins since returning to the second tier.

O’Kane is turning into quite a player. The Irishman is the cog that drives Cherries forward and enables them to play the kind of inspiring, passing football demanded by Eddie Howe.

He also commands the ground in front of the back four with cold-hearted maturity and a brutishness that defies his build. Behind him, Elliott Ward and Tommy Elphick dealt superbly with rare threats from Ishmael Miller and Joel Grant. They were immense.

Howe now appears to have largely settled on the spine of his team and it has shown in wins against Sheffield Wednesday and now Yeovil.

On paper at least, this fixture would have been viewed as something of a welcome respite following a tough run of games since Millwall were demolished 5-2 here in October – Cherries’ last victory on home soil before today.

Like the Lions, Yeovil have found life far from easy this season and, having gone down 1-0 to Blackburn on Saturday, it has been a Christmas to forget for Gary Johnson.

Cherries started brilliantly. After seven minutes, O’Kane fed Harry Arter at the start of a wonderful break. Charlie Daniels crossed for Lewis Grabban but the striker just failed to get on the end of the left-back’s delivery.

Moments later, Marek Stech saved from Andrew Surman at point-blank range. The sold-out crowd lifted.

Arter saw his shot blocked by Shane Duffy on nine minutes, before Lee Camp saved well at the near post from Grant at the other end.

Stech clawed Matt Ritchie’s header away after the winger had met Ryan Fraser’s cross on 17 minutes. Grabban’s follow-up shot sailed over the crossbar.

As Cherries picked up the pace, Ritchie took advantage of a slip from James McAllister to feed Grabban.

The striker, though, hesitated and was crowded out as he tried to round Stech.

It was a golden opportunity and the ghosts of Birmingham past were lingering in the crisp Boxing Day air.

As the half wore on, Arter’s free kick was easily saved by Stech, while another set-piece, this time from Daniels six minutes before half-time, was pushed around the post by the Glovers goalkeeper.

A minute later, Ward found himself in an advanced position and cut inside from the left. His right-foot curling shot was narrowly wide. Stech then beat away another Grabban effort.

It was chance after chance for Howe’s men. They should have gone in at half-time comfortably in front and many would have been sensing a festive bout of déjà-vu as opportunities continued to go begging.

To compel those concerns, Ward put the ball in the net on the stroke of half-time only to see his celebration in front of the main stand drowned out by a chorus of boos as referee Craig Pawson chalked off the effort for a foul by Elphick in the build-up.

The opening goal came five minutes after the restart, though.

Fraser’s initial shot was blocked, but Ritchie, loitering on the edge of the box, was able to gather the loose ball and blast past Stech.

He could have had a second just two minutes later, but was inches from getting on the end of Grabban’s cross from the left.

On 57 minutes, though, it was 2-0. And it was Ritchie again.

The winger’s curling shot, which looked to be on target, was helped past Stech by the head of Duffy. Two-nil and game over, although Johnson, perhaps, thought not after a treble substitution just after the hour. It was a last throw of the dice.

The imposing Ward was on his toes to slide in and deny Miller inside the six-yard box during a rare Glovers attack, before looking on with awe as O’Kane scored the third, and best, goal of the game.

Picking up the ball just inside the Yeovil half, O’Kane, as he had done on more than one occasion in the first half, set about charging directly at Johnson’s back four. He ran all of 30 yards and beat three men before slotting a left-foot shot past Stech. It was a stunning strike.

Efforts from Surman, who chipped a 70th-minute shot over the bar, and Ritchie, whose drive took a deflection past the post seven minutes from time, followed.

But Johnson’s men were spent, although there was time for Ed Upson’s shot from inside the box to come back off the post.

But today was all about Cherries banishing their home demons and, at a time of year when reflection is frowned upon in favour of looking forward, 2014 promises much.

 

STAR MAN – Eunan O’Kane

There is little that hasn’t already been said about midfield playmaker O’Kane.

He is fast becoming arguably the most important player in this blossoming Championship team.

O’Kane’s role in front of the back four is key and the Irishman has taken to it like a duck to water.

He adds protection to the defence and is the go-to man when breaking away from deep. His skill with the ball at his feet today was, at times, simply beautiful to watch and his goal was a festive dream.

Mentions should also go to centre-halves Tommy Elphick and Elliott Ward who were dictatorial at the heart of Eddie Howe’s defence.

 

MATCH FACTS AND ECHO MERIT MARKS

Cherries: (4-1-4-1) Camp 7.5; Francis 8, Ward 8.5, Elphick 8.5, Daniels 8; O’Kane 9*; Ritchie 8.5, Arter 8 (MacDonald, 60), Surman 8, Fraser 8 (Pugh, 81); Grabban 8 (Rantie, 74).

Unused subs: Addison, Pitman, Allsop (g/k).

Booked: Arter.

Glovers: (4-4-1-1) Stech; Edwards (Hayter, 62), Fontaine, Duffy, McAllister (Davis, 62); Dawson, Lundstram (Foley, 62), Ralls, Grant; Upson; Miller.

Unused subs: Moore, Nana, Hoskins, Dunn (g/k).

Booked: Dawson, Lundstram, Upson, Ralls.

Referee: Craig Pawson (South Yorkshire).

Attendance: 10,717.

Comments (11)

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8:45pm Thu 26 Dec 13

Afcbpete says...

Tommy Elphick struggled in his first games this season, O'Kane likewise, looked out of his depth, yet today, they both looked excellent. O'Kane in particular, was outstanding. Ritchie will take the plaudits, and quite rightly so, where would we be in the league if he hadn't been injured for so long, the guy is immense. But in truth that was expected, what wasn't expected, was Eunan developing into the player he has. Like many, I've been saying we needed strengthening in midfield, but after today, it does have me wondering if that's true!!! UTCIAD
Tommy Elphick struggled in his first games this season, O'Kane likewise, looked out of his depth, yet today, they both looked excellent. O'Kane in particular, was outstanding. Ritchie will take the plaudits, and quite rightly so, where would we be in the league if he hadn't been injured for so long, the guy is immense. But in truth that was expected, what wasn't expected, was Eunan developing into the player he has. Like many, I've been saying we needed strengthening in midfield, but after today, it does have me wondering if that's true!!! UTCIAD Afcbpete

9:16pm Thu 26 Dec 13

nonnogeppetto says...

I have to say that the first half felt like one of those games where we controlled everything and we seem unable to score that most important goal. What a relief when Ritchie scored, from then on there was no looking back.

I agree with AFCBpete on the other article the only way Rantie is going to score if he gets hold of the ball and makes an opening for himself because as yet he is not getting that telling pass which would enable him to get anywhere near scoring I don't know what it is but the passes that he does get are so difficult to control or make anything with them!

Looking forward to Sunday UTCIAD
I have to say that the first half felt like one of those games where we controlled everything and we seem unable to score that most important goal. What a relief when Ritchie scored, from then on there was no looking back. I agree with AFCBpete on the other article the only way Rantie is going to score if he gets hold of the ball and makes an opening for himself because as yet he is not getting that telling pass which would enable him to get anywhere near scoring I don't know what it is but the passes that he does get are so difficult to control or make anything with them! Looking forward to Sunday UTCIAD nonnogeppetto

9:43pm Thu 26 Dec 13

O'Reilly says...

nonnogeppetto wrote:
I have to say that the first half felt like one of those games where we controlled everything and we seem unable to score that most important goal. What a relief when Ritchie scored, from then on there was no looking back.

I agree with AFCBpete on the other article the only way Rantie is going to score if he gets hold of the ball and makes an opening for himself because as yet he is not getting that telling pass which would enable him to get anywhere near scoring I don't know what it is but the passes that he does get are so difficult to control or make anything with them!

Looking forward to Sunday UTCIAD
Don't worry too much non.....Arsenal had the same problem today.... ;-)
[quote][p][bold]nonnogeppetto[/bold] wrote: I have to say that the first half felt like one of those games where we controlled everything and we seem unable to score that most important goal. What a relief when Ritchie scored, from then on there was no looking back. I agree with AFCBpete on the other article the only way Rantie is going to score if he gets hold of the ball and makes an opening for himself because as yet he is not getting that telling pass which would enable him to get anywhere near scoring I don't know what it is but the passes that he does get are so difficult to control or make anything with them! Looking forward to Sunday UTCIAD[/p][/quote]Don't worry too much non.....Arsenal had the same problem today.... ;-) O'Reilly

10:05pm Thu 26 Dec 13

your having a laugh111 says...

Excellent season so far, my half season hopes were 25 points and with a game to spare we have 28. We will be OK this season. Well done lads.
Excellent season so far, my half season hopes were 25 points and with a game to spare we have 28. We will be OK this season. Well done lads. your having a laugh111

10:15pm Thu 26 Dec 13

raybren says...

Fair report Neil but are you a friend of Harry Arter ? No mention of the fact that he was disciplined by Eddie Howe in front of 10,000 people ! He ' s an excellent player but when will he ever learn ? Well done to the rest of the lads , great performance , great result .
Fair report Neil but are you a friend of Harry Arter ? No mention of the fact that he was disciplined by Eddie Howe in front of 10,000 people ! He ' s an excellent player but when will he ever learn ? Well done to the rest of the lads , great performance , great result . raybren

10:35pm Thu 26 Dec 13

STEADY EDDIE 1 for the road says...

Nice to see the TedMac stand so full today. As comfortable a victory as we are likely to see at DC this season, it really could have been 6 or 7. Fair play to Yeovil for having a go, but there really was a gulf in class, special mention must go to O'Kane who's performance was immence. Keep up the good work lads, onwards & upwards.
Nice to see the TedMac stand so full today. As comfortable a victory as we are likely to see at DC this season, it really could have been 6 or 7. Fair play to Yeovil for having a go, but there really was a gulf in class, special mention must go to O'Kane who's performance was immence. Keep up the good work lads, onwards & upwards. STEADY EDDIE 1 for the road

10:41pm Thu 26 Dec 13

STEADY EDDIE 1 for the road says...

Forgot to mention, please get Camp signed up asap, he gives the whole team stability and confidence.Rocky will be great in the future but Lee is the keeper for us at the moment.
Forgot to mention, please get Camp signed up asap, he gives the whole team stability and confidence.Rocky will be great in the future but Lee is the keeper for us at the moment. STEADY EDDIE 1 for the road

7:36am Fri 27 Dec 13

susi.m says...

Very glad that Echo has given MotM to O'Kane. I cant remember seeing such a hard working and match aware player at Dean Court. Everything has fallen into place for him in the last couple of months and he seems to be improving all the time.
Ritchie's quick thinking is a pleasure to watch.
Defence looking great.
Little disappointed to see Arter opening his mouth on the pitch again.
All in all - not poor performances by anyone.
Very glad that Echo has given MotM to O'Kane. I cant remember seeing such a hard working and match aware player at Dean Court. Everything has fallen into place for him in the last couple of months and he seems to be improving all the time. Ritchie's quick thinking is a pleasure to watch. Defence looking great. Little disappointed to see Arter opening his mouth on the pitch again. All in all - not poor performances by anyone. susi.m

9:41am Fri 27 Dec 13

Fanfor45 says...

susi.m wrote:
Very glad that Echo has given MotM to O'Kane. I cant remember seeing such a hard working and match aware player at Dean Court. Everything has fallen into place for him in the last couple of months and he seems to be improving all the time. Ritchie's quick thinking is a pleasure to watch. Defence looking great. Little disappointed to see Arter opening his mouth on the pitch again. All in all - not poor performances by anyone.
When we beat Millwall 5-2 I left the stadium a very proud supporter. However, yesterday's performance was as consummate a performance as I have seen from any Cherries team other than when we went to Hillsboro 3 or so years ago, played them completely off the park and only came away with a 1-1(Ryan Garry the scorer). To think that there is room for improvement with this team means we have no idea what quality they will serve up if they keep going like yesterday. Ipswich will be a bigger test than Yeovil admittedly but bring them right on.I can't wait!!! As for O'kane...... I can't find words to describe what a fantastic player he is. :-)
[quote][p][bold]susi.m[/bold] wrote: Very glad that Echo has given MotM to O'Kane. I cant remember seeing such a hard working and match aware player at Dean Court. Everything has fallen into place for him in the last couple of months and he seems to be improving all the time. Ritchie's quick thinking is a pleasure to watch. Defence looking great. Little disappointed to see Arter opening his mouth on the pitch again. All in all - not poor performances by anyone.[/p][/quote]When we beat Millwall 5-2 I left the stadium a very proud supporter. However, yesterday's performance was as consummate a performance as I have seen from any Cherries team other than when we went to Hillsboro 3 or so years ago, played them completely off the park and only came away with a 1-1(Ryan Garry the scorer). To think that there is room for improvement with this team means we have no idea what quality they will serve up if they keep going like yesterday. Ipswich will be a bigger test than Yeovil admittedly but bring them right on.I can't wait!!! As for O'kane...... I can't find words to describe what a fantastic player he is. :-) Fanfor45

11:23am Fri 27 Dec 13

Playedthegamebefore says...

I've got a feeling we'll go on one of those 8 wins in 10 games type runs now, get into play off positions, and all of a sudden the national media starting talking about us being a possible promotion contender........hap
py days.
I've got a feeling we'll go on one of those 8 wins in 10 games type runs now, get into play off positions, and all of a sudden the national media starting talking about us being a possible promotion contender........hap py days. Playedthegamebefore

12:58pm Fri 27 Dec 13

cromwell9 says...

Great win lads.
Just shows what we can do when everyone is switched on .
The last two wins were against two poor sides.So six points were a must .
The side Eddy picked was our strongest we could of put out ,with the exception of Mr C.
Lots of massive games to come. Ipswich on Sun .
Lets hope Eddy off loads a few players in the January Sales.Starting with Brett Pitman,etc.
I would of settled for 28 points ,at this half way stage .
With a bit more luck we could of got a few more.
Hope we can buy Camp .He is top class .
Great win lads. Just shows what we can do when everyone is switched on . The last two wins were against two poor sides.So six points were a must . The side Eddy picked was our strongest we could of put out ,with the exception of Mr C. Lots of massive games to come. Ipswich on Sun . Lets hope Eddy off loads a few players in the January Sales.Starting with Brett Pitman,etc. I would of settled for 28 points ,at this half way stage . With a bit more luck we could of got a few more. Hope we can buy Camp .He is top class . cromwell9

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