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AFC Bournemouth: Pitman makes a point for impressive Cherries
After weathering an early storm from the visitors, Cherries impressed and had the opportunities to have claimed a notable scalp against the play-off contenders.
Ryan Fraser fired wide early on before Ipswich’s star man, keeper Dean Gerken, denied Lewis Grabban with a brilliant block before the break.
Cherries were made to pay for missing their chances when Daryl Murphy converted a Frank Nouble cross to get the Tractor Boys motoring.
However, Cherries fought back and substitutes Marc Pugh and Pitman combined to put the hosts level. Pugh’s cross was headed back into the mix by Matt Ritchie and when Gerken could only parry Andrew Surman’s drive, Pitman lashed home from six yards.
Gerken again enhanced his reputation by saving from Surman in the closing stages as Ipswich shut up shop in the face of more Cherries pressure late on.
With Harry Arter suspended and Shaun MacDonald understood to have failed a late fitness test, Josh McQuoid made his first start of the season in a central midfield role.
Ipswich, who arrived unbeaten in six and on the back of just one defeat in their past 10 matches, included former Cherries loan star David McGoldrick up front.
After registering three wins out of four, Cherries were also in decent form going into a game which represented the halfway stage in their league season.
Ipswich made a very bright start and forced a series of corners, testing Cherries’ defensive resolve with some dangerous deliveries.
Having restricted the visitors to long-range shots from McGoldrick and Nouble, Cherries steadily settled and then dominated for long periods with impressive forward play.
Comeback man McQuoid was heavily involved in creating the hosts’ first opening. The 24-year-old showed sharp pace and good awareness to send Lewis Grabban clear on the right. And when the striker’s cutback found Ryan Fraser 12 yards out, the Scotsman’s goalbound shot was brilliantly blocked by Ipswich captain Luke Chambers.
Fraser again went close when the winger latched on to Aaron Cresswell’s wayward clearance, only to slice wide when well placed.
Ipswich keeper Gerken recovered well to tip wide after Eunan O’Kane’s floated cross-shot had almost embarrassed the stopper. From the corner, Gerken was alert to gather a low Simon Francis shot.
Gerken continued to impress and it took an exceptional save from the keeper to deny Grabban on 35 minutes. Found by a fine Ritchie pass, Surman scampered clear and delivered a sublime backheel to put Grabban clean through, only for Gerken to race off his line, narrow the angle and bravely block.
It was now all Cherries and centre-half Tommy Smith was next to prevent a Grabban goal as he produced a last-gasp intervention after Fraser had delivered a pinpoint far-post cross following fine midfield work by Surman.
Tommy Elphick and Elliott Ward launched themselves in front of Luke Hyam’s shot to ensure the teams went in level at the interval.
Gerken comfortably saved Grabban’s low left-foot shot as Cherries attempted to maintain their momentum after the break.
But Cherries were punished for not converting their chances when Ipswich went ahead on 59 minutes. Murphy finished clinically from close range after timing his run to meet Nouble’s precision cross from the right.
Boss Eddie Howe wasted no time in making changes and he introduced Pitman for McQuoid.
The lively Fraser forced Gerken into a diving save before Pugh replaced the teenage winger. And Pugh had an immediate impact when he played a major role in Cherries’ equaliser. His deep left-wing cross was headed back into the danger area by Ritchie and when the loose ball found its way to Surman, his fierce drive was parried by Gerken into the path of Pitman, who made no mistake from close range.
With the hosts and their supporters buoyant, Cherries were celebrating again moments later when Gerken spilled the ball into his own net, only for referee Phil Gibbs to interrupt the party by awarding a foul for a push.
Gerken saved Surman’s dipping volley before comfortably holding Elphick’s close-range effort, with Grabban then failing to test the stopper with a header as Ipswich held on.
Cherries: (4-1-4-1) Camp; Francis, Elphick, Ward, Daniels; O’Kane; Ritchie, McQuoid (Pitman, 60), Surman, Fraser (Pugh, 73); Grabban.
Unused subs: Addison, Harte, Hughes, Thomas, Allsop (g/k).
Ipswich: (4-3-3) Gerken; Chambers, Berra, Smith, Cresswell; Hyam, Skuse, Tunnicliffe; Nouble (Taylor, 76), McGoldrick (Mings, 87), Murphy.
Unused subs: Tabb, Edwards, Anderson, Graham, Loach (g/k).
Referee: Phil Gibbs (West Midlands)
Attendance: 11,096 (including 1,412 away supporters)
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