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Payne's Verdict: AFC Bournemouth 5 Doncaster Rovers 0
That was the first-half taunt of a vocal band of Doncaster die-hards who made the long trip south to watch their team play at Dean Court on Saturday.
True that Donny pipped Cherries to the League One title in dramatic fashion last season and satisfying it must have been for their fans, but football is about the here and now. Soon enough, the Rovers supporters in the East Stand were silenced.
This was nothing but a good news day for the hosts. After weeks of frustration, mainly against the Championship’s top sides, Eddie Howe’s troops delivered a performance of total dominance and at last they got what they deserved.
If the Dean Court faithful had concerns prior to kick-off that slipping into a relegation dogfight was still a possibility, Saturday’s display illustrated emphatically that Cherries should have no worries on that score.
The hosts put five past their visitors and it is not a stretch to say that they could have had more. Presentable chances came at regular intervals, in both halves. Seven or eight goals would not have been flattering.
Sure, Donny’s rearguard was flat-footed, naive and forever playing catch-up, but that should not detract from the lively and dynamic nature of Cherries’ display. They really were a joy to watch.
Striker Yann Kermorgant converted a superb treble on his first start for the club. Ryan Fraser embodied Cherries’ energy and enthusiasm in causing Gabriel Tamas untold problems. Harry Arter was his usual busy self and scored a cracker to kick-off his brace.
Simon Francis supplied Kermorgant with two wonderful crosses, while Ian Harte sent in a pinpoint delivery for the Frenchman’s opener.
Defensively, Cherries were virtually without error, although admittedly they were barely tested. It took Donny 75 minutes to register a shot on target and even then, Lee Camp scooped up substitute Theo Robinson’s weak effort with consummate ease.
A first clean sheet since the 3-0 triumph over Yeovil on Boxing Day was a welcome bonus and Cherries’ hopes of beginning March with a flourish were well and truly realised.
The writing was on the wall from virtually the first whistle.
Four minutes in, Fraser skipped down the left flank and, after surviving appeals that the ball had gone out of play, crossed for Kermorgant to head straight at Manchester United loanee Sam Johnstone from six yards.
Not long after, Fraser latched on to Andrew Surman’s measured pass in behind, only for centre-half Bongani Khumalo to intervene with the young Scot preparing to pull the trigger.
Neat set-plays followed, without reward. Arter’s corner was met fiercely by Surman, only for Johnstone to tip over, before Arter dummied Harte’s low flag kick from the other side and Kermorgant lashed off-target.
With 26 minutes played, the deadlock was broken.
Harte sent in a deep cross that Kermorgant confidently struck first-time, with the ball zipping straight through Johnstone’s legs and into the net.
Surman was denied a penalty after going down under Abdoulaye Meite’s challenge and Johnstone then came to Donny’s rescue once more in parrying wide Fraser’s effort from 15 yards.
A minute before half-time, Matt Ritchie’s blocked cross fell to the feet of fellow right-sided man Francis, who delivered beautifully for Kermorgant to rise high and nod into the roof of the net.
Visiting boss Paul Dickov threw on Robinson and David Cotterill at half-time in a bid to shake things up, but Donny did not improve.
Cherries’ glee only increased when the ball pinballed around the edge of the penalty area before breaking free to Arter, who slammed a rocket of an effort into the right corner from 20 yards.
Only five minutes of the second half had passed and Rovers’ demoralised players must have been concerned at what was to come. Rightly so.
It wasn’t quite Lewis Grabban’s afternoon and that was summed up when he found the side-netting after streaking away from Meite, with the striker then toe-poking high and wide from Ritchie’s fizzing centre.
But it was Kermorgant’s day. Once again full-back Francis was the provider on 75 minutes as he crossed for the former Charlton man to head a measured effort to Johnstone’s left.
Robinson finally had Donny’s first shot on target moments before Kermorgant got a huge ovation as he was replaced by Tokelo Rantie.
Johnstone, the visitors’ best player by far, was at fault for Cherries’ fifth when his weak punch fell to Arter and the midfielder completed the rout by finding a path between covering defenders in the six-yard box.
Rantie should have added to the tally but first skewed across goal and then blazed over after fellow substitute Marc Pugh had laid invitingly into his path from the right flank.
As it was though, those misses were academic. Cherries finished 5-0 winners and therefore secured their biggest-ever victory in the Championship, much to the delight of the home supporters.
There was even time for a late cameo for Mohamed Coulibaly, ravaged by injury this campaign and making a first appearance since September.
Just a good news day all-round.
Star man - Yann Kermorgant
After four substitute appearances without a goal, Kermorgant was given a starting opportunity by Eddie Howe and the Frenchman emphatically repaid his manager’s faith.
The £400,000 January signing from Charlton was a threat from the off and it was no surprise when he confidently struck between the legs of Sam Johnstone midway through the first half.
Kermorgant’s two headers were superbly taken, providing Simon Francis’s deliveries with the finishes they deserved.
Linking well with Grabban and Cherries’ midfield players, ‘the Beast from Brittany’ proved he was much more than just a big man up front.
Cherries: Camp 7.5, Francis 8, Cook 7.5, Elphick 7.5, Harte 7.5, Ritchie 7.5, Arter 8.5, Surman 8.5, Fraser 8 (Pugh, 75), Kermorgant 9 (Rantie, 75), Grabban 7.5 (Coulibaly, 83).
Unused subs: Smith, Pitman, O'Kane, Allsop (g/k).
Rovers: Johnstone, Tamas, Khumalo, Meite, Husband, Keegan, Wellens, Furman (Cotterill, h-t), Brown, Bowery (Robinson, h-t), Coppinger.
Unused subs: McCullough, De Val, Peterson, Stevens, Maxted (g/k).
Booked: Keegan, Tamas, Khumalo.
Referee: Darren Sheldrake (Surrey).
Attendance: 8,983 (including 398 away supporters).
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