AFC Bournemouth star O'Kane: Work without the ball has been key



First published in Sport Bournemouth Echo: Photograph of the Author by

CHERRIES might have torn apart their recent Championship opponents with searing attacking displays but midfielder Eunan O’Kane says work done off the ball has been equally key.

Eddie Howe’s men have taken 3-0 leads into half-time in three of their past four games, with that scoreline achieved inside just 28 minutes against Birmingham and Leeds.

And while goal-getting prowess in the final third has inevitably played a significant role in that statistic, O’Kane, 23, feels that working hard when not in possession has also been important.

He told the Daily Echo: “I think a big part of it has been the intensity with which we press without the ball. Those teams have played us and they haven’t really known what was going on until they were 3-0 down.

“Reading never had a second until we scored our third goal and I would probably say the same about Leeds and Birmingham. The games were over before they had woken up. It’s not really something fans remember or talk about in the pub afterwards.

“You’re not going to remember Marc Pugh winning the ball before we broke for the third goal against Reading, but what he did was as important as any other part of the move.

“When we’re good off the ball, we tend to win games and it’s something we want to continue. Why drag it out over 90 minutes if you can have the three points almost wrapped up in the first half hour?”

Cherries will tomorrow make the trip to Huish Park to face a Yeovil side desperately trying to haul themselves off the base of the Championship table (3.07pm).

The Glovers have just five games to make up a six-point gap if they are to ensure survival and O’Kane is hopeful that Gary Johnson’s men will go all-out for the win, allowing his own team to prey on resulting gaps.

O’Kane added: “Teams down there are fighting to stay in the league and they need points more than teams who are aiming for the play-offs.

“People will say Yeovil are already down, but they have nothing to lose and need to win.

“We will be hoping that will play into our hands and that we will be able to give the performances that we have over the past few weeks.

“Bearing in mind the way we play, the more they come at us, the more open the game will be. We will have to back ourselves to be better than them on the ball and back ourselves to pick up the three points.”

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