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Cherries: All roads lead to nowhere for under-fire boss Groves
THE turning points Paul Groves would have craved this season have proved only to be dead ends.
Had Matt Tubbs netted with only the goalkeeper to beat both against Swindon and Brentford, Cherries could have been celebrating a good week.
Had they not fluffed their lines in two penalty shootouts, Cherries could still be involved in two cup competitions.
And had Harry Arter not lost his head against Preston and had Groves’s men taken their chances against MK Dons, they could have had more than a solitary win on the board.
Promotions, however, are determined by the won, drawn and lost columns, not by ifs, buts and maybes.
Trailing 2-0 at the County Ground on Saturday and with half-time fast approaching, Tubbs was presented with a chance he would normally have expected to have gobbled up.
But, in similar circumstances to when Simon Moore denied him against Brentford on Tuesday, Robins goalkeeper Wes Foderingham did likewise as the striker was again left to rue his misfortune.
Lady Luck has certainly not taken too kindly to Cherries this season, as boss Groves is finding to his cost.
Asked what he felt had contribution to Cherries’ downfall against Swindon, Groves replied: “Basic mistakes. They cost you. And then, when you have an opportunity, you have got to take it and we didn’t. That would have enabled us to get back into the game and get something going. But it didn’t happen.”
Cherries, shorn of injured trio Simon Francis, Marc Pugh and Arter, were fortunate to escape early on when James Collins prodded wide following a cross from Andy Williams after just 90 seconds.
And although the visitors saw Eunan O’Kane’s 25-yard piledriver flash past the upright, it was the hosts who would draw first blood through Matt Ritchie after 12 minutes.
The winger profited after Wes Fogden had squandered possession far too cheaply and unleashed an unstoppable left-foot drive past Shwan Jalal .
Although Cherries appeared to be attempting to man-mark Ritchie, he was afforded time and space to again try his luck from distance, his free hit from the edge of the box skewed well off target.
Miles Addison headed narrowly wide following an O’Kane corner before the Robins doubled their lead midway through the first half when Williams was given the freedom of the six-yard to nod a Gary Roberts cross past Jalal.
Although Foderingham’s save from Tubbs denied Cherries a scent of a comeback, in truth, the visitors would have been thankful for small mercies as Swindon seemed to spend much of the second half queuing up to take pot-shots at Jalal’s goal.
Jalal saved with his legs after Williams had taken aim with an angled drive before Alan Navarro blazed the loose ball high over the crossbar. Jalal also raced off his line to beat Swindon substitute Adam Rooney to a poor backpass from Addison before Tubbs was again errant after Josh McQuoid had picked him out.
Cherries fell further behind midway through the second half when Ritchie added his second and Town’s third, the winger’s free-kick from near the touchline somehow managing to creep in at Jalal’s far post.
Briefly spared the indignity of shipping a fourth when Williams’s drive hit the base of the post, the reprieve was only temporary as Rooney turned in a cross from Jay McEveley to complete the rout five minutes from time.
At least skipper Addison pulled no punches post-match.
“Everyone was embarrassed,” said Addison. “We let down each other, the fans, the manager and, most importantly, the town.
“The first goal was a great finish but we seemed to wilt after that. We didn’t stick to the game plan and a few players played as individuals. We weren’t a unit.
“I wasn’t good enough so I can’t point the finger. I didn’t think anybody put in any sort of performance which was acceptable.
“Bournemouth are a passing team and we weren’t brave enough. Maybe I should have taken the game by the scruff of the neck earlier instead of letting it happen.
“It was quite an inexperienced team but that is the squad we have got. We have got really good players but, sometimes, ability isn’t enough. You need a bit of steel, grit and determination and they had more of that.
“It is a bit of a wake-up call for a few players, me included. I think the strong charcters will come to the fore and the weak ones will fall away. I believe in this squad and know it is good enough. The manager and chairman have faith in us and, as a club, we know we can move forward.”
Cherries (4-4-2): Jalal, Cook, Elphick, Addison, Daniels, Fogden (Wakefield, h-t), Partington, O’Kane, McDermott (McQuoid, h-t), Grabban, Tubbs.
Unused subs: Zubar, Thomas, Meades, Fletcher, Buchel (g/k).
Robins: (4-4-2): Foderingham, Thompson, Ward, McCormack, McEveley, Ritchie, Miller, Navarro (Ferry, 67), Roberts, Collins (A Rooney, 53), Williams.
Unused subs: Archibald-Henville, Benson, Bessone, Coke, Bedwell (g/k).
Attendance: 8,533 (including 752 away supporters).
Referee: Andy Woolmer (Kent).