This is the most difficult match report I’ve had to write this season. I’ve not felt so utterly bereft after a loss for such a long time. To a certain extent that’s not a bad thing. I expected us to win today and that’s certainly different to how I felt before we last played Bournemouth.

The lads I was enjoying some pre-match scran and peeve with today were all of a similar mindset regards expectations, especially once we saw the line-up. Gayle getting a start was a very pleasant surprise. Gayle and Joselu in the line-up was a moment that induced a collective heart murmur. It looked like we were playing 442 which was an exciting/surreal/excusemebutwhatthefuck moment all at once.

We really went for it in the first 20 minutes. For me, and forgive me if I’m being a little OTT here (a fair amount of booze and waking up on a train 2 hours outside of Newcastle with my face buried into the seat gives an indication as to my current mood) but I thought it was the most ‘gung-ho’ start to a match we’ve produced this season. Shelvey was dictating the ball and, for the first time in while with Hayden alongside him, was the more advanced of our 2 central midfielders. We were dominant and the chances started to come thick and fast.

First, a 25 yard rasper from Ritchie 6 minutes in produces a good save from Begovic.

Second, a Gayle header at the back post from an excellent Ritchie cross that hits Cook in the stomach. Unlucky. The tempo’s building nicely. Shelvey and Hayden are bossing the midfield and Bournemouth look fragile. A goal would see their confidence fold. And then a goal came. Except it didn’t.

16 minutes in to the match and Ritchie smacks the post with a beautiful long-range effort….Gayle snaffles the rebound up and the ball is in the back of the net. The linesman’s flag went up and the goal was inexplicably given as offside. it wasn’t and it was another example of amateur and costly officiating.

And then it started to settle. Joselu had a long-range effort on the half hour mark which, unfortunately, smacked of a player lacking self-belief in front of goal. It was a tame grasscutter when the lad probably had more time to set up a team mate or carry the ball closer to goal.

Towards the end of the first half Bournemouth started to show their quality. They won’t have any issues staying up this season. They’re a very skilful side who rarely seem to waste a pass. Callum Wilson’s looping header tipped over the top by Elliott towards the end of the half a first warning sign that they could do damage if we let them build up any kind of momentum. Elliott produced another good save from Josh King a couple of minutes later.

By the end of the first half it was hard not to be impressed with how Howe’s lads had started to play themselves into the game. However, the half-time whistle went and I think that the general feeling was that if we put one chance away we’ll win this.

IT’S THE HOPE THAT KILLS YOU.

We came out for the second-half and the game and started on the front foot briefly as we had in the 1st half. A Ritchie corner was met by the head of Joselu but his header wasn’t clever enough. Begovic saved.

Then Bournemouth started to have more of the ball and started to look dangerous when advancing forward. Callum Wilson broke through and had a clear run on goal. He panicked slightly and Elliott made another good save. Jamaal was struggling by this point and was replaced by Clark just before the hour mark. Bournemouth were now in the ascendency and we were struggling to hold on to the ball and unable to do anything with it when we had it.

Then a substitution made by, and I’m saying this now because I can’t believe I’m about to make a criticism a decision, our most magnificent, beautiful, talented genius of a manager, completely changed the shape of the team and the dynamic of the game within seconds of it being made. Joselu was howked off for, what we assumed, was Mitrovic. Fair enough as Joselu, who hadn’t had a bad game in the first half and who had developed a half decent understanding with Gayle, was knackered and clearly not going to score by this point. Completely drained of all confidence by the time he was replaced. Except it wasn’t Mitrovic. It was Perez. And it was a decision that did not work out positively.

We lost any attacking threat we might have had and it was clear by this point that me and the lads I was with true faith 134 - latest free issue. Read it Here.would’vebeen happy with a point. The Cherries were looking dangerous every time they pressed and hearts were in mouths when somehow Pugh’s shot hit the inside of the post when it looked certain to go in.

We know what happened next. A Bournemouth corner and Cook rising to plant it in the back of the net.

Gayle ran through at the end and looked for a foul which wasn’t given. That was it. Game over. Absolutely sickening and a rare home defeat for Rafa’s Mags

Murphy had come on a little earlier for Atsu and the groans every time he got the ball were audible. Absolutely no need for that. he’s a young lad getting 6 or 7 minutes to change a game in which his side is losing. He needs support, not criticism.

According to the press the team were booed off. can’t say I noticed but if that’s the case then howay man, get a grip. We’re still mid-table. We’ll be alright. Over-reaction not necessary. Howay the Lads.

 

NORMAN RILEY – Follow Norman on @likethegoat

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