The Cherries were beaten by Coventry in a game of few chances this afternoon at the Ricoh Arena.
Former Cherries loanee David McGoldrick scored the only goal of the match when he slotted the ball home from close range at the start of the second half.
Following the midweek departure of manager Paul Groves and his assistant Shaun Brooks, first team coach Dennis Rofe took charge for the Cherries’ trip to the Ricoh Arena, and immediately made his mark by making four changes to the Cherries starting line-up. Simon Francis made his return from injury, despite being sidelined with a knee injury just two weeks ago, with Marc Pugh, Shaun MacDonald and Lewis Grabban also being handed starts.
Both teams started the game in need of a win – the Cherries with just the solitary victory to their name, whilst the Sky Blues were yet to register a home victory.
And it was the visiting Cherries that started the livelier of the two sides, creating the first real opening of the game came in the sixth minute as MacDonald got on the end of a Grabban cross. He was unable to keep his header down though and it went high over Coventry stopper Joe Murphy’s bar.
MacDonald then had his second chance in as many minutes as he received the ball on the inside of the City box, took a step forward, but his shot went well over.
Despite having the better of the chances, it was in fact Coventry who had the ball in the back of the net early on, with McGoldrick slotting home from close range beyond David James. The visiting Cherries faithful however were able to breathe a sigh of relief as the linesman flagged for offside.
The home side again came close to taking the lead in the 19th minute after McGoldrick again tried his luck – this time James was in the way, as the shot bounced off his shoulder, and fortuitously back into his arms.
It wasn’t long though before the Cherries were once again on the front foot. This time it was Grabban who received the ball on the outside of the area, but after taking his initial touch, he found himself crowded out and could only muster a shot which went high over Murphy’s goal.
The Cherries dominance was evident as the home crowd’s boos resided around the sparsely filled Ricoh Arena, and again in the 27th minute they had another good chance. 18-year-old Josh Carmichael did well to hold off his man in the middle of the park, and he advanced before playing in Grabban whose shot hit the outside netting.
Chances were few and far between as the half drew to a close, however the visitors continued to press, and from their fourth corner of the match Lee Barnard again had an attempt – his header again though, as so many chances did, went well over.
City did have their chances, but they too were unable to test James. Adam Barton’s shot in the 36th minute from outside of the area was perhaps their closest, as, despite worrying the former England stopper, went just over the bar. And in the 43rd minute, James Bailey again tried his luck from outside the area – his shot was never going to test James though.
The Sky Blues started the second half the better of the two sides, with an early succession of chances, with the impressive McGoldrick having an early shot which looked to be heading goalwards. Addison was however alert and hacked the ball away after James parried.
Just a minute later and they had their second chance of the half, as Ball got on the end of a teasing cross. Fortunately the shot went wide, as the linesman also raised his flag for offside.
And the lively McGoldrick was soon involved in the goalmouth action again as his on-target shot was well saved by James. From the resultant corner, Richard Wood was then the latest Coventry player to come close as his header hit the bar. Following a first half in which neither keeper had been tested – the second half started with James being the busiest player on the field.
Rofe made his first change of the game in the 51st minute, as Carmichael was replaced by Joe Partington, and having appeared to have ridden the early pressure from the home side, the Cherries soon found their way into the game. Shaun MacDonald was the first player to force a save from Murphy with his teasing shot from the corner of the area.
Ten minutes later and MacDonald was in the thick of the action again, as he played in Pugh, who played in Barnard, however his close range shot was tipped wide by the keeper and Coventry were able to clear.
The deadlock was broken in the 62nd minute though as David McGoldrick, who had been Coventry’s main threat all afternoon, put the home side in the lead. Half time substitute Callum Ball chipped the ball neatly over the Cherries defence to McGoldrick, who was on hand to tuck the ball neatly under James and in the back of the net.
Coventry’s goal appeared to give them the confidence they had so sorely missed in the first half, and in the 73rd minute they again had another chance – Carl Baker’s shot at the end of an impressive piece of build-up play going well wide.
The Cherries soon made their final changes of the game as they looked for an equaliser, with Matt Tubbs being introduced in place of MacDonald, and Cherries legend Steve Fletcher replacing Saints loanee Barnard just minutes later.
Coventry continued to press as the Cherries looked to break on the counter-attack, and in the 87th minute Matt Tubbs nearly got the goal to pull them level. A mix up in the Sky Blues’ defence enabled the ball to find its way into his path, but the striker was unable to get the required connection and his shot was saved.
City remained resilient though, with a last minute 25-yard shot from Grabban unable to save the Cherries from their second away defeat in a week.
Cherries: James, Francis, Addison, Elphick, Daniels, Hughes, Carmichael (Partington, 49), MacDonald (Tubbs, 75), Grabban, Pugh, Barnard (Fletcher, 80).
Substitutes: Jalal, Cook, Zubar, O’Kane.