Fraser and Pugh ensure Carabao Cup progression
- Geoff Eltringham
A goal down at the break, two second-half strikes see Bournemouth through in the Carabao Cup at St Andrew’s.
Dutch midfielder Maikel Kieftenbeld gave the hosts a tenth-minute lead but after a first half full of pressure, Ryan Fraser pulled the Cherries level less than minute into the second period.
Marc Pugh finished emphatically to deservedly nudge the visitors ahead, and though further chances were created a positive performance saw Bournemouth into the third round draw.
There were eight changes to the Cherries’ Saturday Premier League team, including a first start for Jermain Defoe following his summer signing – with just Adam Smith, Steve Cook and Ryan Fraser the three players remaining from the Watford defeat.
Birmingham made seven changes of their own, and while the away side had much the better of the opening ten minutes the Blues took the lead with their first real attack.
A corner from the left was headed back across goal by Jonathon Grounds and at the far post Kieftenbeld found himself with time and space to tuck home from three yards.
Defoe threatened to draw the visitors level twice within 30 seconds as first a nimble turn in the area made room for a shot well saved by keeper Tomasz Kuszczak’s legs, before the striker then drove a low strike a foot wide from the edge of the box.
As had been the case bar for one moment of the opening 25 minutes, Bournemouth were the aggressors. Defoe again tested Kuszczak and when the ball came back to him he found Pugh whose shot was held by the former Poland international.
Lewis Cook found Kuszczak’s midriff from 23 yards, but despite the Cherries’ pressure Birmingham were soon within some fine defending of conceding a second.
Pouncing on a defensive lapse, Isaac Vassell found himself through and must have thought he had scored after rounding Artur Boruc and finishing low – only for Tyrone Mings to athletically track back and backheel off the goal line.
Brad Smith, lively at left-back, crossed well but could only find the Kuszczak’s gloves while Lys Mousset tested the keeper’s angles with a powerful drive.
In spite of their pressure, a late-half flicked shot from the forward-thinking Mings and four added-on minutes, the Cherries trailed at the interval.
Within moments of the restart Bournemouth had the leveller their first-half play had more than merited.
Adam Smith used his pace to make inroads down the right, the full-back’s low ball was on a plate for Fraser who finished from eight yards.
Looking for a quick second Mousset saw a shot saved, while at the other end and a rare home attack Cohen Brammall struck a 22-yard shot three yards off target.
The confidence starting to flow for Bournemouth, Pugh had his side ahead for the first time just past the midway point of the second half.
A Mousset drive split the Blues’ defence and feeding the ball wide left, Pugh produced a trademark cut inside and finished with power via the underside of the St Andrew’s bar.
Brad Smith stung a shot from 25 yards that arrowed only just over the Birmingham bar before Mousset produced some magic to flick up twice then volley in a shot that needed a flying save to keep the Cherries’ lead at just the one-goal margin.
Into the final ten minutes and Birmingham began a concerted spell of forwards play for the first time in the game. Jacques Maghoma exchanged passes with Lukas Jutkiewicz but Pugh was able to clear away in the centre.
Jutkiewicz miscued an attacking header before substitute Benik Afobe bustled into the home area and shot, only for Kuszczak to again keep out the Cherries.
The save mattered not, however, as the full-time whistle soon blew with Fraser and Pugh's efforts sending the Cherries into Thursday morning's 4:15am Carabao Cup third round draw.