Cherries cut by Blades comeback
- Jonathan Moss
AFC Bournemouth took the but conceded towards the end of each half as they fell to a 2-1 defeat to Sheffield United on Sunday.
The Cherries struck first after an electric opening, Callum Wilson netting his eighth of the campaign after he pounced in the area after some flowing build-up play.
The away side created further openings but the Blades grew into the contest and took one of their chances moments before the break when Billy Sharp similarly showed his predatory penalty area instincts.
Substitute John Lundstram stepped off the bench to turn things around and score a well-taken goal for the hosts inside the final ten minutes, and despite a handful of late openings, the visitors' two-game winning run came to an end at Bramall Lane.
There was one enforced change for the Cherries in South Yorkshire, Andrew Surman coming in for the suspended Jefferson Lerma, though the visitors were boosted by returns to the bench for Joshua King and Jack Stacey.
While the strong winds and driving rain of Storm Ciara were a main talking point ahead of the match, the sun unexpectedly broke through as the teams kicked-off.
There was an early opening when Ryan Fraser scampered into the box, crossing for Harry Wilson who headed off target.
The bright start continued as a free-kick from the flank was flicked on and Callum Wilson at the back post improvised well to volley, his athletic effort passing half a foot wide of the upright with 'keeper Dean Henderson a spectator.
There was no denying the England international in the 13th minute though, as the Cherries took the lead to cap their fine start.
A trademark Cherries attack, Surman linked with Harry Wilson, the ball played wide for Fraser who returned with his cross. The Welshman's shot was blocked by John Egan but it fell to Callum Wilson who reacted quickly to fire first time into the roof of the net.
The Blades had an opportunity to hit back soon after Sharp only finding the side netting as he found space to latch onto a low centre, Jack O'Connell then headed over in the 29th minute from a corner.
The away side were continuing to swashbuckle however, Fraser played through dangerously but unable to find Callum Wilson with his pass, next Oli McBurnie almost profiting at the other end from a mis-control in the area, Aaron Ramsdale saving.
Bournemouth hearts were in mouths as Ollie Norwood struck a loose ball from 22 yards, the shot ricocheting off the inside of Nathan Ake's knee and a whisker wide. United were ending the half strongly, Ramsdale down sharply to save from McBurnie's header at the resulting corner.
However, the Blades were level on the stroke of the interval. A corner was only half cleared, Enda Stevens drilled a low ball back into the six yard box and after Egan's initial shot was blocked it fell for Sharp to stab home from close range.
It was feisty from the restart, Egan's tackle on Dan Gosling causing some pushing and shoving, though the opening ten minutes of the second half couldn't match the high energy of the first half.
Diego Rico and Fraser combined down the left, the ball played centrally for Adam Smith who stepped inside his man but then fired well over with his left foot from outside the area. Fraser soon stormed into the box, winning a corner that, recycled by Simon Francis, was hooked narrowly wide by Ake.
The tempo was rising again at Bramall Lane, both sides looking well capable of finding the game's next goal. Harry Wilson had that in mind as the ball was knocked down to him, but from range he half-volleyed high over the bar.
But for a stunning Henderson save, the Cherries would have retaken the lead. Smith's cross was smartly flicked on by Callum Wilson to Fraser, the Scot lashing a shot that seemed destined to rustle the net before the on-loan 'keeper's diving intervention.
With just under 20 minutes remaining Joshua King was introduced for his first minutes of 2020, replacing Harry Wilson, while former Cherries man Lys Mousset also was soon on in his first appearance against his former side.
Mousset nearly had the headlines as George Baldock's fine run was found and after McBurne couldn't get his shot away the Frenchman could, denied only by a brave block in the six-yard box.
Into the final closing stages and Mousset would play his part, gaining the assist as the Blades took the lead.
Getting the ball to feet in the area he turned and passed inside to Lundstram who coolly slotted a low shot home.
Dominic Solanke was introduced with the Cherries' final substitution, though it was Ake who soon came close to a leveler as he met a corner but headed just wide.
Into four minutes of added time and Ake, pushed up front, looked to turn among the bodies in the opposition penalty area, unable to do so as the full-time whistle soon sounded.