Four-midable Cherries soar top
- Keith Stroud
On a stormy night AFC Bournemouth blew away Barnsley and went top of the Championship table with a fantastic 4-0 win in front of the Sky Sports cameras.
Philip Billing lasered home a terrific opener from just outside the box after just 12 minutes, the lead doubled on the stroke of half time when Dominic Solanke sprinted through and slammed a precise finish home.
The second half started in similar fashion, Diego Rico scoring his first Cherries goal with a free-kick from the flank that was as stunning as it was unexpected.
Sam Surridge added his name to the scoresheet as he profited from some generous Barnsley defending, the Cherries retaining a further bonus to the final whistle of a mark-setting performance with their first away clean sheet in nearly a year.
Looking to bounce back from the midweek disappointment, Jason Tindall reverted to a back three, Tuesday goalscorer Sam Surridge in from the start at Oakwell though Jefferson Lerma missed out through suspension.
Getting started in South Yorkshire, Sam Surridge had an unexpected and golden chance within 90 seconds.
Home 'keeper Jack Walton rushed out of his area but couldn't collect the ball, giving the Cherries striker an open goal but a tough angle to negotiate - his shot from outside the area rolling agonisingly wide.
Solanke was sent rushing through on goal by Billing, but hesitating, the striker was closed down by a chasing defender.
Alex Mowatt tested Asmir Begovic with Barnsley's first effort, the Bosnian diving to his right to parry clear from 22 yards.
Begovic was required again, down sharply to smother at the feet of Mads Andersen after a well-worked Barnsey free-kick fell to the defender in the six-yard box.
Having weathered the Tykes' brief storm, the Cherries strode forwards and took the lead in style.
Adam Smith flew down the right, bringing the ball inside before passing to Billing. The midfielder steadied himself, ignored an overlapping run and confidently placed his shot beyond the 'keeper to give the away side the advantage.
Lewis Cook - making his 100th club appearance - dropped a delicious ball for Surridge, who couldn't control in his stride, Solanke soon wriggling with his back to goal to open an opportunity, Walton saving with his body.
Another dangerous Barnsley free-kick was worked to Conor Chaplin at the back post, his goalbound effort diverted wide by Andersen from point-blank range as the Cherries barely surviving the scare.
The rain pounding down as the half drew to a close, and there was double delight for the Cherries just as the referee put his whistle to his mouth for the interval.
Just in time, Billing got his foot in, Lewis Cook won the ball back, Solanke span his man and hared forwards, sliding in a glorious near-post finish to secure the visitors' place in the driving seat.
Returning 15 minutes later with the rain only heavier at Oakwell, things were soon even better for the away side as they netted a fantastic third.
With a free-kick wide on the right and attackers lining up for the delivery, Rico instead went for goal and found it in style with a fired effort just inside the near post with the 'keeper a desperate spectator.
David Brooks struck over from range before a strong Callum Brittain run teed up Tykes substitute Dominik Frieser, but he couldn't connect and conjure hope for the hosts.
Cauley Woodrow and Luke Thomas went close for the home side, looking for a foothold in the game.
However, Surridge soon joined the goalscoring party as he took advantage of some lapse defending to net a fourth.
A poor pass sent the Poole-raised striker through on goal, Surridge letting fly as he entered the box and his strike squirming through the 'keeper and bouncing over the line for a second goal in four days.
Fully in control, Dan Gosling, Jaidon Anthony and Rodrigo Riquelme joined the action from the bench, almost immediately Riquelme stinging Walton's palms with a shot arrowed into the near post.
There was one further Bournemouth bonus late on when Gavin Kilkenny was also introduced for his first-team debut - making for four academy graduates on the pitch.
Begovic was down sharply to palm away a wicked low cross in added time to rubber-stamp his clean sheet on a night filled with positives for the away side - who set an early-weekend marker at the summit of the league table.