Cherries hold on for win at Oakwell
- Andre Marriner
Philip Billing's ninth goal of the season was enough to seal a 1-0 victory for AFC Bournemouth at Barnsley on Saturday afternoon.
Chilly, blustery conditions made for a scrappy affair in south Yorkshire and though the Cherries had Mark Travers to thank for preserving their lead on a few occasions, they were good value for their first league victory of 2022.
Scott Parker made four changes to the side that lost 1-0 to Hull City last weekend, with Jordan Zemura among them as he returned to the side after his time with Zimbabwe at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Gary Cahill, Ben Pearson and Jaidon Anthony were also restored to the starting line up in place of Leif Davis, Emiliano Marcondes and the injured Chris Mepham.
The Cherries started confidently and might have been in front after eight minutes as Jack Stacey burst into the box on the right flank and crossed low for Dominic Solanke, whose first time shot flashed just wide of the near post from close range.
Solanke was involved again shortly after as the visitors went in front through Philip Billing. The Cherries’ top scorer chased down a long ball and beat the advancing Tykes ‘keeper Bradley Collins to nod the ball towards the right flank. With Collins racing back towards his own goal, Solanke hoisted a deep cross into the box which Billing did well to nod into the roof of the net.
Parker’s side continued to control the opening exchanges and nearly went two up after 27 minutes as Ryan Christie cut inside from the right flank and tested Collins with a powerful 20-yard shot which the ‘keeper gathered at the second attempt.
Mark Travers was called into action for the first time as Barnsley broke from Collins’ clearance and Aaron Leya Iseka cut into the box and shot towards the far post, but Travers reacted sharply to beat the ball away from danger.
It was a scrappy final quarter of the half, with the Cherries largely in control but unable to find a second goal – Billing going closest with a 10 yard volley from a Christie cross which flashed just over.
The second half started as sluggishly as the first had finished with neither side able to find any rhythm, though Barnsley had an early sight of goal on 47 minutes as Devante Cole steered a free kick goalwards, but Travers got down well to push away.
Jefferson Lerma nearly doubled the visitors’ lead on 53 minutes as he nodded Ben Pearson’s deep free kick goalwards, but Collins scrambled across his goal to parry the ball clear.
Travers had to be alert again shortly after as Callum Styles combined well with Cole before shooting low from 15 yards, forcing Travers to sprawl low to his left and palm clear of danger.
After those early chances, the game became disjointed as both sides struggled for momentum and fluency, with clear cut chance at a premium.
The Cherries were reduced to 10 men in the final few minutes as Gary Cahill was shown a second yellow card for a foul on Devante Cole.
That presented the opportunity for James Hill to make his debut, coming on for the final few minutes. He was largely untested however as good game management ensured Scott Parker's men held on for a vital three points.
Barnsley: Collins, Williams, Styles, Andersen, Leya Iseka, Moon, Palmer (Benson, 68), Vita, Helik, Wolfe (Marsh, 78), Cole.
Unused subs: Hondermarck, Sraha, Bremang, Thompson, Walton (g/k).
AFC Bournemouth: Travers, Stacey, Cahill, Kelly, Zemura, Pearson, Lerma, Billing, Anthony (Lowe, 84), Christie (Hill, 89), Solanke.
Unused subs: Marcondes, Davis, Kilkenny, Moriah-Welsh, Dennis (g/k).
Booked: Cahill, Zemura, Solanke.
Sent off: Cahill.
Referee: Andre Marriner.