Cherries back top after comeback blunts Blades
- Robert Jones
AFC Bournemouth produced a rip-roaring turnaround as they came from a goal behind to beat Sheffield United 2-1 in a high-octane match at Vitality Stadium.
The first half had half-chances and incidents for both sides, though neither were able to find the breakthrough.
The Cherries almost found a way through seconds after the restart but instead found themselves behind when Morgan Gibbs-White finished off a move, Scott Parker's side faced with their first deficit of the season.
The lead lasted only six minutes however, Dominic Solanke winning and then slotting home a penalty after surging into the visiting penalty area.
The turnaround was then completed moments later as Ryan Christie provided the incision and then the assist for Philip Billing to slide home his sixth of the season.
The returning Lys Mousset hit the post in the dying moments as the Cherries maintained their unbeaten Championship start and regained their top spot in the table over the international break.
Head coach Parker made three changes to his starting line-up, reverting to the side that had beaten Luton Town seven days ago, meaning that Jaidon Anthony, Adam Smith and Ben Pearson returned to the 11.
After a morning of torrential rain in Dorset, there was little let up in the conditions as the teams kicked-off, the visitors winning the toss and switching ends, meaning Bournemouth unusually attacked the Vitality Steve Fletcher Stand in the opening 45 minutes.
Both sides adjusting to the conditions, Mark Travers was forced to block away a high centre from Ben Osborn at his near post inside 90 seconds.
The play open and attacking, Billing swerved a 25-yard free-kick over the wall only to see Blades 'keeper Robin Olsen dive and parry the dangerous effort away.
The energetic Anthony won a corner and after it was taken short he volleyed a looping centre into the mixer, Jefferson Lerma rising high to meet the ball but Olsen well positioned to gather.
After a succession of United corners, all well defended, an unexpected chance appeared for the home side. Under pressure from Solanke, Olsen passed straight to Billing, the Dane's first time effort close enough to the 'keeper to allow him to save and breathe a sigh of relief.
Ryan Christie arrowed a marvellous ball through defenders to open space up for Anthony, whose low cross from the left somehow bypassed three Cherries attackers looking to get onto the end of it.
The long-travelling United fans saw a net rustle of their own as Gibbs-White's free-kick diverted off substitute Oli McBurnie's head and the merest of whiskers wide, the behind and not the back of the net being hit by the ball.
A Sheffield surge was close to being pounced on six yards out by Billy Sharp, the offside flag momentarily raised regardless, Pearson soon requiring treatment but fit to continue after slipping and suffering a knock to his head.
Sharp had a clear opening after he was quick to turn onto a defensive miscontrol in the box, but after setting himself he could only fire over with Travers sharply off his line to minimise the opportunity.
Ben Davies headed down from a corner, but too sharply as his attempt bounced up and over the target.
At the other end, Christie cut inside his defender and set aim, but his lasered strike passed just the wrong side of the far post as the entertaining contest still searched for its first goal.
Morgan Gibbs-White and Anthony traded shots at either end with the final two attempts of the half, the rain still falling heavily as the players returned to the dressing rooms.
Within a minute of the restart the Cherries did everything but score following a frantic 20 seconds of action deep inside the Sheffield United penalty area.
A sliding through ball allowed Jordan Zemura to pull back for Solanke, the striker having two bites at the cherry but unable to beat Olsen, the ball bouncing up for Anthony only for his goal-bound header to be blocked away by a defender as the Blades survived.
An altercation near the corner flag ended with Adam Smith and Osborn receiving yellow cards, pulses raising across the rain-swept afternoon.
The away side grabbed a lead 11 minutes into the second half. Sharp controlling a bouncing ball and pulling back for Gibbs-White who swept the ball high into the net with a controlled first-time finish.
Four minutes later and Solanke's speed saw him past defenders, taken out and the home side awarded their first spot kick of the season.
Solanke took responsibility from 12 yards, sending Olsen the wrong way with a shot struck sweetly into the top corner.
The atmosphere swirling even more intensely than the weather in Vitality Stadium, within three minutes of drawing level the Cherries were ahead.
Christie was the man with the key to the Blades' defensive door, finding a pocket in the right of the box and sliding a ball across for Billing to stretch and slot home low from ten yards, before heading to the enraptured Bournemouth fans to celebrate.
The now behind Blades began to up the ante as they looked to restore their footing in the game, delivering a number of balls into the area that were cleared by the Cherries.
Still posing danger on the counter, Zemura slipped behind the away backline and rustled the wrong side of the net as the home side came close to putting the contest to bed as it clicked into its final ten minutes.
Substitute Jamal Lowe almost picked out Anthony with his first dribbling involvement, Smith soon playing keep ball in the offensive corner ahead of six additional minutes being signalled by the fourth official.
The points still far from secured, Mousset was alive at the back post and headed onto the frame of the goal in added time, Gary Cahill bravely denying McBurnie from the follow up as the home support willed their side to victory.
That desired result soon came with the home side seeing out their fourth straight home win - their late defensive effort confirming a rousing and hard fought come-from-behind success.
AFC Bournemouth: Travers, Smith, Kelly, Cahill, Zemura, Pearson, Lerma, Billing (Mepham 85'), Anthony, Christie (Lowe 88'), Solanke (Stacey 90')
Subs not used: Nyland, Brooks, Marcondes, Rogers.
Booked: Pearson, Smith, Zemura
Sheffield United: Olsen, Baldock (Basham 48'), Stevens, Fleck, Sharp (Mousset 73'), Egan, Norwood, Davies, Osborn, Gibbs-White, Ndiaye (McBurnie 73').
Subs not used: Foderingham, Brewster, McGoldrick, Hourihane.
Booked: Fleck, Osborn
Officials: Robert Jones (referee), Simon Long (assistant), Adrian Waters (assistant), Charles Breakspear (fourth official)