Cherries held in six-goal thriller
AFC Bournemouth Under-18s were forced to settle for their first point in Merit League One, as Peterborough Under-18s came from behind to salvage a 3-3 draw.
In an entertaining clash, Luke Pardoe’s opener got the Cherries going early on but a Peterborough equaliser four minutes later meant the celebrations were brief.
Half-time substitute Euan Pollock scored with half an hour remaining, before Pardoe completed his brace which looked set to secure Alan Connell’s side their first win in Merit League One.
It wasn’t to be however, as Peterborough scored two goals in 12 minutes, the latter with the final kick of the game, to ensure the points were shared.
Will Dennis was kept busy between the sticks for the Cherries, making his first save nine minutes in to deny Peterborough’s number seven from getting an early goal.
At the other end, Bournemouth took the lead via the Luke Gray and Pardoe partnership, Gray switching the ball precisely from left to right, allowing Pardoe to cut inside and curl it beautifully into the far corner with his left foot.
Keen to avoid being behind for long, Peterborough’s number seven equalised just four minutes later with an accurate free-kick.
In an end-to-end first half, Dennis continued to show good reflexes to get down low and prevent the away side from taking the lead.
Bournemouth came out of the half-time break looking more lively, as Connor Kurran-Browne hit a shot onto the bar with his first touch after receiving the ball inside the box.
Pollock, one of the Cherries youngest players and on as a half-time substitute, took just 15 minutes to get himself on the scoresheet. Bournemouth’s midfield trialist charged into the box before pulling it back to Pollock to nestle into the bottom left corner for 2-1.
Two minutes later, Gray and Pardoe delivered again, the former spraying a perfect through ball from back to front allowing Pardoe to round the ‘keeper and effortlessly put the ball into the net to give Bournemouth a 3-1 lead.
Bournemouth would rue their missed chances, with Harvey Bertrand heading over from Pollock’s cross among those that could have put the result beyond any doubt.
Pollock continued to look lively in and around the box, but Peterborough struck next, number seven capitalising on a misplaced pass to comfortably find the bottom left corner from close range.
The home side weren’t about to shut up shop, and created another chance going forward in the games dying embers as Gray had a shot saved, but they were punished for not putting the game to bed when a stoppage time penalty was tucked away confidently by Peterborough’s number seven. The hat-trick capped off an admirable individual performance in an entertaining game.
Speaking to afcb.co.uk, Under-18s manager Alan Connell had this to say on the following topics...
MIXING TRIALISTS INTO THE TEAM
"It’s obviously a difficult environment when you come into somewhere you don’t know, so it’s important that our players help and take responsibility with what we expect from them.
"We moved the ball well, especially in wide areas, particularly on the right-hand side. That’s where we got our first goal from, but we didn’t consistently do things well enough.
"There were glimpses of good play and moving the ball quickly with quality. It was a game we were very much in control of but the naivety of such a young team eventually meant that we drew the game."
"Luke does everything right every day. He works very hard and is a very good kid who epitomises the standards that we want from our players as people first and foremost."
POLLOCK MAKING THE STEP UP FROM UNDER-16s
"Euan’s a goalscorer and he took his goal really well. There’s a lot more to come from him and we’ll demand a bit more of him. He got on in the FA Youth Cup against Manchester City, and with his attitude I expect him to progress quickly.
"I expect him to make a statement early on in the youth team rather than be someone who flourishes late in his time with us."
"We’ve got Exeter away next, and the team has evolved since we last played them, with a number of our second-years out on loans or with the Under-21s.
"The first-years and the Under-16s need to step up, so I need to see a more mature performance in certain aspects than I saw today.
"The intensity and the work rate from the first-years is okay at times, but they need to learn from what they’ve seen from the second-years this season that it’s got to be for the whole game."
The AFC Bournemouth Under-18s side are sponsored by Strategic Solutions.