Cherries earn first Merit League win
AFC Bournemouth Under-18s earned their first win in Merit League One with a 4-2 victory over Yeovil Town Under-18s on Saturday.
Goals from Luke Pardoe, James Oliver, and Jake Cope helped the Cherries come from behind against a Yeovil side who were also searching for their first win in the league.
The three points lift Bournemouth off the foot of the table and one point ahead of Yeovil, but the Glovers still have one game in hand.
The Cherries had statistically the leakiest defence in the league ahead of the game, having conceded 16 goals across their first six matches, and it didn’t take long for another to go against them, with Yeovil taking the lead inside just six minutes.
Playing with a lively tempo, the Glovers attacked in numbers, allowing number 10 to find the bottom left corner from the edge of the box with the first chance of the game.
Bournemouth responded well, growing into the game and forging chances of their own. Ben Greenwood hit the post from a crossing angle, before a misplaced Yeovil clearance led to Pardoe shooting just wide.
At the other end, making only his second appearance in a Bournemouth shirt, Rafal Danielsson showed great reflexes to save number eight’s volley from close range.
With ten minutes of the first half remaining, it felt as though an equaliser was coming, with Nathan Moriah-Welsh and Brennan Camp seeing shots go just over the bar for Bournemouth.
The pressure paid dividends, Pardoe netting the equaliser with a fine striker’s goal. The Bournemouth number nine charged into the box, wrong-footed a Yeovil defender and placed the ball calmly into the bottom left corner.
Half-time beckoning, Bournemouth weren’t about to take their foot off the gas. Zeno Ibsen Rossi made a brilliant block after a rebound had given Yeovil’s number nine a clear goal-scoring opportunity, before Oliver got Bournemouth’s second on the brink of the break.
Pushed wide to the right wing, Brooklyn Genesini sent in an accurate cross to the far post. Oliver’s connection was far from perfect, but it was enough for the ball to go over the line before the ‘keeper caught it. The linesman awarded it, the goal was given, and Bournemouth had the half-time lead.
Albeit, the lead was a slim one, and the Cherries knew there would be more goals in this game as they continued to attack in numbers. Moriah-Welsh saw a low shot expertly saved by the Yeovil ‘keeper, before Pardoe got his brace to relieve some of the tension.
There was an element of fortune about the goal, but it’s fair to say the Cherries made their own luck from the set-piece. Luke Gray’s corner was headed back across goal by Camp. Pardoe touched it onto the cross-bar, but was in the right place to nod in the re-bound for 3-1.
But Yeovil were no pushovers, and the Glovers pulled one back when a cross from the left wing deflected bizarrely off Genesini, onto the inside of the post and in. Bournemouth 3-2 up with 27 minutes left on the clock, the stage was set for a tense finale.
They almost had their insurance goal when a Genesini cross beat everyone but Oliver, whose shot trickled onto the post.
Yeovil put the pressure on in the final third during the game’s dying embers, but never created anything to truly trouble the Cherries. Nevertheless, their approach left themselves exposed to the counter-attack, and Bournemouth could smell the opportunity.
Into stoppage time, a clearance up the pitch from Camp was more precise than hopeful, picking out Cope with plenty of space to run into. He had options left and right, but confidently went for goal himself, striking the ball from distance into the bottom right corner on his left foot.
The Cherries could breathe a huge sigh of relief, as the 4-2 score-line marked another long-awaited three points.
Reflecting on the win with afcb.co.uk, Under-18s manager Alan Connell had this to say on the following topics…
BACK TO WINNING WAYS
“It’s more of a relief for the players than myself. We always put performances first, and if we get that right, hopefully the result will follow. Going forward, we looked a real threat and created numerous chances.
“A lot of that stemmed from playing forward to the forward runners at the right times. I was pleased with our attacking play. We could have scored a lot more than we did in what was a really entertaining game.”
RETURN OF CAMP AND IBSEN ROSSI
“They were the two second-years we played, and the rest were all first-years. I felt that they would add that stability. Because of the Under-21s games and [for Brennan] international duty, we haven’t had those two for a while.
“They are big misses but they’re going to be with the Under-21s next season, so it’s important that the boys are used to not having them around. But, they made a big difference and gave the forward players a platform to go and be creative and purposeful.”
DANIELSSON’S COOL DISTRIBUTION
“Rafal has only been with us a few weeks now, but he can be pleased with his efforts. He made on or two saves and tried to play out from the back for us. He was willing to take the ball, so definitely encouraging signs from him.”
“We’ve got Northampton Town Under-18s away on Saturday, which is our final away game of the season. We’ve got a long run of home games after that, and we love playing here at Canford, so we’re looking forward to those games.
“First and foremost, we’ve got to be resolute at Northampton and continue to play the way we play. I don’t care where we go, we stick to our principles, that’s non-negotiable and we’ll continue to do that.”
The AFC Bournemouth Under-18s side are sponsored by Strategic Solutions.