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First team

Billing serves up in Millers win


AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Philip Billing was the matchwinner for a second straight home game as his first-half strike saw off Rotherham United in a 1-0 home win.

The Denmark international celebrated his return to the starting 11 with a commanding finish to give the Cherries the opener midway through the opening period.

AFC Bournemouth held the lead to the break despite United regularly getting into dangerous positions via aerial balls into the box.

In the second half Asmir Begovic was the busier of the 'keepers, the home defence needing to be at their very best right to the end to fend off United's physical attacks.

They managed to do so and pick up a priceless set of three points in their race to shorten their promotion odds.

For his third game in caretaker charge, Jonathan Woodgate made four changes to his line-up, one enforced with captain Steve Cook missing through injury. Into the side came Lloyd Kelly, Lewis Cook, Billing and, up front, Sam Surridge. 

The wind swirling around Vitality Stadium as the Millers got the match started, they soon won the game's first corner as they began their threat of utilising their size and physical presence.

Arnaut Danjuma gave visiting 'keeper Viktor Johansson has first real call to action when the forward turned on the edge of the box and fizzed in a low drive that the stopper was able to gather centrally.

With both sides increasingly displaying attacking intent, it was the hosts who struck first with a slick counter-attacking move.

The ball worked cleanly by Surridge to the bursting run of Adam Smith on the right, the full-back cut back from the byline, Junior Stanislas leaving the ball for Billing who controlled with his first touch before slamming home with his second from ten yards out.

The United aerial bombardment continued with Asmir Begovic twice off his line to smartly punch away, both times his defenders completing the clearances.

The lively Danjuma was in the action again as he controlled a bouncing ball on the 18-yard line, touching inside and delivering a shot that he couldn't connect perfectly with, allowing Johansson to save.

Michael Smith smuggled in a low cross to strike partner Matt Crooks as the visitors made inroads, the front man managed to turn but from a tight angle could only find the side netting with Begovic covering his near post well.

Rotherham had a golden chance to level just ahead of the break when Dan Barlaser had the chance to deliver a free-kick in the danger zone. Michael Ihiekwe connected at the back post, the ball centred for Richard Wood, but with the ball falling just behind him the defender couldn't find the target from three yards out. 

The Cherries surviving the scare, they returned to their dressing room with their slender lead intact.

With no changes for either side at the break, Begovic was at his best to deny Crooks, looking to sidefoot Wood's cross home, the Bosnian spread himself to make the save, though the assistant's flag was soon raised anyway for an offside.

David Brooks came on in place of Danjuma, Billing next taking sight again, this time from long range, his shot rebounding off the arm of Wood in the area, referee Keith Stroud waving away home appeals.

Ben Wiles came close to a stunning leveller, only repelled by a brilliant Begovic save. The Millers midfielder had arrowed in an angled volley from distance, somehow clawed out of the top corner by the Cherries' 'keeper.

A second almost came for Bournemouth when a swung-in ball almost picked out Surridge under the crossbar, opponent Michael Smith soon picking up a yellow for a late tackle on Lewis Cook, the Rotherham man's final action before being substituted - the Millers still confident in their search for a way back into the game.

One of the visiting substitutes, striker Freddie Ladapo, almost made an immediate impact, latching onto Wood's ball through but sending his shot wastefully over when Begovic would have expected to be needed.

The game entering its final knockings, Jefferson Lerma ploughed in a low shot that Johannsson saved and held onto to.

Frenetic to the end, Stanislas found space and forced Johansson into a fine diving save, Brooks late on swerving an effort just wide of the upright, the octane high until the final whistle, with Surridge also having an effort that was saved.

The ultimate signal from the referee did com,e however, the Cherries safely holding onto their advantage to seal their crucial home win.

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