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First Team

Cherries begin by beating Blackburn


AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

AFC Bournemouth began with a bang as they took the lead three times and eventually held firm to claim a 3-2 win over Blackburn Rovers.

Jack Stacey's powerful low strike from distance put home noses in front midway through the first half, only for Bradley Johnson to level matters shortly before the break.

The hosts restored their lead when Jefferson Lerma converted after being teed up by Dominic Solanke in the 53rd minute, though Rovers would find parity again through Adam Armstrong.

Arnaut Danjuma then had the final word in an entertaining encounter, skipping inside and producing a terrific finish to win the game inside the final ten minutes at Vitality Stadium.

Jason Tindall named Mark Travers as his goalkeeper with his first competitive selection as manager, Steve Cook named as captain and joined by Chris Mepham and Lloyd Kelly in a back three.

The clouds parted and bright sun shone down as Solanke kicked-off the Cherries' Championship campaign, kicking towards the Ted MacDougall Stand in the first half.

From the opening moments contrasting styles were on display, the hosts looking to pass the ball through the thirds while Blackburn favoured a more direct and physical approach.

Some quick interplay opened space for a 20-yard shot from Lewis Cook, the effort slashed off target, though there was otherwise little in the way of goalscoring opportunities in the opening quarter.

Mepham bravely intervened as Rovers forward Ben Brereton looked to power in a header, the Cherries breaking and winning a corner as the dangerous-looking Danjuma faced-up Derrick Williams.

From the set piece Stacey gave the home side the lead with a stunning effort.

The corner had been taken short, with Junior Stanislas collecting the ball near the apex and passing square to Stacey. The full-back took a touch and unleashed a rasping low drive from 25 yards that kissed off the post, the side's first goal of the season and his first in Cherries colours.

Holtby turned and fired well wide from range as Blackburn looked for a quick response, Brereton soon seeing a shot blocked, though the Cherries remained in control.

However, the visitors did have their leveler on 42 minutes when Johnson took aim from a similar distance to Stacey, his skidding effort reached by Travers' dive only for the ball to slither through the Ireland international and into the net. 

Danjuma won a free-kick that Stanislas fired over the bar, but before play could restart the referee blew his half-time whistle with the sides knotted at 1-1. 

There was no change in personnel for either side as the second period began, Johnson slicing a good opportunity wide for Rovers not long after the restart as the ball fell to him in the area.

With the Cherries soon taking the initiative and pinning the visitors back for a number of minutes Lerma fired Bournemouth back into the lead.

The ball was played into Solanke's feet in the area, the number nine turning and eschewing a shot himself to set up Lerma, the Colombian striding onto the ball and finding the bottom corner with a crisp hit from just inside the box.

Stanislas brought the ball forward, fed to Danjuma who squared for Solanke as the Cherries chased a third - and they would have had it but for debutant Rovers 'keeper Thomas Kaminski's fine blocking save.

Armstrong flashed shot narrowly over from 18 yards after finding space to shoot, and in the 73rd minute the striker did find the target, turning sharply in the area before burying a low finish.

With just over ten minutes remaining David Brooks was introduced, replacing Mepham, as the home side increased their attacking options in pursuit of a third lead in the contest.

Instead, the net was soon ruffled at the other end, Lewis Holtby sliding a shot home from a low centre but instantly seeing his effort ruled out for offside. Substitute Tyrhys Dolan then shot across goal but wide, with both sides chasing a winner.

The Cherries would find the game's fifth goal, and Danjuma notched it in fine style.

Adam Smith played the winger into space on the left and he cut inside his man and onto his right foot before blasting an unstoppable strike into the far corner.

Rovers reverted to type, looking to be direct in pursuit of their third to claim something from the frenetic match.

But for a brave and crucial Kelly block Blackburn would have scored a third equaliser late on, but the home side stood firm to claim all three points and a very positive first-day outcome.

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