Graham Pearcey

Graham Pearcey

Cherries 2 Stoke 0

Date: 27 September 2023

Despite yet another difficult journey home at the end of the night, overall I was pleased to have gone to this match and witnessed a Cherries’ victory for the first time since 15 April.

Iraola had made some changes to the team for this cup game, but not as many as some previous coaches used to make! In any case the players brought in all had recent first team experience, while the rested players were available on the bench if needed. Smith was named as captain for the night, Neto being on the bench.

It was a poor first half, with no goals, and no evidence as to which was the Premier League team and which from the Championship. Stoke probably had the best chances but their shots all missed the target and their many corner kicks were poorly taken. Ouattara looked out of place on the left wing, and was our weakest link, but Iraola persisted with him in that position for the full ninety minutes. Smith was getting forward, overlapping with Brooks, very well on the opposite flank.

A double substitution at half time saw Solanke and Christie on for Semenyo and Traore. So the coach really was taking this match seriously. This had an immediate impact on our game, and we looked good now. Within six minutes a Rothwell free kick had been placed in the path of Smith, whose pass found the feet of Solanke, who scored easily from close range. It was good to see us 1-0 up, but worryingly our inability to score without Solanke raises questions about our strength (or lack of it) in depth.

Rothwell, who was featured in tonight’s matchday programme, takes the credit for the second goal too – his free kick going through a crowd of Bournemouth and Stoke players, direct into the net. He seemed to have done enough to earn the ‘man of the match’ award, but the sponsors gave that to Senesi. Anyway, it was now 2-0 with 54 minutes on the clock, and so it remained.

The coach, as he always does, used the maximum number of substitutions allowable – introducing Adams for Cook, Tavernier for Brooks, and Moore (who hardly got a touch) for an apparently injured Solanke. (Oh dear!) So this was Iraola’s second win in charge, both wins coming in league cup games. We were all relieved that it wasn’t going to penalties as it was a bitter cold night and much chillier than forecast. I was glad to hit the road before ten o’clock; I saw that the A3(M) was closed, so went for the M3 instead – but that turned out to be closed too and I finally got home at a quarter past midnight.

The team lined up as follows at the start of the game:

Smith, Zabarnyi, Senesi, Kerkez;
Cook, Rothwell;
Brooks, Traore, Ouattara;

By the end the line-up was:

Smith, Zabarnyi, Senesi, Kerkez;
Adams, Rothwell;
Tavernier, Christie, Ouattara;

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