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NICK SZCZEPANIK’S PRESS VERDICT: AFC BOURNEMOUTH

6 January 2019

Paul Hazlewood
The press have had their say on Albion's win at AFC Bournemouth.
The FA Cup third round poses a problem for media organisations. With 32 matches to cover, resources are stretched, so while the big names will be sent to classic ties such as Blackpool v Arsenal or Woking v Watford, less attractive fixtures will disappear into general round-ups or be reported by freelancers or agencies.
 
As a game between two middle-of-the-table Premier League clubs who were sure to field much-changed teams, Albion’s visit to Bournemouth fell somewhere in the middle.
 
It was part of a round-up in The Observer which noted that “Anthony Knockaert’s first in 12 games and further goals from Yves Bissouma and Florin Andone helped Brighton into the FA Cup fourth round for the ninth time in 10 seasons. Marc Pugh’s strike briefly had Bournemouth thinking of a second-half comeback, with the midfielder scoring his first goal since August 2017. But when Andone nodded in after a messy corner, the tide turned Brighton’s way.”
 
Nick Purewal of the Press Association was reporting for The Independent under the headline “Bournemouth suffer more third-round woe as Brighton prove too strong,” a reference to the home side’s third successive FA Cup exit at this stage. 
 
 
He focused on the struggles of Bournemouth’s back-up strikeforce, perhaps offering an explanation of the club’s decision to invest £19m in supposed Albion target Dominic Solanke.
 
“Lys Mousset and Jordon Ibe were handed chances to impress up front for the Cherries, with England striker Dominic Solanke waiting in the wings for bigger challenges ahead having signed from Liverpool on Friday,” he wrote.
 
“Neither Mousset nor Ibe have been able to justify their squad numbers of nine and 10 in their time at Dean Court so far - and this outing proved no exception to those struggles. This tie turned entirely on Mousset's abysmal miss, in a sequence where Ibe's dalliance cost him a clear, point-blank sight on goal. The French forward fired over from eight yards out with an empty net at his mercy, after Ibe's shot had been blocked by Duffy.”
 
 
Mail on Sunday staff man Adam Crafton took up the story. “In that moment, the momentum of this game inexorably shifted,” he wrote. “Within six minutes, Brighton were two goals ahead and even for a team of Bournemouth's impressive powers of recovery, a genuine fightback did not seem likely on this occasion.
 
“Brighton's squad has real depth in the attacking positions these days and despite making eight changes, Chris Hughton was able to field expensive recruits such as Yves Bissouma and Jurgen Locadia, while an adventurous team also included goalscorers Anthony Knockaert and Florin Andone.
 
“Locadia provided the invention to create the first, back-heeling the ball into the path of Knockaert, who set himself before arrowing low and hard into the corner of the Bournemouth goal.
 
“Three minutes later, the advantage was doubled. The creative midfielder Bissouma has demonstrated glimpses of his talent since his £12m summer transfer from Lille but this was a wonderful goal, finding space in midfield before winding up from 25 yards out and drilling the ball into the corner.”
 
 
Since the buy-out of the Express and Star by the Mirror, all three papers’ Sunday editions (and The People) often carry the same report, on this occasion written by local agency man Alex Crook. He concentrated mainly on Cherries boss Eddie Howe admitting that Solanke is injured and will not play until next month, but he also described Albion’s second as “a cracker from Yves Bissouma.”
 
Jack Skelton wrote on the BBC website that “the hosts were still dangerous in attack and threatened a comeback when Surman slid a pass to Pugh, who rolled his man and smashed his shot inside the far post for his first goal in 17 months.
 
“But their lack of defensive cohesion showed once again, Brighton scoring from their first corner of the game as Boruc flapped loosely at the ball and Duffy was left free at the back post to head it across for Andone to turn in.
 
“Even then, Bournemouth had chances to at least claim a replay, but [Jason] Steele was equal to everything, diving to his left to deny substitute Brooks and then high to his right to keep Cook's looping header out of the top corner.
 
“Brighton were clinical, scoring with all three of their shots on target against a Cherries defence that has now conceded 15 goals in their last four games in all competitions.”
 
Tom Prentki, writing for both the Sunday Times and Sunday Telegraph, wrote:  “Brighton’s manager was pragmatic in his hopes for the draw. ‘I don’t have any problem saying that I’d like a home tie against a team not in the Premier League’.”

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