By Tommy Churchyard (@tommychurchyard)
AFC Bournemouth put in a gutsy performance to keep Tottenham Hotspur at bay this afternoon, in what was a feisty goalless draw.
Both sides hit the woodwork in the first half and the two teams will feel they could have taken all three points from the game. But neither side will be too disappointed with a point, which was probably the fair result in the end.
Eddie Howe and Mauricio Pochettino both directed their teams to play a high tempo pressing game, which made it a very competitive affair. Five yellow cards were awarded in the first half alone, four of which were shown to Spurs’ players.
The main talking point from the second half involved substitute Moussa Sissoko, who will definitely be counting his lucky stars tonight after he got away without punishment for a clear elbow on Harry Arter. It appeared to be a straight red card offence, which left Arter fuming at the lack of reaction from the referee.
Both teams came storming out the blocks at kick off, but it was Bournemouth who almost went ahead inside the first 5 minutes. Following a short corner routine, Charlie Daniels found the ball at his feet 6 yards from goal and should have scored, but Hugo Lloris pulled off a remarkable save with his legs to force it on to the bar.
Shortly after it was Tottenham’s turn to hit the woodwork. Intricate link up play between Deli Alli and Erik Lamela lead to the latter sending a curing effort towards goal from the edge of the box and Arter Boruc was relieved to see it clip the top of the upright.
Spurs had control of the game in the first half an hour and almost broke the deadlock through Christian Eriksen, but his deflected shot was tipped round the post well by Boruc.
The Cherries fans weren’t impressed with referee Craig Pawson, who could’ve shown Erik Lamela a second yellow late in the first half. Having already been booked, Lamela took out Dan Gosling in a late challenge that 10,000 Cherries’ thought deserved further punishment.
The first period ended with Bournemouth on top and Callum Wilson had two chances to put them ahead. A misplaced header from 12 yards and a toe-poke wide from the edge of the six-yard box wrapped up an entertaining, but goalless, half of football.
Neither team came out with as much energy in the second half, which led to a much cagier affair.
Dele Alli had the first chance of the half. He picked the ball up 30 yards out, turned well and rifled it towards goal, forcing Boruc to make a good save to his right.
Tottenham looked the better side in the second period, with Lamela at the heart of their attacking play. He found himself through on goal after a wonderful flick from Eriksen, but Simon Francis recovered tremendously to deny him.
A minute later Lamela again found himself with space in the box, but fired over from a tight angle 10 yards out.
Both managers made substitutions to try and spark some energy into their sides, but Spurs should have been a man down with 10 minutes remaining after substitute Sissoko clearly elbowed Arter on the sideline. The referee ignored the Bournemouth protests and chose not to get his cards out.
Bournemouth finished the game as the much better side and had two late opportunities to nick the three points. Substitute Max Gradel was sent through two-on-one with Wilshire in support, but chose to go alone and could only win a corner for his side. Another substitute, Benik Afobe, headed onto the roof of the net after meeting a cross from Francis.
The game finished 0-0, a result Eddie Howe was pleased with the result:
“Very pleased [with the point]. I was really proud of the players today, probably more proud than I was this time last week, when I sat here on the back of a 6-1 win because of the quality of opposition we were playing against.
“From our perspective our game plan was to try and disrupt their rhythm, their normal way of playing. They’re supremely talented players and we felt our best option was to stop the ball getting into the final third with our work rate and intensity. Easier said than done but the players have gone out and delivered an incredible physical performance.”
Bournemouth: Bourc; Smith, Francis, Cook, Daniels; King (Fraser 87’), Gosling, Arter, Ibe (Gradel 60’); Wilshire; Wilson (Afobe 81’).
Tottenham: Lloris; Walker, Dier, Vertonghen, Rose; Dembele, Wanyama; Lamela, Alli (Sissoko 71’), Eriksen; Son (Janssen 61’)