By Danny Lewis
As Tony Pulis’ West Bromwich Albion side hosted his former team AFC Bournemouth it was a game that saw two red cards, three goals, two of which came in the last quarter of an hour and plenty of action from both sides.
The game really came to life in the second half after a goalless first half that had seen West Brom turn very defensive after James McLean was sent off. It was an Adam Smith goal that put Bournemouth ahead and forced West Brom to open up the game.
This seemed to have paid off for the Baggies as they equalised through a Gareth McAuley header. However, a Charlie Daniels penalty kick put Bournemouth ahead right near the end and saw them walk away with all three points.
Things only got worse for West Brom when Salamon Rondon was sent off for a headbutt and Jonny Evans considered himself lucky that he didn’t see red as well.
The first half started off with Cherries in control of the game, as they played the ball around in a way that showed the confidence that their recent wins would have inevitably given them. There was some great wing play and interplay throughout the first half from Bournemouth, but the final ball was often lacking, as a number of their crosses were collected by Baggies keeper Boaz Myhill.
There was an early strike from Junior Stanislas that tested Myhill in the second minute, but despite their early dominance they didn’t really get many shots on goal. Cherries had to wait until late on in the half to really get many more chances, as Glenn Murray and Matt Ritchie came close to scoring at the end of the half.
The biggest moment of the first half was undoubtedly the sending off of James McLean. He was given a straight red for a dangerous and needless tackle on Adam Smith near the halfway line. It was clear that he felt hard done by about a decision given against him seconds before, but he went about avenging that in the wrong way and was quickly given his marching orders.
As AFC Bournemouth went in for the half time break, they had everything that they could have wanted apart from a breakthrough goal.
They didn’t have to wait too much longer for the breakthrough goal though, as it came in the 52nd minute through a smart piece of play from Adam Smith. A diagonal ball was played by Andrew Surman and the Bournemouth right back cut inside Chris Brunt and sent a left footed shot into the bottom corner of Myhill’s goal from outside of the box.
Cherries spent a lot of the time after this on top, as the ten men of West Brom tried to get back into the game. However, the Baggies begun to turn it around with twenty minutes remaining and begun to put pressure on Bournemouth’s defence after bringing on ex-Saints striker Rickie Lambert.
This pressure paid off for West Brom as Gareth McAuley headed home a Craig Gardner corner with the help of the far post to draw the sides level in the 79th minute.
That goal caused the game to open up and both teams were attacking each other in search of a win which saw the game take up a rapid pace and become very end to end. Both sides looked like scoring, however the game was tipped in favour of the Cherries when Darren Fletcher halted a Dan Gosling run by tripping him up and giving a penalty away in the process.
It was a clear foul - However - it is debatable whether it was a penalty or free kick, but that didn’t matter to Charlie Daniels, who sent the ball flying into the top right corner from the spot to put Bournemouth into the lead with only three minutes of normal time remaining.
Following that Jonny Evans committed fouls on Tokelo Rantie, Matt Ritchie and Yann Kermorgant and was walking a thin tightrope, as he could have easily been given a second yellow card after picking up his first in the first half.
There was a last bit of drama for the game as Salamon Rondon was sent off for a headbutt after his challenge on Dan Gosling caused a stir amongst the two sets of players in the 95th minute. Adam Smith also picked up a yellow card.
This concluded the action and AFC Bournemouth walked away from the Hawthorns with a well deserved 2-1 victory that saw their winning streak extended to three games.
This takes them five points ahead of the relegation zone with Swansea City playing West Ham United tomorrow. This game was a very different proposition to the Chelsea and Manchester United victories, but this will give them the same confidence and can be seen as an important victory for the Cherries who make it three wins out of three, and go five games unbeaten in the Premier League.