Charlie Taylor, yes Charlie Taylor gave us the lead in the eleventh minute but yet again we weren’t able to hold the lead and eventually fell to a 2-1 defeat, a result we really could have no complaints about in terms of how the two teams played.
After a number of coach trips this season thus far, and there will be more coming up soon, it was back to four of us travelling by car yesterday which necessitated a journey on the X43 to Prestwich for our meet up. The bus was running late and then opted to give some of the motorway a miss to go through Edenfield so we were a little late departing. It wasn’t the best of starts to the day and we were recommended a detour because of M42 problems which saw us take a new route. Otherwise, a good journey down and we were in our regular parking spot in good time and made our ten minute walk to the ground before it rained.
We were outside the ground at 2 p.m. when the team news came through. We knew there had to be one change with Connor Roberts suspended and it was no surprise to see him replaced by Vitinho. News came through that Lyle Foster was out with a reported illness and that saw Zeki Amdouni pushed forward with Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson returning. What was probably a surprise was to see three more changes as Sander Berge, Mike Trésor and Wilson Odobert give way to Josh Brownhill, Luca Koleosho and Anass Zaroury, the latter making his first Premier League start.
After a very respectful minute’s applause in remembrance of Sir Bobby Charlton and Bill Kenwright, we kicked off knowing that a win would move us out of the bottom three for a day at least and it all started well enough and with around ten minutes gone, the move started that led to us taking the lead.
It came from goalkeeper James Trafford whose long clearance found, of all players, Taylor making a run down the left. His cross didn’t find any Burnley player as Illia Zabarnyi got the ball out at the expense of a corner. Taylor met the corner only to see his shot deflect for a second corner.
This time, the corner, taken by Guðmundsson, was headed out by Zabarnyi whose header did no more than find Dara O’Shea on the edge of the box. O’Shea headed it down for Taylor who was not to be denied and his half volley flew into the net. It might have taken a slight touch off Amdouni but quite why there had to be a delay for a handball check is way beyond me but more on that subject later.
It was just the start we needed but, sadly, it was as good as it got for us on another desperately disappointing afternoon. Having failed to convert one good opportunity when Marcus Tavernier looked a certain scorer at the back post from a right wing cross, Bournemouth were soon level through Antoine Semenyo. It was another goal where we carelessly gave the ball away, this time goalscorer Taylor. Antoine Semenyo took it off him, moved forward and shot into the bottom corner of the net.
We were just about approaching the half way point in the first half and the next period up to half time was a tough watch with Bournemouth the better of the two sides. They forced Trafford into a couple of saves and when that half time whistle blew the one consolation was that we went in level and they hadn’t created too much in terms of goalscoring opportunities.
Nothing much changed after the break with Bournemouth looking the more likely to get the next important goal. We really weren’t threatening at all and it seemed for long periods that it was all about ensuring we wouldn’t concede a second.
I had those thoughts shoved right back in my face when we hit the self-destruct button called giving the ball away yet again. This time it was Vitinho although I don’t think we could have expected Philip Billing to then shoot from 45-yards and beat the stranded Trafford who did get a touch could not prevent it going in.
Frankly, at that point, a defeat looked nailed on and that’s how it ended, although not without its controversy. In the 89th minute, three of our substitutes linked up. Berge took the ball from Trafford and moved forward with it, something he does so well. He found Nathan Redmond who in turn played a really good ball to Jay Rodriguez. The striker took it in his stride and placed a delightful shot into the far bottom corner.
I jumped up to celebrate but then saw the assistant’s flag up for offside. At that point you don’t think of VAR but of course it had to be checked. What happened next was utter nonsense led by VAR official David Coote. Whatever was happening, of course, those of us who had paid to watch had no idea other than there was an offside VAR check.
Eventually, just a few seconds short of five and a half minutes, the goal was ruled out. Quite how on earth it can take that long is beyond me. PGMOL have made fools of themselves with this and the game really is suffering at their hands. Without VAR in use, the goal would have been disallowed; I’m OK with that, I can accept that decision. I don’t want to have to wait that long with no information whatsoever. I felt sorry for match referee Sam Barrott who must have wondered what on earth was going on during that time. I’d love to hear what was being said.
Eventually we got going again and there was to be even more controversy. Seven minutes were initially added on and just a few seconds past that, following a corner, we got a cross in to the far post. The goalkeeper saved from Berge with the ball eventually landing on the top of the net. What we couldn’t see from our vantage point was Bournemouth’s Chris Mepham potentially handling the ball. There was no apparent VAR check; have Bournemouth got away with one?
We’d no idea how long the game was going to go on referee Barrott finally blew for the last time after eleven minutes of stoppage time with the result moving Bournemouth out of the bottom three and Burnley dropping to 19th.
But VAR cannot be allowed to take the headlines away from what really was a dreadful performance from us that has left us with four points from our opening ten games. We didn’t ever expect to be up there with the front runners when the season kicked off but I think we all expected to be better placed than we are. Quite simply, if performances don’t improve on this and the previous week at Brentford then you really do have to start asking how we are going to avoid an instant return to the Championship. Bournemouth were far from a decent side but they were better than us and it was they, ultimately, who deserved the points.
It’s a long way home when you’ve played like that and come away with nothing but at least we have a favoured venue when journeying home from that neck of the woods so it was first stop in Abingdon and I can confirm that it didn’t disappoint.
Then it was back to Prestwich for the Exam around 12:20 a.m. It was packed and standing room only until Rawtenstall and then, finally, home. It had been a good day out all round, over eighteen hours from leaving to getting home, but the main objective was to see Burnley play well and win. We got neither.
The teams were;
Bournemouth: Andrei Radu, Max Aarons (Adam Smith 85), Chris Mepham, Illia Zabarnyi, Lloyd Kelly, Alex Scott, Philip Billing (Joe Rothwell 82), Antoine Semenyo (Dango Ouattara 69), Ryan Christie, Marcus Tavernier (Milos Kerkez 82), Dominic Solanke. Subs not used: Mark Travers, David Brooks, Luis Sinisterra, Justin Kluivert, Kieffer Moore.
Yellow Cards: Philip Billing, Dango Ouattara.
Burnley: James Trafford, Vitinho, Dara O’Shea, Ameen Al-Dakhil, Charlie Taylor, Josh Cullen (Sander Berge 60), Josh Brownhill, Luca Koleosho (Mike Trésor 81), Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson (Nathan Redmond 81), Anass Zaroury (Jacob Bruun Larsen 68), Zeki Amdouni (Jay Rodriguez ). Subs not used: Arijanet Muric, Hannes Delcroix, Jack Cork, Wilson Robert.
Yellow Cards: Josh Cullen, Charlie Taylor, Ameen Al-Dakhil.