AFC Bournemouth rose to the top of the Sky Bet Championship on Saturday afternoon, after edging out Cardiff City in an eight-goal thriller.
The Bluebirds couldn’t have endured a worse start at the Goldsands Stadium, conceding to the home side within the first minute of the game. Callum Wilson was afforded too much space down to the Bournemouth left, drilling his ball across field for Matt Ritchie to side-foot home the easiest of finishes.
GOAL: AFC BOURNEMOUTH 1-0 CARDIFF CITY (Ritchie, 1)
Bournemouth were in confident spirits on the back of such a promising start, though as the game went on beyond the opening 10 minutes, Cardiff began to find some rhythm. Their outlet, mainly, appeared to be Kim Bo-Kyung’s right channel, and indeed good link up play between he and Adam Le Fondre led to a seemingly reasonable penalty shout when the latter drilled his ball across goal and saw it deflect wide off Elphick’s outstretched arm.
Indeed Cardiff continued to find forward momentum and pushed a previously rampant Bournemouth back into their own half for good spells. City were beginning to win the midfield battle, with Aron Gunnarsson and Peter Whittingham both having half chances inside the Cherries’ area. On 37 minutes, sturdy forward play almost saw Kenwyne Jones profit from close range, only for good last ditch Bournemouth defending.
But two minutes before the interval, the home side doubled their advantage. Charlie Daniels found a huge pocket of space on City’s right hand side, freeing the ball to Brett Pitman inside the area. The striker did well to take David Marshall out of the game while retaining possession, laying the ball back to Harry Arter who struck home from the edge of the area past an unsighted Marshall.
GOAL: AFC BOURNEMOUTH 2-0 CARDIFF CITY (Arter, 43)
Then, on the stroke of half time, City found a route back into the game. Very poor defending by Steve Cook saw Le Fondre break free and slip Jones in to strike home from close range – it appeared like a lifeline. It was, though, heartbreaking for the visitors who a minute into injury time allowed the Cherries to re-establish their two-goal advantage as Marc Pugh curled home superbly past a helpless David Marshall.
GOAL: AFC BOURNEMOUTH 2-1 CARDIFF CITY (Jones, 45)
GOAL: AFC BOURNEMOUTH 3-1 CARDIFF CITY (Pugh, 45+1)
HALF TIME: AFC BOURNEMOUTH 3-1 CARDIFF CITY
Substitution, Cardiff City: Kim Bo-Kyung replaced by Kadeem Harris (45 minutes)
Kadeem Harris replaced Kim Bo-Kyung at half time and his incisive running caused immediate danger to Bournemouth. A good break from the centre of the park to find Craig Noone eventually saw Jones take the ball of Boruc before the striker saw his effort cleared off the line. Then, from the resulting corner, Sean Morrison saw his header cleared from a similar position – only for the centre half to tower home his header from Peter Whittingham’s follow up delivery. City were back in it once more.
GOAL: AFC BOURNEMOUTH 3-2 CARDIFF CITY (Morrison, 47)
Substitution, AFC Bournemouth: Brett Pitman replaced by Yann Kermogant (60 minutes)
Cardiff were undoubtedly better after the interval, though the home side continually looked a threat when breaking at pace. Two Bournemouth claims for Cardiff to be penalized were waved away; firstly David Marshall was adjudged to have handled legally inside his area, albeit very close to its edge, before Morrison’s stern tackle on Wilson inside the area was also deemed fair.
It was, however, a foul on the edge of the box by Matt Connolly that saw Bournemouth score their fourth. A figure familiar to Cardiff City fans from his time with Leicester City, Yann Kermorgant, stepped up to strike home over the wall past a stranded Marshall. It was an unstoppable set piece.
GOAL: AFC BOURNEMOUTH 4-2 CARDIFF CITY (Kermorgant, 66)
Substitution, Cardiff City: Kenwyne Jones replaced by Federico Macheda (70 minutes)
This was proving to be an incredible game of football on the South Coast, and with 13 minutes left to play, the Bluebirds clawed their way back into things once more. Good play by Craig Noone led to a City corner from the left, one that Whittingham whipped in to allow Morrison to climb highest once more and head home for 4-3. It would set up an incredible finish at the Goldsands.
GOAL: AFC BOURNEMOUTH 4-3 CARDIFF CITY (Morrison, 77)
The narrative seemed to be continuing from the very next attack, though the Cherries saw a fifth strike breach Marshall’s goal only for the referee to rule it out for offside. Matt Ritchie, denied what would have been a very smart finish indeed.
Substitution, Cardiff City: Aron Gunnarsson replaced by Tom Adeyemi (83 minutes)
City continued to push and may have nicked a point late on. Firstly, Craig Noone was denied by Boruc as he looked to take advantage of a sloppy back pass; then, substitute Tom Adeyemi fired over with an overhead kick from close range.
And with the Bluebirds pushing everything forward in search of a last minute equalizer, they were caught out at the back by the otherwise quiet Wilson. The in form striker burst clear of the offside trap, before rounding Marshall and slotting home Bournemouth’s fifth. Five minutes of injury time brought nothing more, signaling the end of an enthralling fixture.
FINAL SCORE: AFC BOURNEMOUTH 5-3 CARDIFF CITY
AFC Bournemouth: Boruc, Daniels, Elphick, Cook, Francis, Pugh, Surman, Arter, Ritchie, Wilson, Pitman. Subs: Camp, Smith, Gosling, O’Kane, Stanislas, Fraser, Kermorgant.
Cardiff City: Marshall, Brayford, Turner, S. Morrison, Connolly, Noone, Whittingham, Gunnarsson, Kim, Jones, Le Fondre. Subs: Moore, Fabio, Manga, Ralls, Adeyemi, Harris, Macheda.