CHERRIES TO PROMOTION
NOTTS COUNTY..1 Ten-man County go down
BOURNEMOUTH manager Eddie Howe is keeping his fingers crossed that striker Brett Pitman can maintain his purple patch right the way through to the end of the season.
Pitman netted for the sixth game in succession as the Cherries came from behind to see off ten-man Notts County at Dean Court.
The Jerseyman, a bargain £60,000 buy from Bristol City in January, plundered his 15th goal of the campaign to help Bournemouth open a fivepoint gap in second place.
Howe said: “Brett is a goalscorer and a scorer of great goals. His strike in this game was excellent.
“I have watched him since his time in the youth team here and he has always scored goals. I am delighted with him and still think there is more to come. Hopefully, we can keep him scoring for the final three games.”
Pitman, who initially returned to his former club on loan in November, fired the hosts in front with a venomous drive midway through the first half.
His effort helped Bournemouth recover from a poor start with County taking the lead through a Jeff Hughes header after just 96 seconds.
However, Matt Ritchie restored parity, making space for a ferocious leftfooted strike after 17 minutes before Pitman made it 2-1 with a somewhat controversial second.
County appealed in vain for the strike to be chalked off, claiming Matt Tubbs had handled in the lead up to the goal. Referee David Phillips, however, was unmoved.
The visitors’ plight worsened when midfielder Andre Boucaud was sent off for collecting a second booking on the stroke of half-time.
Although County were not without their chances in the second half, Ritchie completed the scoring late on to give Bournemouth’s promotion push another boost.
Howe added: “I was really pleased we came from behind to win because it isn’t something we have done particularly well at home this season. Going behind so early was a real test for us and, fair play to the players because it was a really good effort. We scored at a really good time to make it 1-1 and we scored some great goals. It will give us huge confidence going into the remaining three games.
“We expected Notts County to play and they were brave on the ball. Even with 10 men, they were very good. We also expected to create chances and we did. I would like to have seen the third goal sooner because, at that stage, the game was still very much in the balance.”
County manager Chris Kiwomya was critical of referee Phillips and said:“I thought it was going to be a good game between two good attacking teams but the referee spoiled it.
“I was disappointed with him. He has got to play his part in the game and we didn’t agree with a lot of his decisions. On another day, and with 11 men, maybe we would gone on to draw or even win the game. The ten men who finished the game were magnificent and gave their all.
“I thought we started well and they got back into the game but even the goals they scored could have been avoided. Even though we had our backs to the wall in the second half, we created some good chances and should have scored.
“It was a mental battle with ten men.
“If you are not solid and determined, you could go down five or six and then heads would have dropped but we stayed in the game.
The third goal killed us off.” KARL Robinson says his MK Dons team must win all their remaining games if they are to reach the play-offs, following their frustrating goalless draw with Crawley.
Ryan Lowe had three goals disallowed for offside as the Dons failed to convert their dominance into a third straight win.
The Dons are now seven points adrift of the play-off places with five games remaining but Robinson insists they can still sneak in.
He said:“It’s win all-out on Tuesday against Swindon now. It’s noholds-barred, we’ve got to win all the games so at least we know where we are.
“We’re far from out of it – if we perform like that from now until the end of the season I think we will win all our games and that will be enough.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for Richie Barker and his team but I think we’ve pummelled them out there.
“We had so many chances, I’m absolutely shell-shocked we didn’t win.
“But Ryan’s second goal was definitely onside, I’ve seen it again.”
Lowe had a header and a tap-in ruled out and then curled another shot just over the crossbar before his close-range half-volley was brilliantly saved by Paul Jones.
Dons forward Dean Bowditch also blasted a 25yard drive inches wide of the post before crossing low for
POWERLESS: Ryan Allsop can do nothing to stop Notts County’s early opener but the hosts recovered
RESILIENT: Shaun Williams of MK Dons