NATURAL BOURNE THRILLERS!
Cherries run riot as shattered Blackpool boss Clark apologises
SOMETIMES you can blame the ref. Sometimes pure bad luck. And sometimes, there is no option but to admit you’ve been butchered.
“I’m angry, I’m embarrassed, I’m disappointed – all of those things,” said shell-shocked Blackpool boss Lee Clark. “I want to apologise to our supporters and I don’t for a minute want any of them to think this is an acceptable situation.
“But I said before the game even started that Bournemouth are the best side in the league. They didn’t do anything that we didn’t expect but this a talented squad of players who work incredibly hard.
“Add those attributes together and you can see why they are top of the league.”
Nobody could argue with that. Though desperately lacking quality, the Seasiders have been imbued with a new-found steel under Clark and welcomed Bournemouth on the back of a four-match unbeaten run.
But faced with a whirlwind of attacking power that has now scored an incredible 50 times in 22 matches, they didn’t have a hope in hell.
From two-goal hero Matt Ritchie on the right to metronomic fullback Charlie Daniels on the left, the Cherries never stopped coming forward, even when the olés were rolling and the Tangerine masses had headed for the exits.
“It’s right up there with our best performances,” said Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe, whose side now stand alone at the top of the table.
“We haven’t always been that ruthless. I’ve known games when we’ve been in total control and haven’t put teams to bed. But that’s a couple of times now we’ve dealt out heavy defeats and it’s come on the back of putting five past Cardiff last week. It’s a good sign and I hope there’s more to come. I’m delighted with where we are and I’m delighted with the way we’re playing. But there are still big tests to come.”
In fairness to Clark, you could see what Blackpool were trying to do; press and squeeze in their own half, drop off and let Bournemouth play in theirs. For 15 minutes or so, it was textbook stuff.
But the Seasiders simply could not maintain the intensity or concentration required to keep Howe’s men at bay. All too soon they were watching helplessly as the visitors weaved pretty patterns, scrambling raggedly to fill spaces the ball had just left.
Inch-by-inch the Cherries crept forward. Inch-by-inch Blackpool fell back. And when the ball found Ritchie wide on the right, the winger jinked inside and scuffed a low left-footed bobbler that somehow squirmed under Joe Lewis.
It was a terrible mistake, compounded just before half-time when Chris Eagles was mugged on the byline by Daniels. The fullback teed up Callum Wilson to tap home and the game was up.
Blackpool played with greater tempo and aggression in the second half but it was little more than the frenzied thrashing of a slaughtered pig.
Their opportunity to affect the game had long gone and when Ritchie picked his head up to curl a pearler into the top corner from 20 yards, a thrashing felt immi-
nent. Nathan Delfouneso did stab one back for Blackpool but the final strains of ‘Glad All Over’ hadn’t even died before Wilson was sent tumbling for a penalty.
Brett Pitman was calmness personified, scoring first in the top corner and then in the bottom when ref Andy Madeley ordered a retake.
What followed was ruthless as Marc Pugh headed home Ritchie’s deflected cross before Harry Arter thumped in from 12 yards.
“Before this, this group of lads has worked tirelessly for me,” said Clark, whose side now sit ten points adrift of safety at the foot of the Championship.
“When we’ve had set-backs on the pitch, they’ve fought for me. I want them to know I’ll fight for them. So I’ll take this defeat on the chin. I’ll front it up for everyone in the dressing room.
“We’ll stick together and we’ll keep fighting. Nobody here is giving up.”
ART BEAT: Harry Arter, centre, celebrates scoring Bournemouth’s sixth goal in their rout of Blackpool
QUALITY QUARTER: Matt Ritchie, right, celebrates scoring Bournemouth’s first. Inset: Brett Pitman nets from the spot
ROUND OF APPLAUSE: Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe slatues the Cherries’ travelling support at full-time