PRITCHARD PROVES POINT
Loan star stakes a claim for manager Warburton
FOR a man Brentford don’t trust to be in charge of their player recruitment, Mark Warburton found a pretty good witness for the defence in Alex Pritchard.
In the first game since it was confirmed that the Bees manager is to leave at the end of the season, onloan Tottenham star Pritchard was inspirational in getting the club’s Premier League push back on track.
Owner Chris Benham hasn’t got enough faith in Warburton’s methods, but the player the manager tracked, the player he has improved and the player he has selected has shone all season. Yesterday, he undid the only side to challenge Brentford for the crown of the Championship’s surprise package.
Warburton is going, but he is determined to leave with his head held high. He wants a say on transfers, an assurance owner Matthew Benham just can’t give. Replacement Paco Jemez, though, will no doubt fall quickly into line.
Outstanding Pritchard, with a match-turning goal and two assists, is proof that his popular manager is better than he’s been given credit for. Just ask the fans cheering his name at the final whistle.
Warburton said: “It was fantastic reaction from a great set of players. Pritch was excellent and he loves those kind of encounters, he comes into his own but the team were absolutely superb. They really stood up.
“I just have to get on with things. It’s disrespectful to my players to not give anything less than 100 per cent to this, regardless of the situation I find myself in. The team have given me what they have so often – character and commitment. I need to repay that.
“I have worked with most of them for four years now, it’s the way it has to be. They deserve nothing less than me giving this everything I have got.”
The first chance fell to free-scoring Bournemouth in the seventh minute, Simon Francis skipped past makeshift full-back Stuart Dallas and crossed for Callum Wilson but David Button was equal to it.
Yann Kermorgant is enjoying one of his most fruitful seasons but he unraveled inside his own box. Pritchard did well but the Cherries man dithered just where he couldn’t.
Jonathan Douglas didn’t wait around and he thundered the ball into the net, gobbling up the loose ball inside ten minutes.
Jota and impressive Pritchard then created good chances but this time punishment for a mistake was in waiting at the other end.
Bournemouth were level when Marc Pugh profited when Toumani Diagouraga was loose in possession. His first attempt hit the post as he stumbled, but the winger was there to tap in the rebound on the half hour.
A great game was unfolding. Andre Gray raced through, he rounded Artur Boruc but an on-theline rescue act was performed by Steve Cook.
Then, with seconds of the first half remaining, Boruc took leave of his senses. Pritchard is exceptional, his free-kick was hardly that. But somehow the goalkeeper made a meal of it – half punch, half pat and it squirmed in.
With Matt Ritchie taken off at halftime with a second yellow card threatening, substitute Ryan Fraser almost vindicated that tough decision. Within minutes of his introduction his low shot cannoned off Button’s post and Fraser could- n’t get his follow-up on target. Wilson twice from range and twice with the goal at his mercy wasted chances as Eddie Howe’s side turned the screw.
Though Jota, eight minutes from time, smashed a curling shot against the bar and five minutes later Boruc denied him one-on-one.
Jota missed another one-on-one, this time in the 90th minute, before Boruc denyied Pritchard.
But it was over soon enough. Pritchard’s cross picked out substitute Chris Long and his tap in put both teams out of their misery three minutes into injury time.
BLOCK: Bournemouth’s Yann Kermorgant is stopped by Brentford keeper David Button and Tony Craig
MAN OF THE MOMENT: Brentford’s Alex Pritchard celebrates scoring their second goal
OPENER: Bournemouth’s Marc Pugh celebrates scoring the first