Pit and Cher­ries strike it Ritch

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Sam El­liott

BE­FORE the game, Bournemouth striker Yann Ker­mor­gant stated that it wasn’t a com­pe­ti­tion be­tween Cal­lum Wil­son and him­self to see who scores the most goals to fire the club into the Pre­mier League.

He wasn’t wrong. On Fri­day night, Brett Pit­man and Matt Ritchie ar­rived at the shoot-out party by join­ing the fear­some front two in dou­ble fig­ures.

Two goals apiece and a corker from cen­tral de­fender Steve Cook sent Ed­die Howe’s men back to the top overnight as the lead­er­ship changed for the 17th time this sea­son.

The Foot­ball League’s high­est scor­ers took their tally to 74 with an­other show of supremacy in front of goal.

Of course, they were given a help­ing hand by a frag­ile Ful­ham who would do well to re­mem­ber they aren’t any­where near safe from an­other rel­e­ga­tion, but ar­guably the Cham­pi­onship’s best foot­balling side are very much look­ing the part again. Bournemouth’s pow­ers of re­cov­ery af­ter a Fe­bru­ary dip make them gen­uine con­tenders not only for pro­mo­tion, but the ti­tle.

Howe said: “We never lost faith in our­selves through­out our bad run – some other peo­ple may have done, but we didn’t. We were low when we lost, but we re­tained be­lief that we would come again.

“It helps be­cause we know we have play­ers that can score goals. Thank­fully we don’t have goal bonuses in the play­ers’ con­tracts – we took them all out! “The team lead­ing the ta­ble has changed so many times it’s al­most be­come the tag no­body wants, but we’re happy to be there. When we have that level of ruth­less­ness we are hard to stop.”

For Ful­ham, the truth of the mat­ter is that lit­tle has changed since Ger­man Felix Ma­gath was axed in Septem­ber. Out-thought, out­classed but cer­tainly not out of trou­ble.

Ma­gath’s re­place­ment, Kit Sy­mons, ac­cepts he needs re­sults again, and fast, say­ing: “They were a dif­fer­ent level to us from start to fin­ish, it looked like top against bot­tom.

“Bournemouth are the real deal, but that doesn’t ex­cuse a very bad night for us.

“We know we aren’t safe, no one is un­der any il­lu­sions. Ev­ery one of us is fully aware of the sit­u­a­tion.”

Pit­man pounced af­ter Char­lie Daniels’ pre­cise pass. The only sur­prise was that it had taken Bournemouth nearly half an hour to break through. Winger Ritchie soon dou­bled the lead when his sharp run and shot licked Niko­lay Bo­durov and poor Mar­cus Bet­tinelli was help­less once more.

Af­ter half-time, Wil­son wasted a chance to get on the scor­sheet when he took too long but the night wasn’t about the Cher­ries’ top scorer.

No, it be­longed mainly to Pit­man – and he soon showed why with his sec­ond. His sump­tu­ous shot matched his run from his own half to make it 3-0.

Sub­sti­tute Matt Smith was Ful­ham’s only plus point and he rat­tled in his first league goal for the club af­ter good ap­proach play by Ross McCor­mack.

Atro­cious Fer­nando Amore­bi­eta hauled Wil­son over with his start­ing po­si­tion shoddy. Off he went and be­fore he reached the chang­ing room it was four, Ritchie smash­ing in the re­sult­ing free­kick.

And cen­tre-back Cook iced the cake with a sub­lime ar­rowed drive, which found the top cor­ner to com­pound Ful­ham’s mis­ery.

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Images

ON THEIR WAY: Brett Pit­man scores the first goal for Bournemouth in their thump­ing 5-1 win

OFF: Amore­bi­eta is dis­missed

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