Pit and Cherries strike it Ritch
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.
ON THEIR WAY: Brett Pitman scores the first goal for Bournemouth in their thumping 5-1 win
OFF: Amorebieta is dismissed