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Match report: AFC Bournemouth 5 Millwall 2
A STUNNING four-goal salvo inside 16 minutes either side of the break saw rampant Cherries fight back from two goals down to trounce Millwall.
Eddie Howe’s men suffered a shaky start similar to the one endured against Blackburn seven days earlier but showed a steely tenacity to tear the Lions apart after grabbing a lifeline on the stroke of half-time.
Martyn Waghorn and Liam Trotter took full advantage of some sloppy defending to give Cherries a mountain to climb after 10 minutes, but Ryan Fraser’s well-taken strike two minutes before the interval signaled the home side’s intentions.
Defender Steve Cook’s thumping header and Harry Arter’s sweeping strike put Cherries firmly on their way to a first win in four matches before Millwall's Alan Dunne was dismissed for handball in the penalty area with Lewis Grabban stroking home the resultant spot kick.
And the game was up by the time substitute Brett Pitman added his name to the list of scorers with another injury-time penalty.
Eddie Howe made two changes from Tuesday’s defeat at Leeds with new loan signing Stephen Henderson donning the goalkeeper’s gloves in place of the suspended Ryan Allsop while Arter returned from injury to join another West Ham loanee, Jack Collison, in midfield. Eunan O’Kane dropped to the bench.
Lions made three changes following their midweek drubbing at Birmingham with Lee Martin, Karleigh Osborne and the experienced Shaun Derry drafted in while former Cherries David Forde and Scott Malone retained their places.
Cherries started brightly amid a crackling atmosphere with Marc Pugh looking particularly threatening down the left, but the hosts’ failure to deal with second balls saw them concede a sloppy opener.
Simon Francis’ header was collected by the unopposed Trotter on the edge of the area to slip Waghorn down the left and drill past debutant Henderson after just six minutes.
And Cherries were quickly caught out again as the lively Waghorn turned provider for Trotter who arched his run round his team-mate before being threaded through to clip the ball past Henderson from the left of the area to double Lions’ advantage.
Fraser’s low effort from a corner was blocked by Jimmy Abdou as Cherries sought a swift response, but they were nearly punished for a third time when Waghorn broke only to clear the crossbar from distance with two colleagues well placed.
Millwall, buoyed by their early efforts, typically snapped into a series of challenges that further irked the home faithful with referee Lee Collins booking three Lions in the first quarter of the match.
Cherries had their moments with the ball, but were getting passed by in midfield without it and Millwall fashioned another opening when Lee Martin drove down the right and fired a shot just wide of Henderson’s far post with Ian Harte retreating.
However, the hosts looked livelier once Howe had switched his wingers to opposite flanks with Collison and Pugh teaming up to give Rantie a rare sight of goal five minutes before the break.
And Cherries grabbed a vital goal two minutes before the whistle when a well-worked move ended with Fraser jinking in from the left and curling a sublime shot beyond Forde’s despairing dive from the edge of the penalty area.
Collison nearly delivered the perfect antidote to Cherries first half ills when his dipping drive from 25 yards was tipped over the crossbar by Forde but it was a sure-fire sign of things to come.
Millwall tried to quickly restore their two-goal advantage after the restart but full back Dunne’s low shot was smothered by Henderson after just 23 seconds.
But that was to prove the visitors' last hurrah as livewire Fraser slid a well-weighted ball into the feet of Pugh whose shot was blocked by the unflinching Malone.
Rantie was at the hub of everything as Cherries upped the ante and it came as no surprise when Steve Cook rattled in a far post header via the underside of Forde's crossbar from Ian Harte’s inswinging corner to equalise.
Veteran Harte thudded a thundering free kick against the crossbar as Cherries ramped up the pressure, but the home side’s enterprising play was soon rewarded when a third goal inside 12 minutes completed the turnaround.
Millwall simply could not contain the rampant Cherries who quickly moved the ball into space down the right before on-rushing midfielder Arter strode into the box to sweep home a right foot finish inside the far post.
Dean Court was rocking and Cherries, in no mood to let up, continued to probe with Cook’s long throw handled by Dunne in the penalty area resulting in his second yellow card four minutes later.
It was the second time Millwall’s most frequently sent off player had been dismissed this season and, to rub salt into the wounds, former Lion Grabban confidently stroked home the spot kick for his seventh goal of the campaign.
Cherries’ celebrations were cut short when Cook appeared to be struck by a missile from the East Stand but following treatment was quickly on his feet and resumed play.
Howe’s men sensibly stifled the game before threatening a fifth when Harte’s floated free kick was just missed by Pugh at far post.
Collison teed up substitute Andrew Surman to go close but Cherries weren’t to be denied another goal.
Fraser once again proved too quick for the opposition and substitute Paul Connolly upended Dean Court’s pocket rocket in the penalty area.
Brett Pitman stepped up to slam home the resultant spot kick to complete the rout in the third minute of injury time and send Cherries into the international break on a high.
Cherries: (4-4-2) Henderson, Francis, Ward, Cook, Harte, Fraser, Arter (Pitman, 86), Collison, Pugh (O’Kane, 83), Rantie (Surman 77), Grabban.
Unused subs: Hughes, Elphick, Thomas, Jalal (g/k).
Goals: Fraser 43, Cook 50, Arter 55, Grabban (p) 59, Pitman (p) 90+3.
Millwall: (4-2-3-1) Forde, Dunne, Robinson, Osborne, Malone, Abdou, Trotter (Morison, 58), Derry (Bailey, 58), Martin, Waghorn (Connolly, 61), Woolford.
Unused subs: Lowry, Keogh, Easter, Bywater (g/k).
Goals: Waghorn 6, Trotter 10.
Booked: Dunne, Malone, Derry.
Sent off: Dunne.
Attendance: 9,624 (including 1,378 away fans).
Referee: Lee Collins (Surrey)
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