manchesterfootball.info’s Tony Bugby continues his ‘Ten Tier Challenge’ which is to watch a match at every level of the pyramid from the Premier League down to North West Counties League, first division south where he kicked off the challenge. Here he visits Stoke City for their home game against AFC Bournemouth, two Championship clubs with aspirations to regain their Premier League status.
STOKE CITY 0, AFC BOURNEMOUTH 1
Dominic Solanke is propelling AFC Bournemouth almost single-handedly back towards the Premier League.
The in-form striker scored his ninth goal of the season as the Cherries won at Stoke City to move six points clear at the top of the table.
Solanke’s simple strike extended Bournemouth’s unbeaten start to their league campaign which now stands at 13 games as they look to regain the top-flight status they lost in 2020.
And it was a huge win for Scott Parker’s side against the Potters who had been unbeaten at home and remain in the play-off places.
It was by no means a classic – the first half was awful – but Bournemouth did just enough in the second half to merit victory as both sides also struck the frame of the goal.
It was a victory built on a sound defence which pleased Parker who said: “It is no mean feat to keep six clean sheets in a row away from home.
“The win was built on solid foundations and we showed great desire as team playing against a very good side which had not lost at home.
“We nullified them in the first half when we played a good tempo and pressing game.
“At the start of the second half, I told the players to put a stamp on it. We played with intensity and got our noses in front and then ground it out, a good habit to have.”
After an electrifying start, in which Jacob Brown fired wide for Stoke in only 18 seconds, the subsequent action disappointed.
Bournemouth had a decent chance when Philip Billing slid in to meet a low cross but sliced his effort narrowly wide.
Stoke suffered an injury blow when Nick Powell landed awkwardly and appeared to injure his ankle.
Powell received treatment twice in quick succession but hobbled off in the 28th minute to be replaced by Mario Vrancic.
The second half could not have been much worse than the disjointed opening period, and so it proved.
The Cherries made a breakthrough in the 51st minute with a goal that was in keeping with the match.
Ryan Christie cut in from the right and his shot was parried by goalkeeper Adam Davies with Solanke sliding in to slot home the loose ball from six yards.
The goal jolted Stoke to life as they played with a renewed urgency, and they almost immediately equalised when a spectacular overhead kick from Jordan Thompson.
Solanke, played in by Jordan Zemura with 16 minutes left, ought to have sealed victory with 16 minutes left but crashed a shot from 14 yards against the crossbar.
Stoke rarely threatened an equaliser, though they went close in the seven minutes of added time, Vrancic’s free kick forced a decent diving save from Mark Travers.