AFC Bournemouth 2-0 Watford
Eddie Howe’s men managed to return to their winning ways on Friday night as Yann Kermorgant and Matt Ritchie fired Bournemouth three points clear at the top of the Championship, dominating 10-man Watford.
With only 26 seconds on the clock, Watford defender Gabriele Angella was shown a straight red card; his mistimed tackle caught Callum Wilson, and was wrongly judged to be the last man by referee Lee Probert.
Yann Kermorgant made up for his missed penalty during Bournemouth’s 1-0 defeat to Leeds last Tuesday, with his spot-kick after 34 minutes being converted.
AFC Bournemouth managed to take control of the game with their mathematical advantage, and doubled their lead through Matt Ritchie, with his eighth league goal of the season killing the game, extending Bournemouth’s lead at the top of the table.
With only one point separating the top four teams before kick-off, it was of paramount importance that Eddie Howe’s side attained maximum points against Watford, who have struggled against teams at the top, winning just one of their last seven against top-eight sides.
The early red card allowed the Cherries plenty of time and space on the ball, giving them the majority of possession in the first half.
French striker Kermorgant rattled the crossbar after 25 minutes from a Charlie Daniels cross, and his crutial penalty miss at Elland Road looked to still have some lasting effects.
Despite their lack of possession, Watford almost opened the scoring through new signing Ben Watson on his debut after signing from Wigan last week.
Scoring seven second-half goals over the weekend would’ve given the Hornets confidence during their attacking play, but joint top-scorers Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo lacked the support throughout the match to pose a deadly threat to Artur Boruc’s goal.
Callum Wilson was brought down by Craig Cathcart in the area ten minutes before the half time break after some good chasing. Yann Kermorgant bravely stepped up to take the penalty, and calmly slotted home straight down the middle past Heurelho Gomes.
Winger Marc Pugh almost doubled Bournemouth’s lead, but he was unable to control the ball inside the area.
Bournemouth managed to shut off all Watford attacks, as their early setback prohibited them from committing numbers forward.
Pugh, who was supplemented efficiently by Charlie Daniels throughout the match, managed to set up Bournemouth’s second goal, with his cross being smashed back across the area, into the bottom corner of the net by Ritchie.
The Cherries goal appeared crucial, as Slavisa Jokanovic’s side were forcing their way back into the game.
Brazilian goalkeeper Gomes saved his side from falling further behind denying Kermorgant a second goal, and subsequently Marc Pugh after some neat turns in the Watford area.
With the visitors already being reduced to ten men, they were lucky to not be reduced further, Daniel Pudil clattered into substitute Eunan O’Kane half way up his shin, with the Cherries midfielder lucky to escape with no serious injury.
In what was an important game for Bournemouth after losing two of their last three league games, their performance will give them confidence going into the next fixture against Wigan on Saturday 7 January, hoping to stay with the leading pack as the end of the season nears.