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An enthralling and tightly-fought season came to a conclusion in the confines of South London as the The Cherries despatched Charlton in as professional and conclusive a manner as you will see.
For the visiting Cherries, the maths were fairly simple. Any result, bar a heavy defeat and similar result for Middlesbrough, would be sufficient to see them into the Premier League for the first time. A stunning early effort from Matt Richie and ex-Addick Harry Arter’s early strike allayed any fears of that happening. Richie sent home the third late on to secure the three points and promotion was an absolute.
For the title, events elsewhere would need to be focussed on. It’s a weird certainty in football these days that whenever there’s a lot riding on a match elsewhere for a team, their fans will spend a lot of the game looking over at the latest from that fixture. In fairness to the travelling legions (over 4,000 made the relatively short trip East), this fixture was over as a contest after a 4 minute spell of domination from the visiting team however from this moment onwards it was very much a case of ‘How are Watford getting on?”
In the most part, the news from Vicarage Road was pretty grim. The statistics showed The Hornets were all over Sheffield Wednesday, and it came as no surprise when they took the lead. Barely two minutes would pass before somebody would give an update on the score – even the Addicks scoreboard joining in on the party to keep the expectant fans updated. Right up until second half injury time – when Wednesday had won a penalty to draw with AFCB only a fortnight earlier. Shortly after Richie’s second rippled the back of Stephen Henderson’s net, news filtered through that there had been a second goal in Watford – and that they now needed to score in the last few minutes of stoppage time to win the Championship title. Cue pandemonium in the stand. “We are top of the League” at top voice by swathes of travelling supporters, polite applause rising to outright standing ovation from the home support by the news that the final whistle had been blown at Vicarage Road. “Campiones” swept through the stands as the Cherries fans lauded their players’ achievements.
It had actually happened. AFC Bournemouth were champions of the Football League for the first time in the club’s history, finishing atop a division for the first time since Harry Redknapp led the team to the second tier in 1987.
Eddie Howe and Jason Tindall made only the one change from the side which had seen off Bolton Wanderers at Dean Court Monday night, with Simon Francis returning at right back in place of Adam Smith. With the move, the already fluid right hand side had a little of its balance back and things looked pretty good from the word go.
The Cherries started the game like they meant business. Up against a Charlton team showing little resistance and probably already thinking about the next few weeks of rest and relaxation, the visitors made light work of moving the ball around, and had two or three half chances in the first few minutes. Kermogant had his free kick blocked after he had been brought down, Wilson pulled a first save out of Henderson, and Pugh failed to find the target from the centre of the penalty area.
It didn’t take long for the first to come though. Nine minutes down, and it was a beauty. The ball moved in from the left to Kermorgant on the edge of the area with his back to goal. He took a touch and teed up Richie who curled in low off the far post from 25 yards to give the visitors the advantage.
Charlton had nothing, creating next to zero in the time up to half time. The Cherries also took a bit of a breather seemingly as the game came back from the chaotic start to reach a typical end of season pace. Wilson danced past defenders but could not find a way past Roger Johnson’s superb block.
Half Time: Charlton 0 – 2 AFCB
The second half saw Charlton try and play a bit, forcing the Cherries back a little more and making things a tiny bit tougher for the Bournemouth rearguard. Not that they were really brought to more than a light sweat but something at least…
It looked increasingly like there were not to be any more goals until the afternoon was brought to a close by Richie’s second time effort from the left of the area picked out the bottom corner.
The Cherries played a professional game with some nice passing football, more direct when required, and got the result needed against a Charlton team which didn’t seem to mind either way. It was all they could do and as the cheers went up around The Valley (and vociferous applause from the gracious home supporters), the players had time to play out the end of the season safe in the knowledge that they had not only been promoted, but won one of the most historic trophies in world football.
Final score: Charlton 0 – 3 AFCB
VFTT Man of the Match: Matt Richie
Two goals, good footballing performance from a player who has seemed to grow increasingly into the role now filled throughout the course of this season. Marvellous.
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