U's end pre-season with defeat at home to Bournemouth
United ended pre-season with a 4-1 defeat against Championship side AFC Bournemouth this afternoon as a Callum Wilson hat-trick gave the Cherries the win despite a fine goal from Danny Rose.
In a game full of excellent passing and movement it took ten minutes for the first clear opening, when Joe Riley whipped in a cross and Danny Hylton glanced his header wide under pressure from Cherries keeper Benji Buchel.
At the other end United look to have found a gem in George Long who patrolled his area, came smartly out to sweep up imminent danger and on 11 minutes made an astonishing double save to keep out first a well-struck drive from Dan Gosling and then a follow up from the lively Wilson.
However, the on-loan Sheffield United keeper was powerless on 19 to keep out a Junior Stanislas free kick from the edge of the box which made it 1-0 to the visitors.
United responded immediately and on 22 were level with an expertly taken goal from Rose. Relishing his new role as a ‘number ten’ just behind striker Hylton, Rose robbed a dawdling defender then drove into the box. Buchel came out but Rose waited for the keeper to commit himself then floated a delicate chip over him and into the net to make it 1-1.
With both sides spraying the ball around on a slick surface after an earlier downpour, the action was fast paced and always competitive. The absence of Jake Wright and Johnny Mullins, rested with an ankle injury and dead leg respectively, was covered admirably by the versatile David Hunt, who came in alongside the ever-reliable Michael Raynes in a back four well shielded by midfield pair Michael Collins and Jon Meades.
Full backs Joe Riley and Tom Newey patrolled the flanks and looked to join the now familiar attacking trio behind Hylton – in this case fit again Alfie Potter, Rose and debutant Junior Brown – but a minute before the break Bournemouth broke through that back line once again as a simple ball rolled in behind Newey allowed a suspiciously offside-looking Wilson to run clear and apply a simple finish beyond the stranded Long.
Long’s namesake Sam made a brilliant double block to keep it at 2-1 shortly after his arrival as a second-half sub, with both sides making changes and looking at options ahead of the big kick off next weekend. Bournemouth look well equipped for another promotion challenge in the Championship and on 78 made it 3-1 from the spot as a Wilson cross bounced from the unlucky Long’s knee onto his arm, leaving Wilson with a penalty which he slotted home himself to make it 3-1. The striker then completed his hat-trick with time running out, racing away and tapping home after forcing the ball beyond Long to end the scoring.
In a league game there may well have been an inquest into two of the Bournemouth goals but in reality few will remember the scoreline come May. There are plenty of challenges ahead but United had more than matched The Cherries for most of the game and look to be in good shape themselves.
They have a disciplined look to their side, the players know their roles and have taken Michael Appleton’s ideas on board. There may be additions to bolster the squad before the season starts but there are already plenty of encouraging signs and now we move on to Sky Bet league 2 and the serious stuff.
United are at home to Burton Albion next Saturday. Call 01865 337533 or visit www.oufctickets.co.uk to book your place as an exciting new chapter begins…
G Long, Riley (S Long 55), Raynes, Hunt, Newey, Meades (Ruffels 65), Collins, Potter (Shama 76), Rose, Brown (O’Dowda 65), Hylton (Roberts 65)
Subs: Crocombe, Grant
Att: 1,165 Away: 124
Fifty/50 winning number 347630 wins £213
Report by Chris Williams, pictures by Steve Daniels