Cherries continue to stutter after 1-1 draw with Millwall

AFC Bournemouth's draw away to Millwall keeps the side second in the table but is the absence of captain Lloyd Kelly starting to take its toll?

Vitality stadium | By Ollie Ferris

AFC Bournemouth were unable to take advantage of Fulham's draw with Derby to go back to the top of the Championship after being held to a 1-1 draw away to Millwall.

Dominic Solanke had put Scott Parker’s side 1-0 up just before half-time only for former Cherries striker Benik Afobe to equalise midway through the second half.

It is now just one win in four for the Dorset club who have seen their empathic early season form drop off.

Again without on-field captain and star defender Lloyd Kelly, who was also absent for the 3-2 defeat to Derby at the weekend, Parker’s team were unable to implement their typical passing game.

Kelly has been one of Bournemouth’s stand-out performers this campaign playing every minute until picking up a quad injury in the days leading up to the trip to Pride Park, helping his side keep 10 clean sheets in 17 games in the process.

It is no coincidence that the former Bristol man's absence has correlated with his team conceding four goals in two games and Parker will be hoping the 23-year-old is able to recover when Coventry come to the Vitality on Saturday.

The partnership Kelly has built with former England and Chelsea start Gary Cahill has been a key part of the Cherries' fine form this season. Not only is the defender a leader and organiser at the back but his ability to build play from the back and passing range has been missing.

A naturally left footed player, Kelly’s ability to find players higher up the pitch is an important part of the way Parker likes his team to play. The defender is often seen with his head up looking for a ball forward whether that be to Philip Billing, Jaidon Anthony or Ryan Christie.

This progressive and forward thinking style of play allows Bournemouth to hit the opposition at pace and quickly put their opposition on the back foot, which has resulted in a lot of joy in the offensive third.

Bournemouth therefore have lacked a creative spark in their side in the past two games which has stunted their attacking prowess and thus allowed the opposition a chance to put them on the back foot - and as the old saying goes 'attack is the best for of defence'.

Fans of the south coast club will be hoping the centre-back is back fit and firing as as soon as possible as his absence could become a real problem as they push for promotion this season.

Just one point behind Fulham and eight ahead of West Brom in third place, there is no cause for concern as yet, but Parker will need to find a solution to his captain’s absence or hope for a quick return to fitness as the grind of a gruelling Championship season has no sight of letting up.

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