Cherries go back to top of the table after 2-1 win

AFC Bournemouth went back to the top of the EFL Championship with goals from Phillip Billing and Dominic Solanke as they won 2-1 against Luton Town at Vitality Stadium.

Vitality stadium | By Andy Jones

AFC BOURNEMOUTH went back to the top of the EFL Championship with goals from Phillip Billing and Dominic Solanke as they won 2-1 against Luton Town at Vitality Stadium.

A determined Luton never gave up despite being two down at the break as the Cherries continued their habit of giving away second half goals at home with Reece Burke sliding in to finish from close range setting up another nervy finish for the home fans.

Luton were however unable to penetrate the Cherries defence and the win took the Dorset club two points clear of West Brom and Coventry at the top of table and maintain their unbeaten start to the campaign.

Two first half assists were provided by Ryan Christie – the first of which was a sumptuously chipped ball for Billing to finish first time inside the box before the winger crossed the ball for Solanke to head home.

Scott Parker named an unchanged side going into this game with both Jefferson Lerma and Ben Pearson recovering from knocks they had received in the win against Cardiff last weekend.

Luton made one change from the 3-3 draw with Swansea as Pelly-Ruddock was replaced in midfield with Jordan Clark through injury.

A slow opening start to the game saw Luton set up to overload Bournemouth’s left flank as the Hatters set up in a hybrid formation that blended a 3-4-3 with a 4-2-3-1 formation in between possession.

The first shot on target came from the Cherries though, with nine minutes on the clock Ryan Christie drove into the box from the right flank and cut onto his left. His tame shot was easily saved by Simon Sluga at the near post as the hosts started to get going.

It was the Turn of Luton to land the next punch but Elijah Adebayo spurned a glorious opportunity after connecting with Harry Cornick’s cross from the right-hand side – blazing his effort high over the crossbar from 8 yards. Moments later Adebayo almost punished Mark Travers who dithered on a back pass but the Cherries keeper recovered and was spared any blushes.

With 17 minutes played it was Danish international Billing, who yet again found the back of the net, with his fifth of the season. The prolific midfielder finished first time into the bottom corner after a delightfully chipped ball from Christie on the edge of the box fell into the Danes path who cooly slotted the ball home from 10 yards.

Bournemouth started to take control of the game as the first half grew, applying pressure high up the field, and with 31 minutes gone Dominic Solanke extended the home side’s lead to make it 2-0. Christie provided yet another assist, this time popping up on the left flank, crossing the ball for Solanke who headed home his sixth goal of the campaign.

Jefferson Lerma almost made it three just before the break after Sluga slipped in the box. The loose ball fell to the Colombian midfielder on the edge of the area, but the number eight took too long to get the ball out of his feet and his shot was blocked by Gabrial Osho and went out for a corner – a real let off for the away side.

Jaidon Anthony then saw a shot from distance whistle past the post after using Jordan Zemura as a decoy on the overlap. The young forward cut onto his right foot and tried his luck from 18 yards but failed to trouble Sluga in the Luton goal.

Gary Cahill was then almost caught out in added time as he allowed Jordan Clark to get the better of him and had to guide the ball out for a corner just before the stroke of half time – the only real moment of concern for the home side who led comfortably at the break.

Luton made a change at the break bringing on Amari’i Bell for Osho and the visitors were instantly on the front foot as they looked to get back into the match.

Travers was called into action for the first time as Henri Lansbury whipped in a free kick from the left-hand side, his in-swinging ball glanced off the head of Cherries defender Adam Smith forcing the Republic of Ireland ‘keeper into a great reaction save to keep the game at 2-0.

The visitors kept the pressure on and Adebayo’s cross from the right almost crept in at the near post, but Travers was alert to the danger and tipped the ball over for a corner.

With 15 minutes of the second half gone the home side had yet to fashion any real chance and it was the visitors, Luton who looked most likely to get the next goal. And on 64 minutes Luton got their reward as Reece Burke got the slightest of touches from a Luke Berry cross to score from close range making it 2-1 after the ball cannoned off Llyod kelly before hitting the back of the net.

It has been something of a habit for Bournemouth to concede second half goals, especially after taking 2-0 leads into the break. Both against Blackpool and QPR Scott Parker’s side were unable to keep clean sheets and again a defensive nervousness was creeping into the team as the final 20 minutes approached which set up a tense finish to the game.

A rejuvenated Luton made replaced Berry for Carlos Mendes Gomes and Harry Cornick for Cameron Jerome as Nathan Jones looked to add some fresh legs into the Hatters attack.

Parker also made a change of his own replacing a tiring Anthony with Morgan Rogers as the final quarter of an hour approached and then replaced Christie with Chris Mepham moving to a back five with the intention to clearly hold on to what they have and the tension could be felt throughout the ground as the game entered the 80th minute.

Kelly gave a silly foul away on the right-hand of the box just moments later, allowing Lansbury another opportunity to fizz in a free-kick which was met by Luton captain Kai Naismith at the back post, but Travers had his angles covered and easily gathered the ball at his near post.

The Cherries were able to keep Luton at bay for the rest of the game and went back to the top of the Championship and maintained their unbeaten start to the campaign.

AFCB: Travers (g/k); Zemura, Smith, Kelly, Cahill; Billing, Pearson, Lerma; Anthony (rogers74’), Solanke (Lowe 90), Christie (Mepham 79’) (4-3-3)

Unused subs: Nyland (g/k); Brooks, Marcondes, Stacey,
Bookings: n/a

Luton Town: Sluga (g/k); Lockyer, clark, Naismith; Bree, Berry (Mendes Gomes 71’), Lansbury, Clark, Osho (Bell 45’); Adebayo, Cornick (Jerome 75’) (3-5-2)

Unused subs: Shea (g/k), Rea, Bradley, Pereira
Bookings: n/a

Referee: Tim Robinson
Assistants:  Lee Venamore, Michael George


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