Cherries pip U’s to the points
AFC Bournemouth 1 Colchester United 0
COLCHESTER United slithered to their seventh defeat in the last eight games, to leave themselves slipping closer to the League One relegation zone on the Dorset coast this afternoon.
By contrast, irresistible Bournemouth stretched their unbeaten run, under returning manager Eddie Howe, to 13 games, with 10 wins and three draws.
A 41st minute goal from striker Lewis Grabban was enough to further boost the Cherries’ play-off credentials.
Grabban squeezed his shot past keeper Mark Cousins, from eight yards out, in a congested penalty area.
United showed nothing as an attacking force in a backs-to-the-wall first half, although they were more enterprising after the break, without being able to fashion an equaliser.
The U’s were without the suspended trio of Magnus Okuonghae, Marcus Bean and Gavin Massey, while Brian Wilson missed out due to illness.
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So in came Josh Thompson for his full debut, in place of Okuonghae – the Portsmouth loanee had previously made just a couple of substitute appearances for the U’s.
John White deputised for Wilson at right-back, and there were welcome returns to central midfield for both Kem Izzet and John-Joe O’Toole.
It was Izzet’s first start, since previous manager John Ward’s last game at Scunthorpe towards the end of September. The U’s club skipper had been troubled by a hip problem in the intervening 11 weeks.
O’Toole, meanwhile, was starting his first game since the 1-1 draw against Sheffield United, back in August.
And Izzet and O’Toole both played key roles in keeping the in-form Cherries at bay for the first 40 minutes, with a series of tackles, blocks and clearing headers.
Cousins blocked a goal-bound shot by Brett Pitman in the 14th minute, but otherwise the hosts only threatened early on from set pieces, mostly from corners delivered by Charlie Daniels.
Both Pitman and centre-half Steve Cook headed narrowly over from Daniels’ corners, while Wes Fogden also went close with a looping header at the far post.
Cousins also did well to palm away a deflected long-range free-kick by Pitman on 40 minutes, but a minute later he had little chance as Grabban drilled the Cherries into a 1-0 lead.
U’s boss Dunne made a double change at the start of the second half, with Clinton Morrison and Drey Wright on for O’Toole and Dan Potts in a switch to a 4-4-2 from a 4-5-1 formation.
Thompson and Jabo Ibehre both missed half-chances, from early corners, while Anthony Wordsworth warmed David James’ hands with a scorching first-time shot on 56 minutes.
The U’s searched in vain for a late equaliser. Jabo Ibehre could not direct his header beyond James, from Wordsworth’s 77th minute cross, and a minute later Freddie Sears flashed a shot wide.
There was controversy in the last few minutes when Drey Wright appeared to be fouled in the box, by Wes Fogden.
But referee Brendan Malone let play carry on and the final shot from Josh Thompson was saved by James.
Dunne’s men will hope for better luck at Walsall next weekend.
BOURNEMOUTH: James, Francis, Cook, Elphick, Daniels, Fogden (sub Partington, 90+2), O’Kane, MacDonald (sub Arter, 45+2) Pugh, Grabban, Pitman (sub McQuid, 86). Unused subs: Buchel, Fletcher, McDermott, Tubbs.
COLCHESTER: Cousins, White, Thompson, Eastman, Potts (sub Wright, 46), Sears, Izzet (sub Bond, 68) O’Toole (sub Morrison, 46), Wordsworth, Rose, Ibehre. Unused subs: Pentney, Duguid, Olufemi, Henderson.
Referee: Brendan Malone