It was a game that felt like it aged me 20 years, but it was worth it. Watching my AFC Bournemouth cling on for a win against Stoke City this weekend was not enjoyable in any way. But the importance of grabbing three points simply can’t be understated.
With several sides I think we need to catch – including Leicester City, Brighton, and Huddersfield – winning, we could have had a mountain to climb if we’d lost on Saturday to Mark Hughes’s side. Well, maybe not a mountain. A hugely inconvenient hillock perhaps.
READ MORE: Stoke v Bournemouth – how the match unfolded
We’ve been playing well in recent weeks without getting the results, so this was a much needed win to show the players that they’ve been doing the right things. I think one player in particular has made a big impact since he’s returned to the side too.
Super Junior Stanislas
I talk of winger Junior Stanislas. A true enigma of a player, he was awful when we were in the Championship. He never looked a threat going forward, and seemed suspect defensively.
Since being in the Premier League he’s stepped up more than perhaps anyone else in our promotion winning side though. And considering the many success stories in our squad that’s saying something.
He was injured at the start of this season, but since his return to the side he’s offered a much needed extra facet to our attacking play. Showing composure on the ball he can often be the essential cog when it comes to piecing together attacking moves.
That was the case this weekend for example. He set up Andrew Surman for our opener – then slotted away our second from the penalty spot.
Taking our chances
This weekend’s win was hugely pleasing not just for the points though. It was also enjoyable for how we managed to address issues that have plagued us this campaign.
The first of those problems is how we’ve struggled to take our chances when they turn up. No such issue on Saturday, as we took our first two opportunities of the match.
This was even more impressive considering we were missing both of our first choice strikers, with Jermain Defoe suffering a hamstring injury and Josh King being sick.
Benik Afobe and Lys Mousset therefore had to step up. And although their impact in the second half was minimal they played an essential role in gaining us a two goal lead. Which was even more important considering how the second 45 minutes played out…
I have to say, when Eddie Howe made a defensive change on the hour mark I was worried. When we conceded seconds after the change my concerns were increased.
After all, we’re hardly known for backs to the wall defensive performances. But I was wrong. Despite having barely any of the ball in the second half we somehow held out.
Holding onto leads was another element that’s been missing this season, so to remedy that in the Potteries was huge. Yes, the opposition were perhaps not the best – but the same could be said of Everton and we still managed to lose to them.
In summary, we finally managed to get the points our recent performances have deserved – and I’m confident we can now start climbing the table.