Cherries: No need for talk... It's been said far too often
Cherries boss Lee Bradbury has wisely banned his players from speaking to the media so they can concentrate fully on trying to win promotion. The timing of the blackout, which apparently started in the build up to this game, could not have been better. Maybe Bradbury knew something the rest of us did not. For the umpteenth time this season, kamikaze Cherries committed defensive hara-kiri and shot themselves in the foot by conceding late goals. And as the players must be fed up to the back teeth of talking about it, perhaps it was appropriate that all requests for interviews were politely turned down. Even personnel from the club's official website, students whom sometimes travel with the squad to away games, were prevented from gleaning any player reaction. Instead, it was left to Bradbury to face the music, his latest inquest pulling no punches as he described Cherries' late capitulation in cider country as immature and naïve. At least conducting pre and post-match interviews can now be eliminated as one of the causes of a recurring theme that is threatening the promotion dream. Until the 86th minute at Huish Park, Cherries had certainly let their feet doing the talking, a polished all-round display putting them on course for a deserved first victory at the venue. The Glovers, reduced to 10 men for most of the second half following the dismissal of defender Paul Huntington, were almost waiting for the final whistle to put them out of their misery. More than 2,100 travelling supporters had been in fine voice after a Danny Ings double an emphatic penalty and a classy second had put Cherries in the ascendancy. And as the clock ticked towards the 90, the fat lady could have been forgiven for preparing to join in, her vocal chords oiled and ready to burst into a celebratory chorus of we are going up! She knew better though. She had researched Cherries' statistics for the season and knew that once they had conceded with four minutes remaining, she did not even need to clear her throat. Cherries were like a batsman who had been trapped plum leg before wicket. At 2-1, they could have walked to the dressing room, without waiting for the umpire's finger to confirm their fate. Even Bradbury admitted as much when he said: Once they had scored to make it 2-1, I was always worried they were going to get a second. Fear turned to reality for Bradbury when Swansea loan star Shaun MacDonald darted through a posse of bodies to head home a dramatic injury-time leveller following a corner. Queue the now-customary and unkind jokes likening Cherries to a gaffe-prone host who cannot hold a party or an errant dog walker who cannot hold a lead. This, however, is no laughing matter. Having already blown their chances of automatic promotion, Cherries' attempts to reach the play-offs which looked a given at the start of March still remain very much in the balance. Watching them implode in touching distance of the winning line is something Bradbury has in common with his predecessor Eddie Howe and neither has been able to remedy the problem. Conservative estimates suggest this latest aberration has seen Cherries fritter no fewer than 18 points to late goals this season, with Bradbury and Howe now neck and neck on nine apiece. Bradbury knows he needs to find a cure, particularly if Cherries realise their aspiration to compete in the Championship: If we were to go up, we would get punished every week if we were that naïve. There had been no hint of the catastrophic climax to come as Cherries eased into a 2-0 lead thanks to Ings's 55th-minute penalty and his clinical first-time finish from a Liam Feeney cross after 67 minutes. It was a somewhat bizarre penalty award, with Adam Virgo spotted manhandling Adam Smith after the defender had gone to ground under a challenge from Nathan Smith. And while referee Steve Tanner waved away their claims following the initial challenge, he had no hesitation in pointing to the spot second time around. Furious Glovers supporters could hardly Adam and Eve it when linesman Adam Batt alerted the referee to Virgo's reckless act. In keeping with the theme of players keeping schtum, Virgo also declined an invitaion to explain his stupidity to reporters following the final whistle. The defender, who could easily have been sent off for grabbing Smith, was to play a crucial part in helping the Glovers halve the arrears, as was bumbling referee Tanner. Although a shot was charged down by Harry Arter right in front of the official, it was again left to linesman Charles Breakspear to suggest the Cherries midfielder had used his arm. While Bradbury later described the decision as harsh, Virgo threw Yeovil a lifeline when he confidently despatched the resultant spot kick past Shwan Jalal. Tanner perhaps showed why his time on the Premier League list had been cut short by failing to show Arter a second yellow card, the midfielder having been a tad fortunate to escape with only a booking following a poor tackle on Max Ehmer in the first half. On a day when communication had been a major talking point, perhaps a lack of it cost Cherries deep into injury time when MacDonald arrived to bag an unlikely leveller.
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