As promotion parties go, it’s fair to say that it didn’t quite go according to plan at Carrow Road. Swansea and Brentford had played their part earlier in the day by failing to land three points, end even Watford stumbled.
City set off at a pace. The speed of movement and the precision were reminiscent of the demolishing handed out to Huddersfield and it was no surprise when City took the lead.
Dimitris Giannoulous picked up the ball at left-back and fed Todd Cantwell, who laid it inside to Oliver Skipp. He moved the ball forward to Kenny Mclean who spotted Teemu Pukki’s run. The Finn’s way to goal was blocked by two defenders but instead, he dinked a fantastic ball for Emi Buendia to run onto and clip home.
A sustained period of City possession followed and they looked hungry for more. As the ball was knocked forward, Pukki had a painful-looking clash of knees which ultimately led to his withdrawal in the second half.
The game was turned on its head in the 16th minute though. Giannoulous and Ben Pearson came together. My first reaction was that Pearson had dived in. Watching him writhing theatrically on the ground added to my feeling and as the referee walked away I was surprised he hadn’t spoken to Pearson. When he turned and produced a red for Giannoulous I was amazed.
Slow-motion replays showed Giannoulous arrived second, but with no pace or intent. His foot was in the air and Pearson slid under it whereupon he made contact with Pearson. So technically perhaps a red by the letter of the law but how the player who arrived in the tackle with no aggression, intent, or even deliberate motion towards can be found at fault baffles me. (Sorry Iwan, legend – I don’t agree with you!)
Kieran Dowell was the unlucky man to be withdrawn to allow Jacob Sorensen to resume left back duties.
Pearson was at it again moments later though, reacting theatrically to a Max Aarons challenge moments later, and then again from Mclean and yet again from Pukki. Nothing from the referee though.
After 20 minutes, Bournemouth had the ball in the back of the net. Danjuma was a thorn in the side all night and he beat Aarons and hit a goal-bound shot across goal. Unfortunately for them, it was touched in by an offside Solanke.
Twice more before half time, Danjuma caused problems with Tim Krul making fine near-post saves.
City were defending well, compact and resilient and this continued into the second half. They looked comfortable against everyone except the impressive Danjuma and this became their downfall, when he beat Buendia down the City right and the ball was played into the area. Unfortunately, it came off Omobamidele. Surridge tapped in with his first touch – initially given offside but correctly overruled.
Przemysław Placheta replaced Pukki who appeared with an ice pack and strapping on his knee, the hope being presumably that he could use his pace to cause issues. Within moments he combined with Aarons who worked the ball inside to Buendia. The little man made himself space but his shot was inches wide.
Moments later city were behind. Once again it was Danjuma, he cut inside Buendia and unleashed a great shot into the top corner.
City moved forward and produced some promising moves but the game was settled on 75 minutes. A long ball forward found Danjuma. He was half a yard off side but it wasn’t flagged. He played the ball to Kelly who surprised everyone with a shot that went through Skipp and passed Krul.
After that, Bournemouth took the sting out of the game playing keep ball. However, it ended in a fitting fashion. Skipp made the lightest of challenges on Pearson who tumbled to the deck, earning Skipp a yellow card.
So a somewhat hollow feeling, it felt like 10 v 12 for most of the game. But watching the players celebrate afterwards reinforced what an incredible achievement this promotion has been. A few days now before what will surely be a title decider on Tuesday.