Work has been pretty hectic lately, so I took some time to chill out by watching Preston North End play AFC Bournemouth in the third round of the League Cup. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been the best start to this Championship season for PNE, who are currently close to the bottom of the table. But we were still in the League Cup, having beaten Premier League opposition Watford in the previous round. Now we were up against recently promoted Bournemouth, who got into the Premier League for the first time at the end of last season, having almost been relegated out of the Football League altogether just six years earlier. Callum Wilson and Matt Ritchie have been doing well in my Fantasy Football team so far, but neither of them was even on the bench last night. I guess after just a short time in the Premier League, fancy Bournemouth think their first team is too good for the likes of us.
The game kicked off at a fast pace, with PNE’s Will Keane trying a shot from range after just a few minutes. Bournemouth applied a lot of pressure with their more nimble players, but PNE managed to get the ball in for close-range attempts on goal a couple of times. It wasn’t until Bournemouth had a corner that they forced our keeper into a really good save – but as the ball was bounced around the box following the subsequent corner, Bournemouth scored, with one of their players taking a little knock in the process and going down as the others celebrated.
Unfortunately, PNE didn’t respond well, becoming more conservative, taking too much time with the ball as they brought it forward. Keane came close again, and Stevie May also tried a long range shot, while the defenders managed to keep blocking Bournemouth’s attacks. The game was fairly quiet for the rest of the first half, apart from the guys behind me continually moaning at PNE’s errors.
In the second half, PNE improved and got in some better attacks; Tom Clarke hit the woodwork, and Keane had a break that unfortunately missed. Bournemouth, meanwhile, forced a couple of saves at the other end. Finally, in the 84th minute, Jordan Hugill got on the end of a good cross, and equalised!
All the PNE fans were hoping that we would get one more goal before normal time ran out, particularly as we had a corner at the end of stoppage time – but it was not to be. Normal time ended 1-1, and the game would go into extra time.
PNE still seemed to have plenty of energy, but Bournemouth started extra time better: after Adam Smith had run across most of the pitch to get the ball just outside the box, Marc Pugh scored at close range to put Bournemouth ahead again. As extra time continued, the crowd became increasingly venomous towards the referee, who seemed to be penalising the PNE players for the slightest contact with the opposition, while doing no such thing whenever a Bournemouth player brought one of ours down.
This changed, however, towards the end of extra time – when PNE were awarded a penalty for handball! Daniel Johnson slotted it home, and as a result, I was going to see a penalty shoot out first hand for the first time. It proved even more exciting than on TV, with the crowd all around me.
PNE’s first shot was saved, while Bournemouth scored: 0-1. Both scored: 1-2. PNE scored, Bournemouth saved: 2-2! PNE saved again, Bournemouth scored: 2-3.
Daniel Johnson came up for the decisive penalty – and it was saved. PNE were out of the League Cup, but had still provided an entertaining evening.