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McCann delighted after Bournemouth victory

22 January 2022

Grant McCann felt adopting a more aggressive approach in the second half was key to securing a hard-fought 1-0 victory at promotion-chasing AFC Bournemouth.

City came under considerable pressure in the opening 45 and were indebted to goalkeeper Nathan Baxter for a string of excellent saves, the pick of which a one-handed stop from dangerman Dominic Solanke.

But the Tigers were much stronger after the break, going close through Keane Lewis-Potter and Tom Eaves before Ryan Longman drove home 13 minutes from the time to seal an impressive win.

“It’s a very tough place to come is Bournemouth – they’d only lost twice here this season,” said McCann.

“First half, we had to ride our luck a little bit. We couldn’t get to grips with (Emiliano) Marcondes and (Philip) Billing in the positions they were picking up.

“We had to change it a little bit tactically, particularly at half-time, and got Honeyman around (Jefferson) Lerma, and Keane (Lewis-Potter) and Tom Eaves to play in between their centre-backs and full-backs.

“We asked Randell (Williams) and Ryan to be a bit more aggressive and the centre-halves to be a bit more aggressive against Billing and Marcondes, which freed up Richie (Smallwood) and Doc (Greg Docherty) a little bit. I felt them two got control of the game in the second half.

“We were a bit more aggressive, we stopped them playing out. And when they did play out, we were around that ball much better than we were in the first half.

“They were strong first half, they played very, very well, but we coped with most things, Nathan made some fantastic saves and then we got a really good goal to take the three points.”

Grant McCann Richie Smallwood Bournemouth A Jan 2022.jpg

Although still 19th, the Tigers now have a 10-point cushion over the bottom three after back-to-back wins against two promotion hopefuls – as well as successive clean sheets.

“Defensively this season, we’ve been strong,” McCann added.

“We conceded quite a lot of goals in the early part of the season from set-plays. In open play, all season, we’ve been quite strong defensively.

“It’s two clean sheets in the space of a few days, against second and third in the division, against one centre-forward who has got 20 goals (Blackburn’s Ben Brereton Diaz) and another who has got 19 (Solanke).

“I’m really pleased with our three young centre-halves (Di’Shon Bernard, Sean McLoughlin and Jacob Greaves) who have come through the week very well.”

The one downside from a rewarding trip to the South Coast – the Tigers’ first win at the Vitality Stadium since 2005 – was the enforced withdrawal of Randell Williams.

McCann revealed: “We may have picked up an injury to Randell Williams, which doesn’t look great because Randell’s been excellent the last couple of games. We’re hopeful it’s not a bad one but it doesn’t look great.”

The boss also thanked the City supporters who made the long journey from East Yorkshire to Dorset to back the team.

“Absolutely unbelievable from our fans today,” he said. “Fantastic support, we can’t thank them enough. I’m just pleased we’ve sent them home happy with three points.”

Fans at Bournemouth A Jan 2022.jpg


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