AFC Bournemouth boss Scott Parker has hailed his side’s reaction to going 1-0 down against Sheffield United as the thing that pleased him the most about their victory, speaking after the game to the club’s media team.
Morgan Gibbs-White’s conversion from Billy Sharp’s cross put the Blades ahead at the Vitality Stadium on the 56th minute, but the home side responded nearly straight away as they equalised six minutes later through Dominic Solanke, before Philip Billing added a second in the 65th to secure all three points for the Cherries.
This latest win leaves them three points clear at the top of the Championship table, with Parker’s side managing to defend their lead well for the remaining half an hour and clinch what could prove to be a crucial win after initially going behind.
Only a true expert on AFC Bournemouth will get these 27 Cherries quiz questions correct
Conceding from a long kick downfield is one area that will want to address during the international break, but after scoring 18 goals in 11 matches and conceding just eight, the sort of defensive record that could win them a place back in the top flight next term, their backline is currently looking superb.
And though many of their squad members have risen to the challenge with what they’re doing physically, the south coast outfit’s manager has identified one mental aspect of their game as something he was most pleased about after facing adversity against Slavisa Jokanovic’s men.
Parker said: “It was a real battle, the conditions were horrendous today, I think we all recognised that, and I thought both teams adjusted well to that.
“I experienced a group of players that have gone behind for the first time this season, and the reaction I saw from those players when they did go a goal behind is what pleased me the most.
“As quickly as we went a goal behind – before you know it – within six, seven or eight minutes we were 2-1 up.
“The real massive factor in my head was when the penalty was in the back of the net and I saw a group of men who wanted to grab the ball, put it back on the centre circle and think, right, we can win this game?”
Although their form this season has been exceptional, their reaction on Saturday afternoon shows they are in the race for promotion for the long run.
Going behind for the first time this season was a real test, but it’s a test they passed with flying colours and this is exactly the sort of team spirit that needs to be displayed on the pitch if they want to win promotion back to the top flight.
A lot has been said about Coventry City’s team spirit and unity in recent weeks and rightly so because they have been excellent this term, but the weight of expectation and pressure on the Cherries to deliver a result against an inconsistent Sheffield United was huge.
A win for the Blades could have kickstarted their campaign in their quest to knock Bournemouth off their perch at the top of the Championship table, but this win keeps them at the top of the table and in the process, has batted away a potential promotion rival for now.
Going into the international break, this was a very important result and if they can continue to turn draws into wins, maximise their points away from home and retain the Vitality Stadium as something of a fortress, that will be the perfect recipe for promotion.