Poppies hold on against Baffins in five goal thriller

Report from Rob Edwards (@rob_edwards19) at Victoria Park

Bournemouth Poppies survived a late scare to beat Baffins Milton Rovers 3-2 at Victoria Park courtesy of three first-half goals.

The home side, who were looking to build on Saturday’s win at Christchurch, dominated the first-half at the Winton-based ground and were rewarded with a three-goal cushion at the interval.

Ron Frost blasted in the opener from the spot only nine minutes in, before Harry Cooper added a second with a fine strike from outside the box.

River Smith added a third shortly before the break, putting the home side in firm control.

Two late Shane Cornish strikes weren’t enough for the away side to get anything from the match, and it was the Poppies who grabbed all three points.

The last time these two sides met at Victoria Park, the away side ran out comfortable 3-0 winners.

The Poppies were clearly eager to put this right, putting the pressure on the visitors right from the first minute.

After only nine minutes, midfielder Frost was given the chance to give the Poppies a deserved lead from the spot after Fawzi Saadi was brought down. He made no mistake finding the top left-hand corner giving the ‘keeper no chance.

The away side offered little in the way of a response after conceding early on. Falco then fired wide of the Rovers’ goal on 27 minutes after taking aim from outside the area.

Poppies were the only side offering anything going forward and on the half-hour mark they were rewarded with a second goal.

Midfielder Cooper let fly from the edge of the area, with his shot wrong-footing the visitors’ goalkeeper. The ball nestled in the bottom left-hand corner to give the home side breathing space.

Just before half-time the Poppies were able to grab a third thanks to their no. 9, River Smith. He maintained his composure after being put clean through by rounding the ‘keeper and rolling the ball into an empty net.

With that goal came the last piece of action of the first half and the home side went in at the break rightly delighted with their showing so far.

When play resumed after the interval, the Poppies seemed determined to see out the lead which their first-half display had given them.

Both teams created very little, with the only chance of note coming from Falco, who perhaps should have done better when he received the ball inside the area. He could only fire wide of goal.

It looked increasingly likely that the Poppies would maintain their three-goal cushion up until the final whistle.

That was until the game flipped on 75 minutes when Poppies centre-half Chris Speers was shown a straight red for a late challenge on Rovers’ man Tommy Leigh.

The numerical advantage gave the away side renewed belief that they may still be able to get something out of a match which, for the majority, they hadn’t been in.

On 87 minutes, Cornish scored what seemed to be a consolation for the visitors after his header beat Sam Jones at the near-post following a cross from the left.

However, a couple of minutes later, Cornish had his and Rovers’ second when he got ahead of his man to convert inside the six-yard box after a fine ball in from the left.

These two late goals meant the home side were left holding on to a lead, which for 75 minutes never looked in doubt.

It was backs against the wall for the Poppies as they looked to withstand the late onslaught from the away side.

Falco could have made their job a whole lot easier if he put away a late chance on the counter-attack. He could only fire a shot straight at Scott after being put clean through, however.

Despite this miss, there was no grand-stand finish and the Poppies managed to hold on to all three points.

This win meant that the Poppies were up to third in the table, moving above Portland United.

They will be looking for another win as they travel to Bashley this coming Saturday.

Poppies: Jones, Aldhayan, Wensley, Speers, Elsom, Frost, Cullen (Khider, 72), Cooper, Saadi (Ohameje, 54), Smith (Langston, 78), Falco

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