The return to Bournemouth of Eddie Howe at the start of the month has coincided with an unbeaten run for the Cherries which was stretched to four games when the free-scoring Cherries took advantage of an accident prone Carlisle side to walk away with the points.
Errors when defending are becoming more and more of threat to the good football the Cumbrians play and it’s a problem which will have to be addressed.
“It’s one where we haven’t made them work hard enough for the points,” he said. “I thought we performed quite well in the first half in terms of passing the ball, but if we defend in the way we defended and concede goals in that manner then we are never going to win games.
“We keep shooting ourselves in the foot and that seems to be happening quite a lot at home. This one is leaving us feeling a bit shell-shocked because their staff have even been in and told us they thought we were the better team. It’s what happens in both boxes that matters though and we look like we’re a bit fragile and nervous in our own area. We need to put a stop to that.”
“I can’t put my finger on why it has gone this way for us,” he added. “We’ve said all along that it’s a one-goal league and it tends to be that if you get ahead you go on to win the game. All credit to the boys because they got back into it when that happened to us today.
“I thought we’d go on from there but we then conceded a very sloppy second goal. We just can’t keep doing that. Our goals against record is very poor and it’s something we certainly need to look at. We can talk about different styles and systems but if you’re in the team that doesn’t really matter. Your job is to deal with your man. At the moment that’s the part we aren’t getting right.”
The game took a while to get going and the first meaningful attack of the afternoon brought the first goal as a diagonal ball from midfield left Simek stretching to cut it out. Mark Pugh latched onto it and left Gillespie on the floor before feeding it into the back of the net.
The Cherries looked lively and a volley from MacDonald went close as he rifled the ball at the unsighted keeper. It was relief all round when it zipped over the bar.
The Cumbrians started to use the flanks and their equaliser came from a well taken Berrett free kick after Robson had been hacked to the floor. Elphick got the first touch and Liam Noble capped his current run of good form with a well placed volley into the bottom corner as he held his position on the edge of the area.
Speculative shots were traded as both sides took stock but the visitors found themselves unexpectedly back in front as lady luck deserted the Cumbrians. Thirlwell was first to feel the frustration when he completed an excellent tackle on the roving Harry Arter. The ball broke nicely for Pugh and he used his trickery to get past Simek and into the box. The low cross had power and it seemed to take Gillespie by surprise as it came off his arm and crept agonisingly over the line.
A slide rule pass from Noble put Garner one-on-one as United enjoyed a good spell ahead of the break but the angle was in favour of David James and he steamed off his line to make the block.
Robson had a long range free kick spin wide for a corner as Carlisle continued to play the better football and James smothered the ball gratefully as a scramble ensued inside his six-yard box when Berrett swung it in.
Another calamity half way inside the Carlisle handed the Cherries their third goal on a plate when Barnard and Murphy grappled. The referee waved play on and Lewis Grabban left Edwards in his wake before slotting the ball past the helpless United keeper.
The afternoon became a Halloween horror show for the Cumbrians when a quick break left them light at the back. A ricochet from a cross sat up for Barnard and a wicked deflection from a shot on the run from Lee Barnard found the corner of the net.
Youngster Dave Symington pulled another back for Carlisle when he pulled back for a cross from Robson. A touch and fierce volley left former-England keeper David James flapping at thin air.
“We’re all coming away feeling disappointed again,” captain Paul Thirlwell told us. “I thought we started really well and then we were done with a sucker punch for their first goal. I didn’t think we let that bother us too much and we got the equaliser. I thought we were going to push on from there.
“Then we gave another sloppy goal away, but we still thought at half time that the next goal was the key. We had more than enough to go on and win the game but we let ourselves down again. It leaves us all trying to put our finger on why this is happening. The fact is that if you give these goals away then you’re going to make life hard.
“We prepare right tactically and we all know our jobs, but you can’t coach anything to prevent the errors that are being made at the moment. I’ve no doubt that we’ll bounce back in the next game but you get a bit bored of saying that. We have to get more in the habit of scoring goals when we’re on top and we also have to stop conceding when we’re on top as well.
“There’s no easy answer on how we fix it but we’ll work hard on the training ground and individually the players have to take a look at themselves. There’s no point in hammering the management staff after a game like this because they can’t stop people from making individual errors. The goals we’re conceding at the moment could have been avoided and it’s up to us to address that.”
United - Noble (18), Symington (76)
Bournemouth - Pugh (8, 30), Grabban (51), Barnard (61)
United - Berrett (12)
Bournemouth - Addison (10), Francis (25), Pugh (43)
Carlisle United - Gillespie, Simek, Edwards (Livesey 54), Murphy, Robson, Thirlwell (Symington 46), Noble, Berrett, Chantler, Garner, Cadamarteri (Beck 71). Subs - Collin, Welsh, Potts, Higginbotham.
AFC Bournemouth - James, Francis, Pugh, Arter, Daniels, Elphick, MacDonald, McQuoid (Tubbs 83), Grabban (Fletcher 90), Addison, Barnard (O'Kane 77). Subs - Jalal, Cook, Partington, McDermott, Fletcher.
Referee - Mr David Coote
Attendance - 4,050 (156 away fans)