Monday, 30 September 2013

Is Pitman really off his game or playing out of position?

There are a lot of rumblings about whether Pitman is happy playing as a number 10 in the whole and whether he should be enjoying his time more out on the pitch. While his running style always makes him look like he is a bit lacklustre, he can switch in a second and his alertness to opportunities is way ahead of anyone else in the team. 

Pitman is very good at showing his disappointment when things are not going his way or when others make mistakes, but when he is having a bad game he really does disappear. He has had a couple of games now when he has been culpable of giving the ball away too easily and inviting pressure back on his team. The annoyance I find with it is that it gets him down. Rather than brush himself off and pick himself up he seems to find it difficult to shake off a bad pass and go again.

Brett: can he up his game?
I do think that Pitman is one of those players who needs to feel loved and to have someone putting an arm around him and having a quiet word to say you are the main man and we have confidence in you to get us the goals. 

The arrival of Tokelo may well be having more of an impact on Brett than he outwardly would admit. But we need him at his best and we also need Rantie and Grabban playing at their best. There is simply no room for the team to carry anyone and Brett can be one of the leaders of the team when the goals are going in for him. 

We love that cockiness of the quick free kicks, the energy he puts into winning headers and his speed of thought to find the space in goal front of goal. He is a diamond of a player when he is on form and it is up to Jason and Eddie to keep him ticking along at a higher rate than he has been operating of late.

I may be out voted here, but I want us to play 4-4-2 at Leeds with Brett and Grabban up front. I just think AFCB need some familiarity when going to such a difficult ground. Come on now don't be shy come and agree/disagree with me. All views are welcome as comments. It's your team we are talking about :-)

Fraser is AFCB's surprise package

There was no better player for Bournemouth than Ryan Fraser in this weekend's game. He only had 45 minutes to make an impact on the game, but he set about his task with an eager relish that had home fans in full admiration of the wee Scot's attitude and abilities. Having scored his first goal for the Cherries in the game against Blackburn he can now add even more confidence to his performances. When Eddie Howe starts to pen his team for the Leeds Utd game there is a flying Scot who will be the first name on the team sheet. Just who would have thought that before a ball had been kicked this season?

Ryan is such a great player for AFCB at the moment.
In the last couple of month's Ryan has not only been a regular for the Cherries he has grown into one of the side's key players. He not only looks a dangerous player that offers a direct option, running at defenders, he does the tracking back and holds the ball up well when under pressure.

It does strike me that every week AFCB fans are seeing one of the best wingers in the Championship as the 19-year old goes quietly about his work. While Matt Ritchie is a big loss, the fact that Ryan is flourishing in his role as the right winger makes the Ritchie problem much less significant than it might have been. While it is early days, Ryan has already been marked out as AFCB's best player in August and I am astonished how the club has seen fit to see past him for the same honour in September. 

Ryan can really flourish at AFCB.
With his first goal under his belt I expect even more from him now. His strength and speed on the ball is always going to give defenders a headache and I feel that in away games it is even more important that he goes on those runs whenever he can. If he can help AFCB put other teams on the back foot away from home he will give us a great opportunity to pick up points. Don't be surprised if Fraser is Bournemouth's best player against Leeds Utd on Tuesday night.

If you have not already listened to George James on the All Departments' podcast, talking about the 1:3 defeat against Blackburn Rovers tune in at All Departments or listen on our side panel. He says some very interesting things about how the team is being set up and how things are possibly going wrong.

AFCB may need another combative player

The absence of Harry Arter is starting to be more apparent. AFCB lack their usual bite and hassling terrier appetite in the centre of the park and that is giving the opposition more time on the ball to pick out the clever passes that put our back line on the turn. I would be very happy if we could hear some good news about Harry Arter soon or failing that some news of AFCB's interest in acquiring a loan player with a combative style. 

The top teams in this league like QPR and Burnley have strong midfield players with some attitude like Joey Barton and Dean Marney. With Harry currently out of the team, AFCB look an easier team to play against than they have been. I don't see O'Kane as being such an aggressive player but more of a skillful, touch player that opens doors with his vision and precise passing. Shaun MacDonald does have more of a combative style but is finding the Championship a tough battle ground and is starting to come off worse in many of the challenges that he goes in for.

Eunan O'Kane, close control and speed of thought.
Who will partner Eunan on Tuesday night?
Whether Surman can come in and do a job for the Leeds game is yet to be seen, but Howe may be running out of options. He could draft Cook into midfield but this would really be covering the cracks. Center midfield is going to be a key area against Leeds and there is a question over who will partner O'Kane there with Hughes missing out after his red card and Macca and Arter injured. Perhaps it is time for the experience of Stephen Purches to fill in?

I have my fingers crossed that Harry Arter may be able to come back in but with no news about our tigerish midfield man I fear that AFCB will be going into Tuesday's game with a team that would benefit from a little more aggression in such a feisty arena in which to play football.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Allsop's indecisiveness could become costly

I was very anxious watching Ryan Allsop against Blackburn Rovers. Any player can have a bad game, but this performance had me worried for the future. It is clear that Eddie Howe has instructed his goalkeepers to role out the ball to his defenders or midfield players as soon as they can. The difficulty that Allsop seems to have is in releasing the ball quickly and seeing who is on first. While his distribution has been praised in the past, he struggled for most of the game at the weekend.

A great shot stopper but Allsop has to work on other aspects of his game.

It was interesting to see Daryll Flahavan warm up on the touch line as soon as Allsop had seen his clearance charged down by Leon Best in the first few minutes of the Blackburn game. It was not to warn Ryan that his position was under threat but to give him a word of confidence that we were all behind him and to get his concentration levels up. That kind of team spirit should stand the Cherries in good stead. There will be games when personal errors win and lose games for teams.

On shot stopping I don't think there is much to fear about Ryan's performances. He is doing okay when the odds are against him as well. For instance, when Jordan Rhodes was coming at him one-on one with Ward in close pursuit, he stood up to the challenge and kept Rhodes out. There were times though when he did not come for crosses and that is something that he also needs to get better at.

Ryan, Cookie's on! No, it's too late now.

I'd like to see a more confident Ryan who comes and calls for the ball and basically bosses his defenders. The fact that he is young and is learning his role means that he is not quite there yet. I am sure that is one of the reasons why Flahavan was important to keep at the club as far as Eddie Howe was concerned. If Ryan can't pick up his form then Darryl may well have to step in. The fact that AFCB have shipped six goals in their last two matches suggests that not everything is right at the back and while you can point to Charlie Daniels not being around and changing systems perhaps complicating things, it has always been AFCB's principle to play out from the back. If the players don't feel confident receiving the ball from Ryan and are making mistakes because of it we could see a change in keeper in the next few games.

Eddie Howe though will want to keep Ryan in the team because it is the best place where he can learn. The yellow card count and Ryan's need to think a bit quicker when he has the ball are worries that Howe could do without, but they exist and it's a matter of dealing with the problems. With a few good games Ryan can get over this. I just hope it doesn't become costly for the team.

Cherries' form dips as Blackburn record first away win 1:3 (plus Match Day Gallery)

Match Report
AFCB 1 v 3 Blackburn Rovers

28 September 2013

Attendance: 9441

The Cherries looked in good spirits before this game and with a win it would have been possible for them to sneak into the top six, but that was never going to be the case when AFCB met a team that got on top of them right from the start. Even with one wrist in a cast, Jordan Rhodes looked an ominous predator, stalking his prey, while the Cherries were unusually nervous and stuttered rather than getting into gear or finding any flow to their game. By half time the game would be virtually out of sight and while one team would again go down to 10-men, it wasn't going to be to AFCB's advantage this time, although they were much brighter with a man less in the second period.

Bournemouth made one change to the starting line up with Shaun MacDonald coming in for Richard Hughes in central midfield. Ryan Fraser was held back on the bench along with Mohamed Coulibaly and Andrew Surman if required.

Tommy's routine did not bring much luck this time.
From the start it was clear that Blackburn saw this game as very winnable and they set up to counter AFCB's three at the back with a 4-4-2 formation with Best and Rhodes working hard all afternoon to press well up the pitch. After a couple of free kicks either way, it was a nervy start with Blackburn having a throw near AFCB's box that was met by Elphick before falling to a Blackburn player who looped it up harmlessly into Allsop's hands. 

MacDonald was struggling to get the ball out from the back and it was O'Kane who perhaps showed how Bournemouth could have mixed it up with a superb long pass out to Francis. Grabban brought a bit style with a fabulous quick turn and AFCB had a corner on five minutes. Taken short, the ball quickly found its way to Tokelo on the near post and we all thought he had scored a good goal, only to find that an off side flag had gone up. 

Just as we were getting over that, it was Rhodes on the spin and in on goal at the other end and Ward just about did enough to hold him off, with Allsop rushing out to make a scrambled save. Allsop was a bag of nerves and as he slowly went about working who to pass out to he was easily closed on by Leon Best who charged down his kick for a throw in. I'm not sure that Allsop ever recovered all game. He didn't seem at the races and neither did his team mates in the first half.

A few moments later and Best provided a ball into the six yard box from the left wing and in an instance Rhodes had run in front of Cook and, with a diving header in the six yard box, he put Blackburn one up with nine minutes gone. Oh dear! Shades of Ricardo Fuller and the Blackpool game there.

Blackburn were looking more powerful and quicker to everything. So quick in fact that Rantie was given a not so glamorous kick in the face by Evans for which the Blackburn player received the first yellow card. Bournemouth then managed to see Cook get on the end of a Pitman cross which Kean plucked safely out of the air, but at least it was goal bound.

Blackburn soon had possession back and won a corner which Cook headed out only to find King go on one of his mazy runs to earn another corner. Bournemouth were really struggling to get any grip on the game with MacDonald and Pitman guilty of conceding possession too easily with stray passes. Blackburn seemed to be able to turnover play at will. MacDonald's frustration resulted in a yellow for a foul on King.

Rhodes took the free kick on 15 minutes from the edge of the box and Allsop pulled off a diving save. It was a physical game with Blackburn out muscling MacDonald and Elphick at times. On the rare moments Grabban received the ball he looked mighty confident and was easily AFCB's best looking player of the first half. Rantie was not capable of holding the ball up as well while Francis and Elphick at the other end were having to cut out defence splitting passes. Tommy was doing his best but picked up a yellow for a challenge on Leon Best on 22 minutes.

Blackburn were dominating the pattern of play. Pitman was swamped and laid a poor pass off allowing Evans to find himself running right at AFCB's defence and he slotted the ball over to Best who had a simple task of making it 0:2 after 23 minutes. The Blackburn fans were jubilant having not had an away win yet. 

Grabban and Pugh were instrumental in winning a corner on 25 minutes, but the ball came straight back down the pitch and Macca still could not hold on to Best who was causing havoc by now. Ward tried to clear a ball in the box with Allsop helping, just doing enough to punch it away. A glimmer of hope came when Rantie pulled a stunning turn on the centre back, but he then overran the ball. Grabban was having to come deeper to collect the ball and a further problem for Eddie Howe then matured as MacDonald had to go off with a knee injury. He was replaced by Richard Hughes just after the half hour.

As a contest a boxing referee would have stopped the contest by now. Allsop was hesitating and looked dumbfounded whenever standing with the ball in his box, not knowing when to throw it out quickly or when to kick. Even the usually comfortable Hughes was one of those who did not look pleased to receive the ball on the D with an on rushing Blackburn player on his back.

AFCB were still fighting with Pitman and Rantie up the pitch trying to get their shots off, but they were getting squeezed out and when Pitman did cross there would be nobody there on the end. Leon Best was back on the ball and creating more menace with a shot that went over and then working another move into the box by turning Ward and shooting wide. AFCB were being forced to defend most of the time with  Elphick next to make clearance. Best was picked out on the edge of the box for a wicked drive that caused Allsop to make a good save on 38 minutes.

The game was virtually decided then when Elphick chose to shove King in the box, seeing it as the only way he could deal with his energy. It was untidy, probably unnecessary and left the referee with little option but to point towards the spot. Rhodes then stepped up and stroked in one of the laziest penalties you will see, with Allsop diving left and the ball headed for the right hand bottom corner. That was that then, 0:3 and five minutes to half time.The home fans were pretty dismayed by now.

Grabban and Rantie kept the ball at the Blackburn end towards the end of the half with Rantie beating a couple of players before seeing his shot blocked out for a corner. Elphick was the given a yellow having taken down King and disagreeing with the referee more than anything. The first half was one that the Cherries were just going to have to write off.

There is a Full Match Day Gallery - click here.

Second Half
Pitman was relieved of his duties at half time allowing Fraser to come on. The referee was keen to keep the card count up and what seemed on the advice of the Blackburn players after a high kick Hughes found himself on a yellow card, which Eddie Howe later said should not have earned a booking . Grabban again looked our best hope of getting something from the game and had a shot go over. After another speculative effort from Best, the game became a total fiasco for the Cherries when Hughes was given a second yellow on 50 minutes. He didn't even bother to wait to see the red card. 

Grabban dropped back into centre midfield and Tokelo played up front on his own. Allsop was forced to come out to claim in front of Rhodes whose shot went out for a corner. Best then had a break where he ran virtually the length of the pitch before Ward caught up with him on the edge of the box.

AFCB then came so close to getting a goal back. On 56 minutes Francis and Fraser worked the ball up the right wing before finding Rantie who fed the ball on to Pugh on the left and his shot smacked against the left upright. Fraser's follow up was blocked and the chance had gone. Pugh managed a cross moments later when Fraser seemed to be hold back from heading it.

Blackburn made some substitutes on 62 minutes with Best being replaced by Olsson and Evans being replaced by Williamson. AFCB were starting to play the better of the two teams now. A corner from the right almost had the desired effect when Elphick met it on the volley only for Kean to pull off a superb reaction save at  virtually point blank range. It just wasn't going to be our day.

Pugh seemed dead set on seeing Fraser head the ball from one of his crosses. Meanwhile, Lowe was given a yellow card for a challenge on O'Kane. Blackburn were pushing for a fourth goal but Francis made a good covering tackle on 68 minutes. O'Kane showed his skill and composure on the ball more than once or twice in beating players and turning them inside out, but he had had a fairly quiet game.

Another Pugh cross to Fraser was palmed away by the Blackburn keeper for a corner and a resulting cross from Fraser saw the keeper go down holding his hip. Kean did not seem that worried at the time but he was less pleased when, on 74 minutes, Rantie supplied Fraser on a darting run on through the middle, a few moments later, and the young Scot bagged his first goal for the Cherries to the obvious delight of the home fans, stroking the ball home with precision.

While AFCB fans may have hoped for a last 20 minute salvage act there was no further fire from this one spark of life. In fact, Rhodes almost sneaked in again by hitting the post but was caught offside. 

Pugh made way for Coulibaly on 81 minutes and Marrow came on for Blackburn after 84 minutes replacing Lowe. While Rhodes saw another of his shot go just wide on 89 minutes the game that was just about the end of the action. 

AFCB did not get going today until the second 45 minutes. They were pressurised extremely well and beaten to the ball just about everywhere on the pitch. The hesitation from Allsop just sapped any confidence the team had for playing out from the back and with the crowd then getting frustrated and on the players backs for the sloppy passes it went from bad to worse. 

Some days you get the breaks at the right times and the game goes for you. Today, AFCB were beaten by a well organised team that harried and work to get a result. They made Bournemouth look poor and at times we probably were short of our best. Still, you have to accept that AFCB are learning their trade in this league and there will be difficult days like this.     

Allsop, Francis, Cook, Elphick, Ward, Pugh (81 Coulibaly), O'Kane, MacDonald (32 Hughes), Pitman (46 Fraser), Rantie, Grabban.


Flahavan, Harte, Addison, Hughes, Surman, Coulibaly, Fraser, 

Balckburn Rovers
Kean, Kane, Spurr, G Hanley, Dann, Lowe (84 Marrow), King, Evans (63 Williamson), Cairney, Best (63 Olsson), Rhodes. 

Blackburn Rovers Subs
Eastwood, Kilgallon, Morris, Olsson, Williamson, Taylor, Marrow.

Player ratings
Allsop 3, Francis 5, Cook 4, Elphick 4, Ward 5, Pugh 6 (sub Coulibaly 5), O'Kane 4, MacDonald 4 (sub Hughes 4), Pitman 4 (sub Fraser 8), Rantie 5, Grabban 6.

There is a Full Match Day Gallery - click here.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

AFCB mascot joy for Deklan Hill

I have always been pleased to offer up the chance for fellow AFCB supporters to come on Cherry Chimes and tell us something about the club if they have had a valuable experience or have something to share and I'm pleased to say today I can have a day off! Damien Hill, who sits next to me in the Family Stand (poor him) has finally given in to my demands and has kindly written the following piece on the day his son, Deklan, had as an AFCB mascot at a recent match. It should give those wondering how the day is organised a little more idea of the kind of time that their son or daughter will have as well as the proud parents. Here's Deklan's story told by his dad.

Wow, meeting the players in the changing room before the game.
Deklan and the other mascots fill their autograph books.
Deklan's day to remember
My son's birthday was in September and due to the international break there was no game on his birthday weekend, so we booked for him to be the mascot at the home game verses Blackpool. We booked as soon as the fixtures were released as we heard that places can quickly sell out and to make sure we got this fixture.

We are season ticket holders in the family stand, Deklan, Andy (nephew) and myself, and we enjoy going to the games. My wife (Nelia) wanted to come to the game as she had never seen our beloved AFCB play, so after a little persuasion of upgrading Andy's ticket, the wife was able to go.

We had a confirmation letter from the the club to be at the ground for 1 O'clock to meet at the players entrance, and as Nelia had never been before we arrived at the ground for 12:30 so she could meet all the players, as they arrived and to have a walk around the club shop, and to look at the wall of fame, behind the east stand (she actually new some of the faces on the wall to my surprise!). 

So with 1 O'clock fast approaching, we made our way back to the players entrance where we were greeted by an AFCB official and were told to wait inside the red barrier, which made Deklan feel very proud and important. Here we were told that Deklan and the other mascots would go inside the changing rooms to meet the players, and to get their autographs and pictures taken with their favourite player, this would take about 1/2 an hour, so the parents had time to get a coffee and a beer in the Legends Bar.

Deklan with Tommy Elphick.
When we returned to pick Deklan up, he had been given a goodie bag with a programme, pen and autograph book, of which he had filled with all of the players signatures. Not surprisingly, he had the biggest smile on his face that you could imagine. 

We were then told to come back at 2 O'clock and Deklan would go inside the stadium before being taken onto the pitch to play football. The it would be an even more exciting moment for him a bit  later when he would come out of the tunnel with the players before joining into the line up on the pitch and shaking hands with all the Blackpool players, just  moments before the kick-off. So at 2 O'clock we left him once again and made our way into the ground to watch the players warm up and to see Deklan have his kick around on the pitch.

Deklan and other mascots have a knock about before kick-off.
Deklan was having fun with all the other mascots and Cherry Bear playing football and then it was time to go into the tunnel, wait for music to start and to come out with the players. Nelia and I eagerly took to our seats and waited to see the teams come out. With the wife and crowd in full voice (taught her a few songs before we left home) the teams entered the field and Deklan lead the team out with Simon Francis, as Tommy was on the bench, mum had a little tear in here eye and one proud dad as pleased as punch stood happy cheering on. Deklan then had his photo taken with the captains, referee and other mascots and was then shown back to his seat with us to watch the game.

On to the pitch with Simon Francis leading the team out.
Deklan shakes hands with the Blackpool players.
All the mascots and Cherry Bear.

The referee, assistant referees and captains join in.
The result didn't go our way as we lost 1-2 but that didn't spoil our day and we all went home happy and wait eagerly for the Football League Show to see Deklan on the TV, leading out the team. A great day was had by all and it was a day Deklan will always remember. Thank you AFCB for the memory stick, full of pictures, that we received in the post and for a wonderful day.

Who else will line up with Rhodes?

Blackburn Rovers have had quite a new team to bed in this season as Gary Bowyer has brought in a string of new signings that are hoping to make the grade at Eawood Park.

Among the new defenders are Mathew Kilgallon from Huddersfield in July but he hasn't featured for them yet this season. He has played for Sunderland in the Premiership and was a former team mate of keeper Paul Robinson at Leeds Utd. Tommy Spurr, who wears number 3, also signed from Doncaster, but hasn't had much of a run in the team yet.

The wing threat will come from Ben Marshall who signed for Blackburn in the summer from Leicester City. Some of you may also remember Chris Taylor who was a mainstay of the Oldham team in recent seasons. Another familiar name, Alan Judge is also at Blackburn having signed from Notts County. Cory Evans who plays in midfield is another summer signing having come in from Hull City.

Having such a crop of new players can of course work for you if they can gel together quickly and I think it is a wise move for a club that has been in the Premiership and needs ambitious youngsters to fit in with some more of its experienced players. 

The task facing AFCB is not a faded Premiership team then that has run out of steam but more of a revitalised team that has something  to prove. A few of their players have chosen to stay at Blackburn rather than seek moves, but it is a young team as a whole. They have not won away from home yet and AFCB will be trying to make sure that they are not the first of Blackburn's triumphs on the road.

Last time out against Huddersfield the Balckburn team line up was:
Kean, Kane, Spurr, G Hanley, Dann, Lowe, King, Taylor, Evans, Rhodes, and Cairney.

Eastwood, Kilgallon, Marshall, Olsson, Williamson, Judge and Best. 

Blackburn Rovers Away form
AFCB's Home form

Enjoy the game today. I'll have another story going up mid-morning today - a mascot special!

If you have not recently looked up
 Rival Lines, there is an exclusive chat with Michael Delap of the Wild Blackburn Rovers

Friday, 27 September 2013

Blackburn Rovers always carry a goal threat

You are a bit unlucky this week because you will get a double dose of my thoughts on Blackburn Rovers if you buy the MatchDay programme this weekend. Cherry Chimes was pleased to be invited to say a few things about the Lancashire team for the View from the stands page, which was good fun.

The match facing AFCB will be another difficult encounter, but I am hopeful that this is more to come from the Cherries having seen how they played for parts of the last game away from home. It is difficult to look much further than Jordan Rhodes when you are assessing Blackburn's goal threat potential. He is simply different class to most other strikers in the division. He is on six goals already. I imagine Elliott Ward will be the one who goes toe-to-toe with him with his experience. But Leon Best is a also no mean goalscorer and was a major signing when he transferred from Newcastle Utd for £3m in the summer of July 2012.

The Blackburn's form has been fairly good of late as they have started to pick up points at home especially and the draws that they have secured away from home were against Derby and high flying Burnley. Even when Blackburn were beaten 2:1 by Leicester they managed 12 shots on target. Last time out at home against Huddersfield they also kept James Vaughan quite which we failed to do and Blackburn recorded their first clean sheet of the season.

So AFCB know they are playing a good team this weekend that need to be kept subdued. In three or our four home games this season the opposition has been reduced to 10-men and it will perhaps be on Eddie Howe's mind that if the same scenario plays out in this game the Cherries will have to do better than they did against Blackpool and show a bit more urgency that they did against Barnsley if they want the three points.

Don't forget to read up on
 Rival Lines. Ahead of the Blackburn Rovers fixture Cherry Chimes has an exclusive chat with Michael Delap of the Wild Blackburn Rovers

Can Rantie outshine Rhodes? (plus interview with the Wild Blackburn Rover blogger)

I am looking forward to seeing what Tokelo Rantie has to offer in a home game with a full 90 minutes to show his explosive qualities. He will be up against some very experienced defenders in Hanley and Dann perhaps who kept a clean sheet against Huddersfield. He has to keep their defenders busy though, because up the other end they certainly have a talent in Jordan Rhodes.

The Championship is certainly a league where sharp shooters are worth their weight in gold. While Tokelo says he does not feel pressure, I think the home crowd will feel the pressure for him as he tries to get on the score sheet for AFC Bournemouth. AFCB fans will be doing everything they can to spur him on and it will be good to see how he reacts to having that backing behind him. Let's hope he thrives on it.

While Tokelo will be the first to say it is about doing a job for the team and that as long as AFCB win it is a good day, he will be wanting repay the faith that Jason and Eddie have had in signing him and giving him a start in the last game. I think the scene is set for a big day for Tokelo and if he does produce it is going to take something to slow down the momentum that AFCB have started to create in this division. The team is not going into games thinking about anything expect how to win and it is clear to see that they belong in the Championship.

If the team can keep Blackburn and Rhodes quiet for the 90 minutes and give Tokelo a couple of chances to break the deadlock, we could be in for a special day.

Please also have a read of Rival Lines today. Ahead of the Blackburn Rovers fixture Cherry Chimes speaks with Michael Delap, the Wild Blackburn Rover. He gives some honest answers about his club and at one point admits: "
I've never been truly embarrassed to be a Rovers fan before, but last season certainly tested the resolve." 

Check out Rival Lines for more..

Thursday, 26 September 2013

McDermott and McQuoid are ready to step in

Both Donal McDermott and Josh McQuoid are not so far away from making a reappearance in the team by the looks of the current situation. The substitues' bench against Middlesbrough was graced by both of these players, although MacDonald was perhaps more surprised than most to be named in the final squad with Ryan Fraser pulling out just before the match kicked off.

The squad is really being tested now and while others are out I expected Eddie Howe to put at least one of these two on to the pitch as it drew towards the end against Middlesbrough, but he chose not to make a change. Eddie did have one substitute left up his sleeve but for once Grabban, Pugh and Pitman were allowed to play out the game with only Thomas and MacDonald coming on in the second 45 minutes of play.

McQuoid will surely be used in upcoming games.
With Pugh, Eddie may have been taking a risk leaving him out because he was on a yellow card. Still, when he kept Pugh on in the Barnsley game and he came up with the vital goal and that could have been in his thinking. So for McQuoid especially, the wait goes on but I don't expect it to be long before he gets his opportunity.

Donal: a late call up to the bench against Middlesbrough.

If Eddie really does see McQuoid as a forward option he might well be selected to come on to replace one of the other forwards ahead of Wes Thomas in one of the next few games. Giving him a bit more time to get over the surgery may not be such a bad thing in the long term. We don't need another player breaking down having only just come back to fitness.

Grabban and Pitman could benefit from Rantie's arrival

It may seem strange at first to think that the addition of another striker could help your prospects in the team, but I honestly think that Brett Pitman and Lewis Grabban can benefit from Tokelo Rantie's appearance on the scene. That is at least while he finds his feet in the team and the Championship, and carries the weight of expectation to score his first goal and to live up to his high billing. 

For while Tokelo is taking the media spotlight and drawing the attention of the opposition and is the one that may be singled out for special attention, Grabban and Pitman will find a tad less pressure on themselves. Lewis has already bagged five goals and Brett is catching up on three. I don't really mind who gets the goals as long as they keep coming, and if it so happens that Tokelo sets up more than he scores fans should not see this as any less of a contribution.

Top scorer, Lewis Grabban.
If Tokelo finds it a struggle to do something spectacular he may find that he is the one that is over looked for a starting space eventually. But if he is putting in performances that are hurting the opposition and others are benefiting he will keep his place. All goal scorers go through barren spells and it may be that Wes Thomas or Josh McQuoid can contribute with some extra fire power.

I just hope that we don't expect too much too soon from the star signing as he has only just touched down in the country and he has a massive learning curve ahead of him. Eddie and Jason though have talked him up a fair bit so they are sure he will deliver.

Brett Pitman is doing okay from the penalty spot. Can
he score on open play now?
Meanwhile, Brett Pitman must be enjoying all those headlines this week of closing in on, James Hayter, Steve Fletcher and Ted McDougall's scoring records for the Cherries. I suspect though that records are the kind of thing that most players think about only after they retire and Brett, like Lewis and Tokelo, probably just wants to get the next goal, whenever that may be. Sooner rather than later please!     

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Subtle changes at Goldsands stadium

New crest sitting proudly at the stadium.
Have you been looking around the ground of late? Someone has been sprucing up the place a little more every time I put my head around  the corner. I don't mean the casual sweeping in front of the main reception, although thank you for whoever ensures my Cherry Chimes brick looks sparkling every time I set foot near the ground, I mean the new crest is ever present now. More than that, the new South stand has been adorned with some very prominent writing - 'Ted MacDougall stand' - writ large, right across the back of the stand. 

It is a good job Ted has a long name to run right along the enormous stand.
Those who wonder a little further around the Goldsands stadium will find that the Wall of Fame has been steadily growing. Now there are a few more AFCB sides covering the red bricks and it is really something to see the 2009/10 promotion winning team, in joyous colour, joining some of the older teams. My favourite has to be the 1982 team, as that was only the second season that I followed AFCB, even though I was well aware of Ted McDougall's exploits in the early 1970s.

Promotion from League Two to League One 2009-10

Promotion from League One to the Championship 2012/13
I do worry though if the club knows what to improve next. You would think that there is not much more they can do to smarten up the place but the ideas keep flooding in and it is great to see. I have to put my request in to Mr Demin for that swimming pool in the South stand when the club further rebuild for the Premiership.  

AFCB's end-to-end games are value for money

While I am a mad enough AFCB fan to enjoy them playing in any game I have to say that the end-to-end character of matches that seem to be happening with the Cherries in the Championship is a joy to watch. In recent seasons I have seen the team pay well and be devastating on the break, but now there is a new aspect to their menace and its driven by their ability to play keep ball. It is not only pretty to watch it's extremely effective when the team can string 20 or 30 passes together.

Keeping the passes short and sharp is a great weapon if AFCB can keep the momentum going. The spaces they created against Middlesbrough was quite something to see in that first 20 minutes. They have that ability to pull players around all over the pitch when they are really fizzing the ball to each other.

Tommy Elphick likes to mix his passing a bit.
We saw Tommy Elphick try and get away with a few longer passes from the back which did not come off. That resulted in some of the end-to end play as did Pitman getting caught out on the half way line for Middlesbrough's third goal, although I would say that was more due to the ball played into him when he had a player ready to step in on his blind side. But you have to vary things a bit to catch the opposition off guard and it this thinking of all aspects of the game that our players have taken on board that fascinates me. That is Jason Tindall and Eddie Howe getting them to play the way they want and "being brave", as they say.

If in doubt, Wardy know's what to do - row z.
Receiving the ball and shielding it well is something that that team did well and we have players in Arter, O'Kane and MacDonald who I think do that especially well. I am no longer fearful of them being apprehensive about going to any one else's ground. But the team has only had one away win at Doncaster. Next month they will be severely tested at Leeds, Forest and Leicester. I wonder if these will be high goal encounters. If they can knock the ball about at the Riverside with confidence they can do it anywhere. It may be like a school boy game when it gets to the last 10 minutes and rather frantic but at least that keeps me in my seat to the end of the game.

Finally, a bit of reflection - well done to the AFCB U18 team that got a winning result against Plymouth yesterday and unlucky to those who also played against Argyle in the U21 Premiership Cup. It looks like we will have to hope for a good run in the FA Cup this season. 

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Zonal marking: here to stay?

I was watching the Middlesbrough v AFCB game on the Cherries player last night and it was evident that the preference for Bournemouth is to often mark zonally from free kicks. I suppose that the reason for doing that has been that leaving players to mark up man to man has seen us come a cropper in the past. To me it's a continental way of playing that I find rather risky, but then I was never a defender and as an attacker I always looked to get into those spaces, which is where you are supposed to cover with a zonal system.

I can't say that our defenders are overly small or not muscular enough to stand up to each attacker individually, but Eddie Howe and Jason Tindall must believe that the team is at less risk of conceding if they mark zonally. I will say that the back line is usually pretty straight and the defenders do step up to set the off side trap well.

But zonal marking has its problems. We have seen several players look to head the same ball away. In the Blackpool game, for example, when none of our players got a good head on the ball from that early long throw, the resulting bounce gave Ricardo Fuller plenty of time to choose his spot to score their first goal. I think the zonal system works well if you win the first challenge, but it is open to some risk when you don't and you are not necessarily going to be standing on top of a rival player when the ball breaks into space. Forwards will also have a running start on defenders when they are standing statically defending a space in front of them.

The game is about percentages though and the run of the ball. You can get away with things some weeks and not in others. In the Championship the quality of the strikers means that they are willing to take a gamble now and again. When they position themselves in the right place finishing comes naturally.

What helps the Cherries in choosing the zonal way to defend is that they really have to communicate with each other and have to keep extremely visual of potential threats and quick movement. If it helps our players switch on more, then I'm all for it. Looking at our goals against column though, we are finding it difficult in this league to get a run of games where we keep a clean sheet. That has to be an objective for the team and I am sure they will be aiming to do that against some of the league's best strikers. 

While people can say at times we have been unlucky to let in so many goals, better positioning and early clearances will lessen the chance for mishaps around our penalty area. I'm not sure that AFCB are yet totally on top of dealing with balls that are in and around their six yard box and some of that must also come into the domain of the keeper. Ryan Allsop will admit he still has much to learn. As a shot stopper he his undoubtedly doing the business, but we might find that he still has a bit more to pick up in the way of decision making, and when to come and when not to. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why they say keepers get better with age and experience.

Hughes proves his value

The performance of Richard Hughes in the Middlesbrough match should not be underestimated. He has not started for AFCB for quite some time but had mainly been used as a late sub to tie-up games if the Cherries came under pressure. He has always been an excellent passer or the ball and one of the best at retaining possession so perhaps it was not so surprsing that Eddie Howe selected him to start at the weekend as he attempted to pass Middlesbrough to death.

Hughes managed to keep going until the 76th minute before he was replaced by Shaun MacDonald who had been struggling with a hip problem, picked up in the Barnsley match. Macca as always put in a strong performance as well when he came on. The man who perhaps would have liked to have had a more imposing game was Eunan O'Kane.

With Harry Arter and Andrew Surman on the treatment table we are still stretched in centre midfield and with the matches against Blackburn, Millwall and Leeds coming up fast I am hoping that some of AFCB's players get back soon.

At home the team has to take the game to the opposition in more of a creative way rather than playing on the break and Macca and O'Kane may be favourites to start against Blackburn, but Hughes has already shown that he is a safe option that still has much to offer in breaking up moves and starting things off for AFCB.

Monday, 23 September 2013

I didn't think AFCB knew how to draw

There is always probably one team that goes longer at most at managing not to pick up a draw and this season it is definitely the Cherries that take that honour, if it is in fact an honour. I say that because I felt in the Blackpool home game we should have got a point and ended up losing while in the Barnsley home game we could have drawn or even lost the game, even though we ended up winning it. But come the Middlesbrough game and AFCB's ability to evade the draw ran out or perhaps it was more of a bonus not to end up with a defeat.

I think the fact that the team had had no draws up until that point is a sign that AFCB do go out to win every match no matter who it is against and no matter if the team is home or away. It could also mean that we perhaps play a little more attacking and are open to the counter attack more than most. We have had our heavy defeats when faced with ruthless strikers and that does get me worried when we have Jordan Rhodes and Blackburn Rovers up next, but in the main Bournemouth has gone about its work on the pitch well.

Maintaining possession has certainly been a mainstay of AFCB's success. Gianfranco Zola and Owen Coyle remarked that the Cherries keep the ball well and in Zola's opinion much better than he and his players expected. It is hard for teams to hurt you when you have the ball, but it does not guarantee you the points. Defending from set plays better could have given Bournemouth a draw in games like we had against Blackpool, but getting that first goal also probably helped us avoid draws against Wigan, Charlton and Doncaster.

While we have tended to either win or lose the table looks pretty good for AFCB, because most other teams are finding any wins hard to come by and draw and defeats all too frequent. So I am not despondent about the odd defeat as long as we are picking up those wins even more frequently. After all, one win in three games is better than drawing two and losing one. 

Having managed a draw in our last away game, AFCB now need to extend their home run and find the elusive back-to-back home result again.  UTCIAD!

Pass them off the park

Both Eddie Howe and Willo remarked on how well AFCB had gone about their task at Middlesbrough. It was not a case of parking the bus, but a real attempt to pass them off the pitch. Are AFCB becoming the Arsenal of the Championship?

Working on keeping possession.
The first 15-20 minutes were a lesson in keep ball from the commentary I have heard and teams in the Championship are not going to find it easy to stay with a team that can confidently build from the back and string 20 or 30 passes together while having an end product on the end of it. That is where this team now is and with Rantie and Grabban in razor sharp form, AFCB will be a match for any team in the division before long.

The Cherries are not just picking up points by holding teams away from home. They are trying to raid teams of all three points and it is a bold, and at the moment, rewarding game plan which has resulted in those heavy mauling early on but the players are now learning to plug those holes and punish other teams for their failings. As a project in progress I am more than a little excited. Early days it may be but AFCB are at the top end of the table and not in the bottom six where I probably expected them to be at this stage. 

So what is next? We have some heavyweight teams to front up against in the next few weeks and I'm really looking forward to it. A lot of these teams have big pitches like the Riverside and that really suits the Cherries game.

Some teams would not play four of five passes in and around their own box but AFCB are taking on the challenge and opening up teams by sucking them in and breaking with deadly pace.

For those of our like me missing out on the England Ladies' international at the Goldsands Stadium, there was a dance competition for mascots at the weekend and Eddie Bear ended up winning! Some pictures of the mascot competition are on Robert & Stephen's Corner.

Big teams still underestimate AFCB

Some teams in the Championship either are not doing their homework or have an overgrown self-importance of their status in today's game. While we are less than 10 games into the new season the astute managers in the Championship who have not yet played the Cherries will have noted that they are mixing it with teams near the top of the table, and while AFCB have lost a few games they have won just as many. Still, there are those who see a visit of the Cherries to their ground as an easy three points for their team, if the home team turns up. There may be more rude surprises to come for them.

Lining up to deliver more surprises.

I quite like being the underdog and long may those over confident managers put out their team of hopefuls who play for once huge clubs and get turned over by the ambitious Cherries. Away fixtures for AFCB fans are extremely exciting this season. I don't think I have been in such big stadiums apart from when I have watched England play in internationals and the odd Premier League game, when I have been a guest of some sponsor. Yet, for our players the scenery does not seem to matter. Eddie Howe has installed in them a determined mind set that if they play their passing football and look to get at the opposition from the start they are more than capable of winning away from home in the Championship.

I was perhaps apprehensive about how AFCB would do going away to some of the teams in the Championship, but I see them as really being part of this league now.

I have been reading an excellent book that was just published last year called 'Moving the goalposts' by Rob Jovanovic (published by Pitch Publishing). It is a great read for any football fan but in it Rob talks about how there are common misconceptions about the great game with the stats being put through the mill. While Bournemouth only get one mention (that was to say they would have been relegated in 1994/5 instead of Cambridge Utd if it had been 2pts for a win and not 3pts), it does have some great detail on how those former top tier clubs have fallen away and the years that have passed by since teams like Brighton, Leeds Utd and Ipswich, for example have graced the top tier. Jovanovic (Twitter @NFFC150) also shows graphically how those getting away to a good start in their league in September often are their next May more often than not. Pick up a copy if you get the chance, your local library should have it.

What I am trying to say is that there are no prizes today for having a great history in the past. You make your own history and today AFCB are on their way to doing something special. Watch this space Championship managers - AFCB are coming to your ground and we don't like losing!    

All Departments' Kangeroo Court: Middlesbrough 3 v 3 AFCB is available to listen to for free at All Departments website or on the right hand panel of Cherry Chimes - just scroll down the page. 

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Riverside reflection: taking the positives

Eddie Howe reviewed the draw at the Riverside stadium as a positive result and I have to agree with him there. It would have been easy for the team to buckle and go under but they fought for a point and showed the character that will put them in good stead for the difficult games ahead.

What pleased me was the way in which Eddie Howe went about the game. AFCB could not field as string aside as Eddie would have liked. We then had Ryan Fraser pull up in the warm up with a tight hamstring. All the omens were hardly positive, but Bournemouth tried to keep the ball and pass their way to safety and early on the rewards came very fast with the two penalties that Pitman calmly put away.

In future games, Eddie may have a word to his players when they get into similar positions because it probably came as a bit of a surprise to be costing  two up in less than quarter of an hour. The players have to start looking at the table and believing that they are that good, because they really are. They could roll over many more teams in this division if they can play to a tempo and passing rhythm that hurts the opposition and I believe they will get even better.

Ryan did not feel he would do justice to himself if he had
played in the Middlesbrough match after feeling his thigh during the warm up.
I am glad that the injury list was kept down with only Ryan Fraser feeling a niggle. I think he would benefit from a bit of a rest having played more games than any other AFCB player with his added U21 international performances for Scotland.

Let's hope Ryan's thigh problem was just a twinge.

Eddie Howe admitted before a ball was kicked at the Riverside that, "anything we get here is a bonus because they are a top side and they've spent a lot of money building what they think will be a Premier League challenging side this year for them. And we've come away from home and done ourselves proud."

AFCB's brave point will revitalise the team

There will not be many more hard earned points than that won at the Riverside yesterday. While going 0:2 up would seem like it was going to be a comfortable afternoon for the Cherries, bad luck and a dogged fight by the Middlesbrough team made it a very difficult 90 minutes for AFCB in the end. The fact that Boro did get their noses ahead 3:2 and looked like winning the game is what Bournemouth can draw on for inspiration in future games. They came from behind in the end and salvaged a draw.

Eddie Howe thought it was a very brave performance. 
"It was an excellent performance for us even if we had got beaten. We came here with a game plan to try and pass the ball and we needed to be brave and we certainly did that, some times probably too much... We went toe-to-toe with a really good football team and tried to out football them," said Eddie. "We had a great start and they showed their quality by coming back into it and then we showed great character to get a leveller.

"It is easy at that stage of the game to feel sorry for yourself." said Eddie Howe. "Be unlucky losers...everyone says unlucky and we go again, but the players showed great character from that point on we were the dominant team. We had a second wind in effect and scored a deserved goal."

The amazing thing is that that AFCB's third goal was more or less earned by Elliott Ward's presence in the opposition's box and his calm manner when being closed down. We have run a poll in the last week to ask who will be AFCB's first defender to score and most of you plumped for Elliott and he so nearly delivered, although the final goal was as an own goal by Jonathan Woodgate. To me it doesn't matter. The ball crossed the line and Ward had made a nuisance of himself up front as far as the opposition was concerned when the game seemed all but lost for the Cherries.

Eddie Howe could only shower further praise on the former Norwich defender: "He showed real quality and he's done that a few times when he has marauded forward and he's shown real quality. It was a really good goal, really well worked. A lot of our football was really brave today. We received the ball deep in our half under pressure and  that pleases me more than anything as we really have to be different. We really have to try and break the mould  to be successful this year an the players have certainly taken that on today.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Elphick: the league doesn't lie

Tommy Elphick was delighted to play a part in the draw against Middlesbrough and thought that a point was more than deserved with his team's performance. The returning captain played for 90 minutes and he coped with the often changing formation that was triggered by the way the game panned out.

"You've got to be happy when you come to places like this and come away with a draw," he said when speaking to BBC Radio Solent. "Obviously as a defender you would like to come off the pitch nil-nil, but that wasn't , meant to be.  It is a little bit difficult to take when you are two-nil up and they come back and level it, but after you go three-two down it shows great character to keep plugging away and keep sticking to our principles and to get a point out of the game.

"Two nil is a score line that is underestimated. It's a dangerous scoreline. You see a lot of teams go two-nil up, especially early and they gets back into the game, the other team so when you're in front like that you have to sort of.. well we lacked a bit of nous. It was probably time to go a bit longer and try and get them on the back foot rather than us draw pressure in you know. It's something to learn from. But today there are a lot of positives to come out of the game."

Tommy remarked that Elliott Ward showed his coolness to get the equaliser. "It showed we've got goals all over the pitch," he said. "And that's another positive."

When asked about if the team feel that they now belong in the league with results like this Elphick responded: "I think you've got to think that. The table isn't lying. We are where we are for a reason. I know it's early doors and  the league won't really take shape until Christmas time, but we are there and  the longer we can stay in there the better."

Match Description: Boro and Cherries play out an entertaining 3:3 draw

Middlesbrough 3 v  3 AFCB
21 September 2013

Attendance 13,617 (340 AFCB)

Eddie Howe made three changes from the mid-week game with Rantie making his first start and Elphick and Hughes coming into the team. Shaun MacDonlad was fit enough to make the bench and Charlie Daniels did not make the squad, while Ryan Fraser surprisingly found himself on the bench and then had a tight hamstring in the warm up, as McDermott came in for him on the subs bench. So it looked like AFCB would be playing 3-5-2 with Francis and Pugh as wing backs and Pitman playing just behind Grabban and Rantie.

"It's a very happy camp on back of Tuesday's big win, said Eddie Howe."We are entering a tough run of games. We have not been to Riverside recently. It's a huge stadium lovely arena that could suit our passing game. We need to start well and defend well to get any thing. ..We can take great heart from our last away game at Doncaster."

Match Description

Listening to BBC Radio Solent

AFCB did line up as a back three and what a start to the game. Rantie is taken down inside three minutes after a ball through from Grabban and it's a penalty to the Cherries. Rhys Williams, Boro's captain, took him down and the ref pointed to the spot. Pitman then smashed the penalty right down the middle and made it one-nil to the Cherries! 4 minutes gone.

Woodgate had a header at the far post just wide while the AFCB fans were still celebrating. Butterfield then had a shot and Allsop palmed it away from goal.

Rantie and Pugh link up and Friend has to put the ball out for a corner kick. Steve Cook tried to get there but William headed away, Grabban put the ball back in and Fraser Richardson handled the ball! Pitman stepped up again and two-nil! 12 minutes on the clock.

Middlesbrough appear shell-shocked. Their supporters are booing. What a chance to grab three points here for the Cherries. Bournemouth are moving the ball around well. O'Kane finds Pugh and a back heel to Rantie, before Pugh receives it back and wins another corner.

Hughes takes the left side corner and Pugh then crosses and Cook hits the ball a foot over the cross bar - great strike. 16 minutes gone and Midlesbrough just can't get much possession. Butterfield does cross though and Ward clears. Carayol comes for a header but Allsop claims the ball.

Whitehead on the centre circle is devoid of ideas it seems, Cook clears the ball for a moment but in what turns out to be a scramble Kemira stabs the ball in from six yards after 19 minutes and its 2:1. Willo said Allsop could have come for the ball but it was a mix up with a centre back and Boro were claiming for a penalty as a player was bowled over before the ball was stabbed home.

Rantie finds Pugh in the box and he goes down. No penalty this time. Ward then stopped Adomah as he broke at the other end. Francis went down in a heap as Friend takes him out. Things are very physical.

Francis is then penalised for a foul on Friend. Leadbitter delivers the ball, but Elphick heads it out for the corner. Kemira concedes a free kick though. Pitman has a problem with his wrist and gets it seen to.

Carayol's cross hits Marc Pugh on the arm and it's a free kick on the edge of the box. Kamara got to the ball first but headed over with AFCB defending zonally. "O'Kane and Grabban are the quietest two players," says Kris Temple.

Carayol has a speculative shot and it deflects off an AFCB leg and it loops in over Allsop for 2:2. About 31 minutes gone and we are back where we started. The Cherries have reverted to 4-4-2 according to the AFCB blog.

Middlesbrough are keeping the ball better now. Butterfield is playing well and George Friend on the left. Kamara is down now.

The atmosphere is still quiet. Leadbitter keeps giving the ball away but Bournemouth can't capitalise. Francis gives a free kick away for a challenge on Adomah just before half time. Cook gets the ball away.

O'Kane was wiped out by Friend and manages to escape getting booked. Rantie goes past a couple of players and Hughes, then Pugh down the left before Rantie almost scores, but Friend puts it our for a corner. Elphick rises well for the corner but Boro clear.

Hughes find Pugh and Rantie is challenged by Whitehead and its out for a throw. O'Kane then gets the ball through to Hughes who has a poor wide of the post and it was half time.

Half Time

Grabban came out wide on the right and Pugh on the left, Rantie is the lone striker with Pitman just behind him - perhaps 4-2-3-1. Cook wins a free kick of Richardson by their own corner flag. Allsop puts the ball straight out though.

Four minutes gone in the second half and Rantie loses his man with a quick turn but Whitehead picks him off. Francis then infringes a Boro player and they have a free kick. Woodgate is up but loses out to Elphick. Friend sends in a cross and Kamara and Carayol almost get on the end with Allsop not coming to get the ball.
O'Kane then wins a free kick. Pitman took the kick but the keeper, Steele has the ball. Francis' cross and both Rantie and Pugh miss it. Middlesbrough with Leadbitter, Kamara goes round the outside of Pugh but Pugh gets a foot in.

Leadbitter's free kick is aimed at Williams who has a free header and it goes wide. Carayol is tackled by O'Kane and Rantie is then caught by the Boro centre half.

Pitman is doing some covering now as Boro look to get their first home win. Much of their pay is sideways though. Richardson aims for three red shirts, but Francis clears. Rantie is looking more isolated now. AFCB passing not so hot.

Bournemouth take off Rantie and bring on Wes Thomas with 30 minutes to go. AFCB are less open this half. Carayol creates a chance for Leadbitter but Francis just gets there in time.

Thomas goes down on the break in the box and cries for a penalty but it is not given. Richardson's cross to Kamara but Grabban clears. Friend then has it on the left and Adomah is challenged by Francis and wins a free kick. AFCB are not getting the decisions and Pitman may well have got a card here, but no he gets away with it. O'Kane challenges Whitehead strongly enough to make him head wide.

Carayol is running through the middle but Elphick blocks. Pugh gets booked as he fails to win a decision, 66 minutes gone. Still plenty of time to win this one. Ward plays the ball up to Pugh and Williams and Leadbitter come away with it, then Adomah has the ball in the corner.

Butterfield's 30 yard shot is blocked by Hughes, Leadbitter then gets it but Allsop saves almost punching it back into trouble. It's mainly Boro now and AFCB need more possession. Boro get a corner following a brave header from an AFCB defender.

Just 20 minutes remaining. Kamara is now caught offside as Shaun MacDonald warms up. Boro again coming forward as Carayol tries to get around Cook but Allsop smothers the ball. Pitman loses the ball on half way and with 16 minutes to go Leadbitter closes on goal and scores! 3:2 to the home side.  Disaster!

Shaun MacDonald comes on for Hughes with 77 minutes gone. AFCB revert to three at the back. Bournemouth then get a chance but there is too much pace on the cross. This will be a sickner if it ends up like this.

The Cherries are now taking the game to the Boro. MacDonald and Grabban gets a cross in but Woodgate puts the ball out for a corner. Kamara defends and Pugh crosses but Elphick puts the ball over with a header. Just 10 minutes to go.

Friend has been Boro's best player, according to Kris Temple. Pitman's corner at the near post is cleared by Williams. Francis down the right, passes to ward and it's an own goal - Woodgate. It's 3:3. A point would be great, 83 minutes gone. Great composure from Ward in the box apparently.

What a game! The Cherries the only team not to have drawn so far this season. O'Kane plays in Thomas and he is brought down. Williams is sent off as the last man and the free kick is outside the box.

Middlesbrough try to make three subs! Pitman can try and hit this from 25 yards. Carayol is off and Jutkiewicz is on. Pitman smashes it past the near post and it's a goal kick. Varga is also coming on and Gibson, off go Adomah and Whitehead on 89 minutes.

Five minutes of extra time. MacDonald has got through a lot of work since he has been on says Willo. "Eddie Howe's Barmy Army", we can hear. Boro fans are heading home. Ryan Allsop picks up a yellow, done like a kipper as Elphick kicked the ball away.

Thomas almost steels in but not quite. Cook then challenges Kamara and Kamara ends up in the book and so to does Cook. Elphick holds of Jutkiewicz and puts the ball out. Kamara is in and Allsop tips the header over when it was destined for the top corner. An amazing save!

Cook puts the ball out again, while Allsop has taken a knock. Cherries struggle to clear then Grabban and Thomas is blocked off by Gibson. Grabban is flat on his back. There is a yellow card for Leadbitter for a tackle on Grabban. There is much confusion as the referee stopped play. Boro have the ball but Francis clears. Full Time.

Allsop, Francis, Cook, Elphick (C), Ward, Pugh, Hughes, O'Kane, Rantie, Pitman, Grabban.

Subs: Flahavan, Harte, MacDonald, Thomas, McDermott, McQuoid, Addison
Steel, Friend, Williams, Richardson, Woodgate, Butterfield, Leadbitter, Whitehead, Carayol, Adomah, Kamara

Middlesborough Subs:
Halliday, Hoyte, Varga, Gibson, Leutweiler, Smallwood, Jutkiewitcz.