Sunday, 31 August 2014

Happy where we sit

There won't be that many teams that come away from Carrow Road with a draw or better this season. For that fact AFCB could be more than happy with yesterday's result but in the wider scheme of things the Cherries are not that far off the pace-setters and can go into the international break knowing that they have made a decent start to their second consecutive season in the Championship.

That is not to say that Eddie Howe will not demand more of his troops. The points dropped against Nottingham Forest and Blackburn are games that he will seek to learn from and further challenge the players to see if they can go forward and improve upon those performances. Against Norwich City they have already shown that they can do this and the task is now to recapture a bit of lost ground on the front runners.
Junior Stanislas and Stan Gosling had a good day
against Norwich. Here they are pictured at Huddersfield.
As a whole though, you have to be pleased with the way that the new players have fitted into the team and been a positive force in the side. Junior Stanislas and Callum Wilson have been uppermost in this more attacking emphasis that Howe has created while Dan Gosling is starting to play with more authority. The Norwich game was a good example of Eddie Howe changing things around to meet an opponent with a slightly different set up and it brought its rewards. Yann Kermorgant may well have needed a break but there has been nothing wrong with his play and yet it was felt that a solo striker was the best way to take on the Canaries. A similar set-up might now be used against other powerful teams when AFCB are playing away.

Meanwhile, the Capital One Cup run has been a good campaign and there is much to be pleased about in the introduction of Baily Cargill to the squad. So the international break comes at a good time and gives Eddie a couple of weeks with some of the players to just hone a few more things.

It was also great to hear that the Howe's have a new addition to their family as well.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Cherries hold Canaries to a draw: Norwich 1 v 1 AFCB

Match Description
Norwich City 1 v 1 AFCB
Attendance: 25,814

Most would have expected Yann Kermorgant to be among the 11 to take the field at Carrow Road in a Cherries' shirt but he found himself on the bench with Callum Wilson playing the lone striker, supported by Junior Stanislas and Ryan Fraser. Matt Ritchie also found himself among the subs as Ryan Fraser was ready to make a start. The idea looked to be to flood the midfield paying respect to Norwich City's good season start and to break fast with runners such as Gosling and Arter feeding the wings and Wilson.

Surprisingly Andrew Surman was out of the squad for Norwich, but Lewis Grabban started as expected and he did not take long to remind us all of just what a good striker he is. 

Jason Tindall explains the AFCB line up.

The match started well for AFCB with Hoolahan going in the book after 10 minutes bringing down Wilson. Norwich's tactic looked to be to bring players down however they could with a string of free kicks against them in the first quarter of an hour as AFCB frustrated them with their powerful running and passing. But all too soon AFCB had to defend and they did not do it well enough come the quarter hour mark. Nathan Redmond crossed to Lewis Grabban who headed the Canaries 1-0 up! Not what the first 10 minutes of play had indicated would happen but now the Cherries would really have to be more solid as Norwich would look to build on that lead. 

Grabban was finding a good deal of space in front of the Bournemouth back four and was able to get shots away even if wide. Lafferty as well was getting on the ball now. While Fraser and Francis were winning free kicks, Norwich were clearing their box regularly. AFCB's raids were quickly being closed down outside the Canaries' box. Towards the end of the first half it was Norwich dictating play and going close with Camp having to be wary of Lafferty in particular. But with two minutes of extra time at the end of the first half, Junior Stanislas started a terrific move with Simon Francis and his cross was a tap in for Callum Wilson to make it 1-1 at half time. Some major decision-making was now required by Eddie Howe to see how he could mastermind the best solution for the second half. There had only been five shots each in the first half and AFCB had only had the one on target, but it counted. Just two corners each as well, so quite a tight game with AFCB said to have 60 per cent of the possession.

We all wanted to know if Eddie Howe would keep it tight or gamble by bringing on another striker in the second half. It all would depend on the first 15 minutes of the second period I thought and how edgy that equaliser had made Norwich. Bradley Johnson fired an early warning shot in the second half but Camp was equal to it. Lafferty joined Turner and Hoolihan in the book after taking down Junior Stanislas. Johnston then follows him into the book after a poor challenge on Arter. Come the hour and Matt Ritchie replaced Ryan Fraser as AFCB looked for a lead.

Norwich's passing was starting to go astray and Murphy came on for Laffferty. Gosling and Wilson tried their luck from distance as the Cherries looked for an upset win. Pug was also on now for Stanislas. There are just signs at this point that AFCB are in control and Jerome replaced Redmond to try and regain the home team's upper hand. Simon Francis was the first AFCB player booked with 13 minutes remaining. Norwich were back on top and pressing for the win with Johnson laying especially well.

AFCB were playing on the break with Pugh hitting a shot right at Ruddy. Camp was called into action near the end with a dangerous free kick effort but he kept it out. While it was a tense last 10 minutes neither side could do enough to get the win and AFCB had managed a credible draw 1-1. AFCB stay 11th in the table.

Official Match Tweets from AFCB

01: We are underway at Carrow Road! #afcb line up in the expected 4-5-1, with O'Kane the deepest: #NCFCvAFCB

03: Lewis Grabban, with his back to goal in the #afcb box, finds some space, but his cut back finds no one:

06: Cherries looking bright, getting balls into the box and keeping hold of possession well so far: #NCFCvAFCB

07: A neat back heel by Stanislas finds Gosling in space, but the former #nufc star blasts a long range effort over the bar: #NCFCvAFCB

10: A poor short corner from Grabban is foiled and Wilson breaks away. He's tripped cynically by Hoolahan who goes into the book. #NCFCvAFCB

15: Nathan Redmond finds Grabban unmarked in the box, and the striker heads straight past Camp.#ncfc 1-0 #afcb .

15 Goal to Norwich City. Lewis Grabban finds the net against his old club. #NCFCvAFCB

26: Grabban picks the ball up 25 yards out and shoots from distance, but it goes wide of Camp's post. #NCFCvAFCB

27: Lafferty has a first time effort from distance, but Camp holds well. #ncfc having the lion's share of possession now. #NCFCvAFCB

31: Michael Turner goes into the book for a late tackle on Callum Wilson. The resulting free kick goes straight to Ruddy. #NCFCvAFCB

Cherries need to make the most of the set pieces they are winning here - City have been impressive but have given some silly free kicks away and are struggling with their pace at times.

34: So far they are yet to test Ruddy though. (At this point just 3 shots each and just two on target both from Norwich).

37: Neat play on the edge of the area from City culminates in Lafferty volleying it first time

37: A lovely move from Grabban, Hoolahan & Lafferty ends when the latter fires a half volley over the bar. #NCFCvAFCB

39: Redmond swings one over the wall and Camp has to punch away. Elphick heads clear the corner. #NCFCvAFCB

Fraser tries his luck from 25 yards but it is weak and trickles past the post.

45: There will be a minimum of two minutes added time at Carrow Road. Norwich currently soaking up some #afcb pressure. #NCFCvAFCB


45+1: Brilliant move from #afcb ! Stanislas finds Francis with the through ball and he crosses for Wilson to tuck home. #NCFC 1-1 #AFCB .

Half time at Carrow Road and the Cherries have struck before half time to change the complexion of this fixture. #NCFCvAFCB

46: We are back underway at Carrow Road where it's #NCFC 1-1 #AFCB .

48: Bradley Johnson tries an effort from outside the box but Lee Camp collects well. #NCFCvAFCB

52: Stanislas breaks at pace and Lafferty slides in cynically. Another Canary goes into the book. #NCFCvAFCB

60: Johnson goes into the book for a late tackle on Arter. Ryan Fraser is replaced by Matt Ritchie. #NCFCvAFCB

61: Kyle Lafferty is replaced by Josh Murphy. #NCFCvAFCB

62: Dan Gosling tests John Ruddy in the Norwich goal, but the stopper holds well. #NCFCvAFCB

66: Arter plays a sweet through ball to Wilson in the channel, but the forward's cross-come-shot is just wide of Ruddy's goal. #NCFCvAFCB

67: Marc Pugh replaces Junior Stanislas, who has done well today. #NCFCvAFCB

71: There is a break in play as Simon Francis receives some treatment. Cameron Jerome is on for Nathan Redmond. #NCFCvAFCB

74: Grabban is played through but Cook recovers and blocks his shot. Camp collects. #NCFCvAFCB

75: Another good tackle from Cook disposes Jerome in the penalty area. The Norwich sub has been lively. #NCFCvAFCB

77: Simon Francis goes into the book for a foul on Bradley Johnson. #NCFCvAFCB

80: Ritchie plays in Pugh as the Cherries break, but the winger's half volley is straight at Ruddy. #NCFCvAFCB

85: Five minutes remaining and it's proving to be a tense finish for both sets of supporters. #NCFCvAFCB

87: Ritchie hits one from distance but it's over the bar. The official attendance is 25,814, no away figure yet. #NCFCvAFCB

88: Pugh overlaps Daniels and gets in a cross, but it is deflected just past the toe of Matt Ritchie. #NCFCvAFCB

89: Bradley Johnson's dangerous free kick is on target but Camp tips it over! #NCFCvAFCB

90: There will be a minimum of four minutes added time. #NCFCvAFCB

Camp, Francis, Elphick, Cook, Daniels, O'Kane, Gosling, Stanislas (Pugh 67), Arter, Fraser (Ritchie 60), Wilson

Flahavan, Ritchie, Kermorgant, Harte, Rantie, Smith, Pugh

Norwich City
Ruddy, Whittaker, Garrido, Johnson, Hoolahan, Tettley, Johnson, Lafferty  (Murphy 60), Redmond (Jerome 69), Grabban

Norwich Subs
Cuellar, Jerome, Loza, E Bennett, Murphy, Rudd, O'Neil

Steve Martin

Cherry Chimes talks to Paddy Davitt at the Pink 'Un

Match Preview
Norwich City v AFCB
Blogger Interview: The Pink 'Un

This story was first published on Friday, but because of maintenance on some of the football news websites I have re-posted it so that it can receive a wider audience.

Paddy Davitt writes for the Pink 'Un which is an excellent website and publication for those who follow Norwich City FC. Paddy has agreed to give you Cherries' followers an idea as to how the Canaries have been doing and what you can expect if you visit Carrow Road.

CC: What's behind the name Pink 'Un and how did the site and publication get started?

PU: The site is a dedicated football portal, focusing on Norwich City but also covering local non-league clubs, for the Norfolk-based publisher Archant. We also have two daily newspaper titles and a clutch of weeklies which all have their own digital footprint. The Pink 'Un has been in existence for well over a decade and is regarded as one of the best within the industry for its depth of coverage and interactivity.

CC: Neil Adams said a short while ago that the players will put smiles on fans' faces - do you share his optimism?

PU: The fans certainly do now after three wins on the spin in the Championship, capped by Saturday’s 1-0 East Anglian derby victory at Ipswich. Adams reiterated when he spoke to the media at Portman Road how much that result would have meant to the supporters who had to endure some fairly turgid football during the Premier League era.

CC: Have you had a chance to see much of Lewis Grabban yet and do you feel he is a gamble?

PU: I’ve watched every minute of Norwich’s pre-season and early Championship games in my role as the company’s chief Norwich City football writer. I also had the chance to sit down with Lewis whilst on tour in Italy for a feature interview and everything I have heard and now seen from the lad is very impressive. It’s still early days but four goals in the league indicate Norwich completed an excellent piece of business rather than a gamble. What I also got from speaking to the lad himself is his determination to make the most of what he feels is a great opportunity to kick on again in his career and test himself against the best in the Premier League.

CC: How do you feel the team performed as a whole against Wolves?

PU: Neil Adams’ insisted there had been positives but it was hard to spot them at Molineux. The game arguably turned on Martin Olsson’s red card on the hour mark because Wolves scored the match-winner four minutes later but I think there was a general feeling the intensity and the collective pressing from Wolves was a bit of shock to the system for a team who had been operating in the Premier League, where the build up is generally slower and its about possession football rather than pressure. That said, three wins on the bounce in the league tells you they have learned quickly.

CC: What do you think of the quality of Norwich the squad compared to last season?

PU: They have a better squad this season. The likes of Lewis Grabban and Gary O’Neil know what the Championship is all about. Kyle Lafferty has hit the ground running and they’ve added further experience in Carlos Cuellar and Cameron Jerome. Expect Norwich to still be very active in the remaining days of the window as well. This time around they look to have a squad that covers all the bases.

CC: How difficult was the Blackburn team to play against and did you feel well on top of them?

PU: Blackburn could have been 3-0 in the opening 15 minutes. They scored one, had a decent penalty shout and put a free header wide from eight yards. But after City weathered the storm they took control of territory and possession and they eventually wore down the visitors. It might have taken until the 87th minute to get their noses in front before they added a third deep in stoppage time but they were good value for the victory.

CC: Do you think fans will fill the ground this season or will you expect them to ebb away if you are not challenging for promotion?

PU: No chance. Norwich City’s support must be amongst the most loyal in the country, which for me probably stems from the fact this is a one-club county. The nearest other professional team is Ipswich, 45-odd miles away and that is never going to be a viable alternative! That tends to breed a deep attachment between these fans and their club. Even when they went down to League One for the first time 50 years they were still getting 22,000 plus. They’ve sold that number of season tickets again and Carrow Roadwill be packed in home areas for the entire duration of the campaign.

CC: What is the secret to getting a goal out of Andrew Surman as we could not achieve it for all of last season - and do you think he'll stay at Norwich?

PU: Good question. The lad has been offered a new Norwich City deal and the manager wants him to be part of it moving forward and is a big admirer. The flip side is the lad himself told me during pre-season that after playing such an integral role at Bournemouth on loan he would struggle to go back to being a bit-part player, like he had been under the previous management at Carrow Road. He felt at his age, and he just turned 28 in the last few days, he needs regular football. I think that could go either way over the remainder of the transfer window. As for goals, it is a mystery given his technical ability.

CC: Who do you think will be your best player this season?

PU: Lewis Grabban leads the early running. If he maintains that strike rate Norwich would expect to go close to promotion. Wes Hoolahan is another key man in that creative role just behind the striker. Any successful team will have a strong spine and with John Ruddy, Michael Turner and Russell Martin behind those two City look to have that.

CC: Where do you think Norwich will be in the league after the first 10 games this season?

PU: Top four. They’ve got some momentum going now and if they can keep players fit and free of suspension they will feel they can kick on from an encouraging start.

CC: Who do you think will be the top three teams in the Championship?

PU: In no particular order, Norwich, Cardiff, Wigan.

CC: This match will be billed as a Grabban v Wilson showdown but what other players could spoil AFCB's day?

PU: Said it earlier but if Wes Hoolahan gets on the ball in advanced areas then Bournemouth will have to defend very well. He is the one who sets the attacking tempo and switches the play so intelligently.

CC: Can we have a score prediction please?

PU: Norwich City 2, Bournemouth 1

CC: Some excellent replies from Paddy there and I hope the price does not put off too many AFCB supporters who have been thinking of their first visit to Carrow Road to cheer on the Cherries. I still say AFCB will shock a few teams along the way as they did last season and if they can raise their game after recent performances it just could be an exciting day for those who make the journey up to Norwich. To read more of Paddy's reports on the Canaries just visit the Pink 'Un website. 

Grabban v Wilson - head to head

We knew that there would come a time when Lewis Grabban lined up against the Cherries as soon as he signed for Norwich City in the summer. The first instance has come early in August and Lewis has home advantage at Carrow Road. He has started well with a goal against Watford and a brace against Blackburn Rovers with the obligatory penalty kick of course, and now has four goals having netted against Ipswich in their last league game. By the way, he missed his 23rd minute pen against Blackburn but scored from the rebound - lucky? But he is bound to be compared to AFCB's new signing up front as Callum Wilson has a similar pace and hunger for goals as Lewis.
Is Grabban destined to draw a blank against the Cherries?
While Grabban is now the experienced striker and has earned his place in the Canaries starting line up, he will have to continue that work rate and scoring knack that made him so liked on the south coast. He is also having to deal with the immense pressure of being a striker at a big club and seems to be thriving on it and life in the Championship. Does that make him a better striker than Wilson? Well, at the moment professional pundits would probably say so, as he has had more experience of the Championship, but I would not like to bet who will score more goals this season as it could be a very close affair between the two. From what I have seen of Wilson so far he does not run as often out wide, diagonally to the corners as Lewis did when he was in a Bournemouth shirt. Instead he relies more on his speed to be away on the turn before defenders notice him move. I think this is fine but that he could benefit from playing a bit more in a way that draws other AFCB players into the game. He cannot always be the one who has the finish on goal and Grabban was good at knowing when he could play someone else in when they were better placed to score. I still believe Wilson is adding this to his game and will get there very soon.
Callum Wilson with Marc Pugh.
At present though it is enough that he is looking to score at every opportunity because we have already seen that Yann Kermorgant, Harry Arter and Eunan O'Kane will look for him to get in behind. On his day though I would back Wilson to score when one-on-one with a keeper, like he did at Huddersfield, whereas Grabban was not usually as comfortable with that scenario. What he can do though is pull a goal out from know where with a thunderous strike. I haven't yet seen that from Callum Wilson, but here's hoping Callum can do it against Norwich City and add to his three goal tally for this season in the Championship. 

Finally, we see that Eddie Howe is still looking to strengthen his forward line with Derby's Johnny Russell having apparently made two bids which were turned down for the 24-year-old, former Dundee Utd striker. Whether Russell or another striker comes in, the Cherries are keen on getting a forward in perhaps in case of injuries, but with only a few days to the window closing it is not going to be easy with teams now hoping to keep hold of the squad they have.

Safe travel for those going to the match today. UTCIAD!

Friday, 29 August 2014

Can AFCB knock the Canaries off their perch?

When AFCB line up against a top club they usually manage to play beyond themselves and I am hoping that this is the case when the odds will be stacked against them at Norwich. The East Anglian club might well have started slowly with a defeat against Wolves, but they now sit third in the table and quickly picked up points against Watford, Blackburn Rovers and Ipswich Town, who are all likely to be considered by many to be among the teams that would be in the top 10 come next May.

Yet, Norwich are not unbeatable and while they have some great new signings there are no easy games for them, being one of the clubs that came down last season. A win against them will be like winning a trophy for players of many Championship teams. Even with just over a week to go in this summer transfer window they were adding further players to their large squad. Among recent recruits are Cameron Jerome has joined from Stoke City and Carlos Cuellar who also has been in the Premier League at Sunderland. Leroy Fur has left Norwich for QPR and Pilkington has gone to Cardiff City, but Neil Adams has certainly ensured that the weight of players are in bound and have quality too.
Lewis Grabban is already playing well at Norwich.
Lewis Grabban will catch our attention along with Andrew Surman, AFCB our players will also face the prospect of having to beat John Ruddy in goal, and facing a 20,000 plus crowd at Carrow Road. Strikers that may play along side Grabban include Kyle Lafferty signed from Palermo who is probably best known for his time at Rangers. But it is the experienced campaigners like Wes Hoolahan that have been at the club for several years who will often set the tempo and AFCB's players will need to be well organised to keep a clean sheet.

If AFCB enjoy the day at Carrow Road it will be an amazing day for those supporters who make the trip, but there is no reason why the Cherries can't surprise a few of the bigger teams this season. They should have some anger in their bellies after the Blackburn match and I hope they can use it in the right way to get a result. UTCIAD! 

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Ward's required surgery will stretch the squad

I was sad to hear that Elliott Ward will have to have an operation on his knee following the Exeter Capital One Cup match and is likely to be out of action for two months. Elliott was really only coming back to fitness after he had been recovering from a bash on his knee from running into a hoarding last season, when playing against Leicester City. It means that Baily Cargill is likely to feature more for the Cherries and apparently Ian Harte and Simon Francis have also played in a centre back role before and could act as further cover. One would expect Adam Smith to play as as a full back if necessary as well if Simon Francis moved across to the centre.
Elliott Ward will be out for two months.
All squads have a period when they are a bit stretched and if another injury occurs to a Cherries centre back the team selection will need some careful managing. I doubt that Eddie Howe sees some of the solutions as ideal but in Baily Cargill he has a player who is just getting better every game he plays. Still if Baily has to play with Cook or Elphick it would still be a fairly new partnership and I expect that a lot of work is being done in training to get some better understanding for Baily especially who is likely to have to fill in at some point. 
Cook and Elphick are most likely to start against
Norwich City, but Cargill could also feature.
Elliott Ward, 29, has again been unfortunate and as one of the club's most experienced centre backs I would expect to still see him try and recover as quickly as he can and to be around the team to give advice and support while he is out of the team. Meanwhile, Steve Cook and Tommy Elphick have shown that they are able to keep clean sheets and will be trying again for the Norwich match. Sadly for former Norwich player, Elliott Ward will miss the match he perhaps most wanted to play a part in, although he can use the return fixture (10th Jan 2015) as motivation to recover quickly.

Can Adam Smith compete with Francis long term for a starting place?

I was really pleased with how well Adam Smith took his chance against Nottingham Forest when Simon Francis pulled up in the week with a thigh strain. It is not how Adam would have wanted to earn a starting place in the team but now that he is there he showed the attacking intent that is sure to have caught Eddie Howe's eye. There was more than a couple of occasions when he broke down the right with lightening speed and good control in the Forest match, linking with Matt Ritchie and Yann Kermorgant and getting right to the byline or into the box with shooting chances. 
Smith looks capable of starting more games this season.
At times it looked like Bournemouth had a new signing as we have not seen a great deal of Adam even if he has been playing some of the pre-season games. His shooting is something that he may find earns him more of a chance of playing more regularly if he can start hitting more of those shots into the back of the net. His conversion rate though is not as high as it might be which is one of the edges Francis probably has over him. Another is that Francis has become better at his defensive positioning and is not so often stretched when running back these days. The crosses that Fancis provides are another quality that have made him the favoured number 2. 

So Adam has his work cut out on retaining his place when Francis is fit again, but the versatility of Smith is another factor that I believe is a strong point for him and as the season progresses we may see Adam even play a bit higher up the pitch. I always feel though that if you are playing in the wing back position, while you can get forwards at times you have to be an even better defender as a team needs its wing backs to recover quickly to retain the defensive shape of the back four. If you are a yard or two behind, it is common for a Championship team to punish you. But playing games will help Smith fit in more and I believe he deserves this time as he has many assets which will be beneficial for the Cherries.      

Top man - Marc Pugh

I have tried several times to get an interview with Marc Pugh and I am sure I will succeed one day soon. He has always seemed very content at AFCB and his start to the season has been to almost revitalise his touch and goal scoring prowess to new levels. I am sure a stable and happy family life is very beneficial to him as it is for a number of the Bournemouth players and Marc seems to really get what the club means to the fans and he always puts in a shift.

Pugh has started the new season well.
I believe that the intense competition that is now available to Eddie Howe on the wings has made a difference to Marc Pugh in particular. He has responded with performances that suggest that he wants to play and indeed should play while he is in good form. At Huddersfield I did not see so much of the Pugh and Daniels link up on the left as we are perhaps used to when the two play but there certainly is a growing understanding between Ritchie and Pugh. Marc has started to gamble a little more often to get on the end of crosses and get into the box when Ritchie is busy creating.

The slight injury to Ryan Fraser in pre-season gave Marc the chance to make the left wing position his for the moment, but I don't expect Ryan Fraser is going to be long in putting more pressure for that place very soon. You could see that going the wrong way with some players who could get annoyed at being left out, but it is not evident at AFCB. Eddie Howe has said that the idea is to rotate this season especially in the forward positions and I can see that happening on the wings as well. The hard format of the Championship lends itself to having a squad that is equally talented and Eddie Howe wants a squad that is no weaker when anyone member is not available. The players all seem to thrive on this at the moment and it will be very interesting to see how much rotation there is during the season.

Ryan Fraser played most of the game against Exeter and he will be keen to see if he can get back into the line up for more league matches, having started alongside Pugh in the Northampton Capital One match the other night. Even Pugh though was a sub against Blackburn and missed the Forest game, so it will have been good for fans of the Cherries to sing out a familiar name again during the Northampton match - "Puuuugh!"   

AFCB have drawn Cardiff City away in the Third round of the Capital One Cup on either 23 or 24 September 2014. The full draw can be seen on the TalkSport website.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Norwich game comes at a price

I was noticing some of the comments on the social media devices that were posted once the Norwich City game ticket prices were announced on AFCB's website. Adult prices were set at £30 and I doubt whether there will be a more expensive day out for AFCB fans this season. We will have to see what they will charge at the Cottage and at Cardiff City, but all these clubs have some Premier League players still at their clubs and they are going to charge you to see them as the wages are going to be a problem even with the parachute payments I expect.
Hopefully Grabbs will not see too much of the ball when
 he meets up with his former team mates at Carrow Road.
This is particularly clear at Norwich where they have been buying a lot of new players ahead of the new season including our own Lewis Grabban, while Andrew Surman is also back at the East Anglian club. As fans though who want to see as many games as we can there will be many who have circled this particular game as a must see as two of our former players are now at the Canaries and they are probably seen as one of the favourites to get promoted. Norwich will have a pretty full home crowd you would think for most of their games and it may not matter to them much how many away fans they attract as a smaller number gives them an even bigger advantage on the pitch in terms of vocal support. But we have seen even a small away crowd can have a good day out in the Championship.
Andrew Surman will also be trying his best to slow
the Cherries down. It's going to be one of AFCB's toughest
games this season.
Whether our fans will be keen to make the trip is yet to be seen. I am actually away at the end of August and this will be one of those games that I can't go to even though I would have liked to have gone. But with two over 12s as well a price of £60 would probably have put me off any way. The away trip to Blackburn Rovers seems better value to many.  I think Championship clubs just like the Premier League do have to be mindful of what fans will willingly pay and while overall numbers for football viewing were said to be up last season when it is a particularly hard financial year we all have to make financial choices. Budgeting your games to watch in the Championship is becoming a bit of a preoccupation and I hope that the Cherries are also mindful of the price that they have asked for this season and what will be a fair price next season when it seems likely that a new stand will be built and the club tries to attract some more supporters. It is a balancing act and perhaps Norwich have priced themselves out for a few supporters this time around.  

The point about increasing prices in the Premier League and Football Leagues was protested on Thursday 16th August with a march in London organised by The Football Supporters Federation, and perhaps we are getting closer to the point when fans simply have to make a choice most weekend whether they stay at home or can afford to support their team.

Carlton Cole: would he have been a hit on the south coast?

I have been watching all the talk about Carlton Cole possibly coming to AFCB having started talks yesterday on a possible move from West Ham. While the striker has had a mixed career at the Hammers he has played many top flight games and he would be a big addition to a team like the Cherries who need that extra killer instinct at times during tight Championship games. One Hammer's blog though was saying that the deal was off last night and that was endorsed by TalkSport.

While I can see why Eddie Howe would be interested in having Carlton Cole leading the line for the Cherries. AT 6ft 3in he is a bit of a different striker to what AFCB already have. Some movement of other players would ave been required, if Callum Wilson was seen as the player who can be released from the hold up play of Cole. Eddie Howe would have had to look to play Yann Kermorgant in the number 10 position if he were to keep three strikers on the field in a starting line up. The heading ability of Cole would be something that could bring many more goals for AFCB and with the extra striker Eddie Howe would have many  more options for different opponents. The asking fee seemed to be £1m and I don't think that was a bad price for a striker with Cole's experience, but if it is not to happen the Cherries are still showing that they have the ability to move for players quickly when they fit the profile that Howe wants.    

The question I wondered was whether Carlton Cole had the ambition and fight for the Championship and could he start scoring straight away anyway? He had scored seven times in 28 appearances for the Hammers last year and probably believes he is good enough to merit a move to another Premier League club. This would have been a big name signing for AFCB, but whether Cole or Sam Allardyce changed their mind it looks like the move has broken down.

What we can say is that it seems that Eddie Howe feels that the team has to have more fire power in front of goal if it is to make the step up to the next tier and there are a few days left in the transfer window if he still wants to sign another striker.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Cherries' Capital One run goes on after beating Northampton 3-0

The Cherries needed a win in  the Capital One Cup to get some momentum back in their Championship challenge. The side that Eddie Howe picked was not taking the competition lightly as many of the players were used to be first team starters. It was a slight concern to me that Elliot Ward was still not in contention for a place and Simon Francis was also not among the squad. Home fans would see Rantie and Pugh working up front together though and Gosling made his full home debut along with Baily Cargill. It was clever that Eddie also started with Cook, perhaps to get his confidence back up after the Blackburn game. On social media there were a few comments of ticket queues at the stadium while the game kicked off.

AFCB started well with Eunan O'Kane central to much of the good early work and the Cherries got their reward when Dan Gosling fired them 1-0 up on 21 minutes. The lead was soon doubled on the half hour mark by Brett Pitman who rounded the Cobblers' keeper. The second half saw more pressure from the Cherries and while Pitman took a heavy challenge he carried on. Ritchie and Wilson got some minutes as the Cherries tightened up for the last 20 minutes. It was Callum Wilson who extended the goal tally making it 3-0 with 11 minutes to go.

AFCB Offical Match Tweets

The teams are out at the Goldsands Stadium. Can #afcb book their place in the @CapitalOne_Cup 3rd round with victory over #ntfc? #AFCBvNTFC01: The game is underway here. #AFCBvNTFC #afcb

01: Early chance for #afcb as @marcpugh7 breaks free on the left but shoots wide of Archer's goal. #AFCBvNTFC

05: @eunan10 drills in a shot from the edge of the area but it goes narrowly wide. #AFCBvNTFC

07: Off the bar! O'Kane's thunderous shot from the edge of the area cannons off the crossbar: #AFCBvNTFC #afcb

09: Collins comes close for #ntfc but he can't direct his free header goalwards. Lively start here: #AFCBvNTFC

12: Rantie weaves his way around the #ntfc defence but his eventual shot trickles wide. #AFCBvNTFC

13: Cook is the latest #afcb player to come close - he heads Harte's corner over. Chances aplenty here: #AFCBvNTFC

21: Smith pulls the ball back for Gosling & he keeps his cool to slot it beyond Archer. 1-0 to #afcb #AFCBVNTFC

30: Pitman is put through one on one and cooly rounds the 'keeper, before slotting home. 2-0 to #afcb. #AFCBvNTFC
35: Mohamed fires the ball over the bar from the edge of the area. A rare chance for the visitors. #AFCBvNTFC

40: Pitman meets Smith's cross, but he is well marked by the #ntfc defence and heads wide. #AFCBvNTFC

45: There will be two minutes of additional time played here. #AFCBvNTFC

Half time: #afcb 2-0 #ntfc. Goals from Gosling and Pitman ensure the Cherries lead at the break. #AFCBvNTFC

Second half

46: The second half kicks off. #afcb are kicking towards the Aerial Direct @SteveFletcher33 North Stand. #AFCBvNTFC

49: It's a yellow card for #ntfc's Collins for a nasty looking foul on Pitman: #AFCBvNTFC

50: The #afcb striker receives treatment from physio Steve Hard and looks ok to continue.

52: Fraser sends in a cheeky chip from the edge of the area, but Archer backtracks & it's an easy catch for him. #AFCBvNTFC

56: Rantie's quick feet deceive #ntfc & he forces Archer to save with his feet at the near post. #AFCBvNTFC

Tonight's attendance is 5,250 which includes 332 #ntfc supporters. #AFCBvNTFC
65: Fraser is caught late by Diamond, with the referee awarding #afcb a free-kick in a dangerous position. #AFCBvNTFC

65: Pitman's free-kick rebounds back off the wall. #afcb still lead #ntfc 2-0 here. #AFCBvNTFC

70: Rantie receives treatment before being replaced by Wilson, whilst Pugh also makes way for Ritchie. #AFCBvNTFC

72: Archer reacts quickly to push Wilson's close-range shot away, before Pitman blasts the follow-up over. #AFCBvNTFC

75: Fraser plays a neat one-two with Wilson before unleashing a shot which goes wide of Archer's goal.

79: Archer parries Gosling's effort away from goal, but it's straight at Wilson who heads home from close range. 3-0 to #afcb. #AFCBvNTFC

82: Final substitution for #afcb as Pitman is replaced by Stanislas. #AFCBvNTFC

Full time: #afcb 3-0 #ntfc. Goals from Gosling, Pitman and Wilson ensure #afcb are into the third round. #AFCBvNTFC

Camp, Smith, Cook, Cargill, Harte, Fraser, O'Kane, Gosling, Pugh, Pitman, Rantie

AFCB Subs:
Flahavan, Kermorgant, Wilson, Ritchie, Daniels, Stanislas, Elphick

Callum Wilson is a live wire

It did not perhaps need a genius to see that Callum Wilson is a player that would fit into many teams in the Championship with an ability to unleash a goal rush in terms of fire power if he was given the right kind of supply. AFCB have luckily landed his talent and it was fascinating to see him going about his work at Huddersfield and against Brentford and Nottingham Forest.

Callum Wilson has started his AFCB career in great style.
Any defence that plays a high-line against Callum will find that he has pace to burn and unless you have electric centre backs he will get in on goal at some point during the 90 minutes. Every time you saw Arter, O'Kane and Francis look up at Huddersfield it was more often or not to see whether Callum was on the last man's shoulder and ready to be released. The second half of that game saw Callum become even more of a threat in my opinion as he had tired the Huddersfield defenders out and was able to find gaps almost at will. It may become a bit predictable just to lob a ball over the top or around the corner for Wilson to run on to but there will be a lot of that this season. He appears more direct than Lewis Grabban and his appetite or goals was clearly shown in that he wanted the penalty having already scored two goals.
Callum already has his sight on being the Championship's top goalscorer.
If this is how good Callum is now he can only look to be the top Championship goalscorer and if he achieves that he will be another player that the Cherries will have to try and keep on to, but that would be easier if they can get promotion of course. While that dream is a long way away, the players have certainly set out to cause other teams lots of problems with their attacking play and if that means less defensive problems for the Cherries then all bodes well for a good season.

Tonight AFCB play Northampton Town in the Capital One Cup Second Round, so hopefully if Callum plays he can get on the score sheet and help the Cherries to a much needed win at the moment. With Brett Pitman and Callum Wilson playing last weekend though, I fancy Tokelo Rantie to be the main striker tonight.

Monday, 25 August 2014

What is happening with AFCB corners?

It may not take you by that much of a surprise to hear that the Cherries managed to stack up 17 corners against Nottingham Forest in their recent match with only two corners gained by the visitors in the whole 90 minutes. Still it is quite an incredible stat and it does ask the question what are Bournemouth doing wrong when it comes to corners, because they aren't scoring from the at the moment (I say this before the Blackburn game not know how that went).
Ritchie needs to start delivering some great corners.
Against Forest it was junior Stanislas and Matt Ritchie who took the majority of those corners, while Pugh and Fraser will also have contributed on occasion. We saw quite a variety of short corners, far post and penalty spot crosses but the likes of Tommy Elphick, Steve Cook and Yann Kermorgant could not get the kind of header in at goal that they would have liked to. Cook probably came the closest but was never close enough to trouble Karl Darlow in the Forest goal.  

So what are the Cherries missing? There is one very obvious thing. It is the kind of accurate delivery that we saw so well towards the second part of last season. But the player who made a lot of those crosses from the corner areas was Ian Harte and he is currently on the bench. It is a trade off for Eddie Howe whether he picks Ian Harte or Charlie Daniels as they both defend tenaciously and offer different things in the opposition's half. So far I have not seen Daniels at the kind of level that I know he can produce but whether that is getting back to play match after match or something else I am not sure. But I do hope that if Ian Harte is still making the difference with deliveries in training that Eddie considers him for some games as he could just be the missing ingredient to converting some of those ideal positions to score from corners. 

Subs will play crucial role for Cherries this season

We have seen that Ryan Fraser and Junior Stanislas changed the outcome of the Brentford game by coming on in the second half to make the winner. It is likely that the Cherries will need many more such second half contributions from players coming off of the bench if they are to be successful. It is becoming a headache though to work out who should be on the bench as the fire power at the club is getting stronger and the options are many.
Junior Stanislas is already making an impact.
I did hear some supporters say well what if Yann Kermorgant was to get injured? Indeed, that would not be a good thing for the way AFCB play through him but Eddie Howe has players like Ritchie and Stanislas who can play just behind Wilson and when a player does get injured it will free up the bench for some new faces. I don't see there being any positions now where the team has not got a ready-made replacement who could come on and do a good job. There will be players that will become used to sitting on the sidelines though if Eddie can't see a way to rotate as much as he would like. For the moment I believe places are very much up for grabs and a good training session could often swing it for one player or another.

Eddie demands a performance every game and if any one is not up to it they will soon find themselves out of the team. Making way for someone else though is never easy and yet I can see AFCB using more players this season than last as there is less need to use the same 11 to start every game now that the quality of the squad has been improved. That also means that those coming off the bench have also much to offer in a red and black shirt and we could well see more impact from subs that can score this season than before. 

Good luck to Josh Wakefield at Torquay Utd on a one month loan.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Making home advantage count

As I was unable to give you a full match report on the Blackburn game you may have worked out that I am away on my hols for a while, but I'll keep putting up stories as best I can. You may find I am in more reflective mood than usual.

AFCB will aim to make Dean Court a very hard place for any team to come to this season. Making the home advantage count though will need everyone to play their part. While Eddie Howe was pleased with the first home crowd against Brentford I thought we did go quiet for spells of the game, but the last 10 minutes of crowd support were certainly instrumental in helping the team get the win. The 10,000 plus crowd was slightly expectant of a win and those voices needed to sing loud to get the team over the line. The crowd support was on a different level though for the Forest game when we all knew AFCB needed our full support, but it was unlucky that that was not enough lift the team to a win. 
The new pitch at dean Court looked absolutely amazing
for the first game. An excellent job by all those involved
in preparing the new pitch.
Much of the advantages for Bournemouth playing at home though can clearly be seen. The pitch looks immaculate and better then my front room carpet, while even the edges of the pitch now have a synthetic matting to help Steve Cook get up some pace for his long range throws. I have to wonder with Kris Temple whether the pitch is slightly narrower this season even if Eddie Howe is keen to say it is "an optical illusion," slightly tongue in cheek.

What I did find was that AFCB did not find as much space as perhaps they would have liked in the match against Brentford. Looking back at that game, it was the wingers that decided the game the decisive run from Fraser was to threaten to come inside the full back rather than keep the width and I wonder if Bournemouth's play did not see as many crosses might have been possible. Certainly when Kermorgant went up for a header in the second half of that game and brought a challenge from Button the ball that fell to Wilson could of ended up being the first goal, but how many times had we seen high balls into Kermorgant during the 90 minutes? I would venture that it was no more than three of four times, but such a ball also led to Pugh's goal in the first game against Huddersfield when the ball went over Kermorgant's leap.

Kermorgant has such great heading ability that it
would be great to see more crosses for him at home.
So while AFCB used their wingers to good effect at home in the end I am hoping to see more crosses that Kermorgant can feed off of in the box. It's important that AFCB vary its attacks but when Callum's Wilson's pace was not bringing rewards a change in attacking play with delivery from wide areas to Kermorgant in the air is something that Eddie Howe knows works well. 

Late goals not enough for Cherries against Blackburn: 3-2

Blackburn Rovers v AFCB
23 August 2014
Attendance: 13,900

I believe Simon Francis travelled with the squad up to Blackburn but was not part of the squad so Adam Smith again slotted in at right back. Junior Stanislas also won a place in the starting line up on the left wing while Pugh was still absent. Brett Pitman did make it back on to the subs line up though and it as a pretty strong line up to face Rovers.

From what I can tell of match reports AFCB did not get of to a great start and to be 3-0 down in under half an hour it was always asking a lot to get anything from Ewood Park. But with the introduction of Fraser, Rantie and Pitman the Cherries did well to pull back two goals in the last few minutes of the game and to give the hosts a nervy end to the game. Pitman scored a penalty on 81 minutes and Steve Cook scored his first goal of the season on 90 minutes, but the Cherries still went down 3-2 from first half goals from Rhodes, Hanley and Gestede.

AFCB now drop down to 11th in the table, two points outside the play offs and have another hard away game to come at Norwich where they will aim not give themselves such a big deficit to pull back by half time.

AFCB official match tweets:

Here they are! The two teams are out here at Ewood Park and we are minutes away from kick-off. Do we have any score predictions? #BRFCvAFCB

01: We're underway at Ewood Park, where the Cherries begin proceedings shooting away from the traveling fans. #BRFCvAFCB

03: Early chance for #afcb as Stanislas shoots from the edge of the area. Robinson spills, but claims before Wilson can pounce. #BRFCvAFCB

09: First sight of goal for #brfc. Olsson rifles in a shot from the corner of the area & Camp parries away #BRFCvAFCB

13: Cook is caught in possession by the byline, and Rhodes keeps his cool to slot the ball beyond Camp. #BRFCvAFCB

19: Stanislas retreives Wilson's under-hit pass on the edge of the area, but shoots straight at Robinson. #BRFCvAFCB

21: Hanley heads beyond Camp from Cairney's corner to double #brfc's lead. #afcb now trail 2-0. #BRFCvAFCB

24: Conway's long-range effort is deflected off Gustede to wrong-foot Camp. #brfc 3-0 #afcb. #BRFCvAFCB

26: Ritchie tries his luck from inside the area, but his looping shot fails to trouble Robinson. #BRFCvAFCB

27: It's almost four as Gustede almost meets Conway's cross from the right. It goes wide - just. #BRFCvAFCB

28: Olsson cuts the ball back to Rhodes, but his left-footed shot cannons off the far post. #BRFCvAFCB

39: Marshall's shot from the edge of the area is palmed away by Camp. #brfc look dangerous going forward. #BRFCvAFCB

41: Cook is booked for a foul on Gustede on the edge of the area. The resultant free-kick comes to nothing #BRFCvAFCB

Half time at Ewood Park: #brfc 3-0 #afcb. #BRFCvAFCB

46: The second half is underway, and it is confirmed - Fraser replaces Ritchie for #afcb. #BRFCvAFCB

46: Fraser almost immediately has an impact as his cross towards Kermorgant in the area is headed away. #BRFCvAFCB

48: Close for #brfc. Marshall's cross from the left is inches away from being met by Evans in the middle. #BRFCvAFCB

50: Stanislas' free kick cannons off the wall, before Kermorgant's follow-up shot is tipped over. #BRFCvAFCB

53: Better! Wilson forces Robinson into a smart save at the near post. #BRFCvAFCB #afcb

55: Wilson has an effort from a similar position. Robinson parries & quickly gathers the follow-up. #BRFCvAFCB

64: Second substitution for #afcb as Kermorgant is replaced by Rantie. #BRFCvAFCB

65: Left-back Olsson bursts forward before firing his shot into the side netting. Still #brfc 3-0 #afcb. #BRFCvAFCB

67: Substitute King's shot deflects off Elphick, before Baptiste heads over from the resultant corner. #BRFCvAFCB

69: Rhodes fires over from the corner of the area, under the tight surveillance of captain Elphick. #BRFCvAFCB
74: Final substitution for #afcb as Pitman replaces Stanislas.

79: Pitman smashes the ball into the top corner from the spot, after Smith was tripped in the box. #brfc 3-1 #afcb. #BRFCvAFCB
86: Arter shoots from 25 yards out, but it goes way over Robinsons goal. Still #brfc 3-1 #afcb. #BRFCvAFCB

88: Cook rises highest to convert Daniels' corner. Now just one more... #brfc 3-2 #afcb #BRFCvAFCB

Full time: #brfc 3-2 #afcb. #BRFCvAFCB

Camp, Smith, Daniels, O'Kane, Elphick, Cook, Ritchie, Arter, Wilson, Kermorgant, Stanislas

Gosling, Rantie, Pitman, Harte, Fraser, Flahavan, Cargill

Blackburn Rovers
Robinson, Lowe, Olsson, Crainey, Hanley, Baptiste, Marshall, Evans, Gestede, Rhodes, Conway

Blackburn Subs
Henley, King, Eunn,, Eastwood, Varney, Williamson, Taylor.