Friday, 31 October 2014

Olay! Olay! Olay! - Eunan O'Kane can push on now

Part of the pleasing aspect of the Capital One Cup win against WBA was certainly the performance of Eunan O'Kane. Having scored the first goal, he was a shoe-in for man of the match and I have no problem with that. It is important though that Eunan builds on his 90 minutes by pushing for a permanent place back in the team.
Eunan O'Kane opened his goal account with an assured finish against WBA.
Even with getting his opportunity in mid-week, there is no room for all of the midfielders to get into the team, and Eunan has been quite critical of himself this season in knowing that he can reach another level in his performances. His goal though on Tuesday night certainly meant a lot to him. It was his first of the season and when we saw him run though after Junior Stanislas' excellent build up play with Yann Kermorgant, you just could not see Eunan missing. If you watch the game again, West Brom were basically overloaded by Bournemouth on their right side with Fraser in close attendance and the running power of O'Kane was great too see with him getting up in support.

I thought Dan Gosling and Eunan O'Kane did exceptionally well in midfield and did not allow Mulumbo and Blanco much space and in possession AFCB's players pushed the ball around with plenty of purpose, looking for Rantie on the turn. While Arter and Surman appear to be Eddie's first choice at present, I expect that Eunan will be hoping to add to his game time and goal tally now. Perhaps he will be in the squad to face Brighton.
Eunan is running into form.
Tomorrow Cherry Chimes will release its November Newsletter. A historic month for the Cherries, you can catch up on last month's big stories on the blog and read the special newsletter story - Are the Cherries destined for Cup success?

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Cherries go into Brighton derby as favourites

AFCB keep surprising teams and they now come into the local match against Brighton as favourites on recent form. Fourth from the top of the Championship, the Cherries are in good shape as the Sky TV cameras come to town and while they might not be able to emulate the scoreline of last weekend they certainly won't be holding back.
Brighton players really need the points so I am expecting a very tricky match.
Meanwhile, it has not been the easiest of times for Sami Hyypia at Brighton who sit four places off the bottom as they come into this match. It is simply not where you would expect Brighton, one of last season's play-off teams to be. They have lost a few players though like Leonardo Ulloa, Andrea Orlandi, Thomaz Kuszczak and Will Buckley, but the new signings haven't had the impact that Hyypia would have wished for.

Brighton have become the draw specialists picking up six points from their last seven games. they aren't getting beaten that often, but the wins just aren't coming for them. What is worse is that they have been in winning positions against Rotherham and Cardiff and did not hold on. Their goal average is also down at 0.93 per game and they are struggle to hit the back of the net. Lewis Dunk is their highest goalscorer on four in the league and one in the League Cup. 

So what can we expect against the Cherries. Well Sami Hyypia has asked his team to show more character. They have been struggling to play two good halves in matches, but they have some good players. I do like the marauding play of Rohan Ince in midfield and Greer and Caldoron will always battle for everything at the back. Hyppia has brought in ex-Barnsley striker Chris O'Grady, while Kazenga Lua Lua and Craig Mackail-Smith have been more out that in the team. Sam Baldock has been relied on up front but just has not been scoring enough.

Meanwhile, AFCB come into the game knowing that a win could take them back to the top of the Championship after an impressive month of wins. The Cherries are going to take some stopping and I don't believe that the Seagulls will be able to fly out of Dean Court with any points.

Brighton Away Form:

AFCB Home Form:

Tomorrow Cherry Chimes will release its November Newsletter. A historic month for the Cherries, you can catch up on last month's big stories on the blog and read the special newsletter story - Are the Cherries destined for Cup success?

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Happy Hyypia? - I don't think so

Since Sami Hyypia has taken over at Brighton he has not been able to find the free scoring style that served them so well in the last few seasons when Gus Poyet and Oscar Garcia.were manager of the Seagulls. It is still early days though and Brighton & Hove Albion are not renowned for a club that parts with their manager on a regular basis, and I hope he turns things around after playing AFCB of course.

Sami has a brilliant football CV having won most things as a player, and at Bayer Leverkusen he showed that he could successfully coach a team that was not only a big player in the Bundesliga, but also a Champions League club. So why have things not taken off quickly at Brighton for him since joining in June? It's hard to pin-point for me as he still has some experienced players at the club. 
Team performances and the system employed with wing backs pressing forward have been questioned, but Hyypia sounds like he is coping with the worries of the fans. Their difficulty, like so many teams, is in giving away the first goal and a more settled side is something though that Hyypia probably needs. 

If Craig Mackail-Smith can show he is still the player he was before his long time out he has a goalscorer that can be one of the lead strikers in the Championship. He has just had a hamstring injury, but was on the bench for the Spurs game and got a few minutes. Kazenga Lua Lua has just finished his suspension, following his red card against Huddersfield and will be available for selection and also took part in the Tottenham match. Paddy McCourt also played mid-week who has been highlighted as a player that offers Brighton lots of potential going forwards.

Alan Mullery has been patient with the results and Hyypia's need for time. But Hyypia has said he may have to bring in more players in the January window which would make me worry about why more can't be got out of their current squad? Despite all his league problems though, Brighton have had a good run in the Capital One Cup and they have only had three league defeats in their last 10. Brentford, Ipswich and Middlesbrough inflicted those defeats who are all doing pretty well.  Brighton is not a club in crisis, but just a club that is getting too many draws and simply can't quite get a win. It has not quite clicked yet, but Hyypia will know that a south coast game against high-flying Bournemouth is a match to look forward too, not to hide from.

AFCB have to be at their very best to win this rival south coast match.

Tomorrow Cherry Chimes will release its November Newsletter. A historic month for the Cherries, you can catch up on last month's big stories on the blog and read the special newsletter story - Are the Cherries destined for Cup success?

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Thursday, 30 October 2014

Yann needed the West Brom game

The comeback of Yann Kermorgant was not as magnificent as some of us might have expected. A striker can't score every game, although Callum Wilson is trying to disprove that at the moment. The match against WBA was crucial though for Yann who looked to me like he needed to get some running in his legs. He last 88 minutes and will have benefited from stretching out at Dean Court again, but I still expect Pitman and Wilson to continue their partnership at the start of the Brighton match. 
Yann is in contention for selection again.

What we perhaps did not see was quite as many shots from Yann as he can deliver when his game is really on song. I thought he held the ball up well and took the battle to the West Brom defenders which certainly helped Rantie. It is hard though to come back in such a match where you know that it is going to be a heavy physical contest from Yann's point of view against Dawson and McAuley.

I do hope that Yann is able to get some minutes against Brighton as he is perhaps the striker who is playing catch up a little with Pitman and Wilson. The sharpness only comes with playing and Yann is a great asset for the team when he is holding the ball up and I don't think we have another striker who does it as well. It's the all round game of Yann that marks him out as a special player for me and the goals are something that seem to come in bursts for him. I do wonder what the Birmingham score might have been if Yann had been on the pitch to feed off those lofted crosses that Francis was delivering so well for Pugh.

If the Cherries can get Yann firing a few more shots, I would expect Yann to start picking off some of those who have stolen a bit of a march for him of late in the goal stats.

Pleasingly, no extra time was required against WBA and Eddie Howe will have most of the squad to pick from for the Brighton match. The opposition have also had one less day to prepare for Saturday's game having lost narrowly to Spurs last night in the Capital One Cup.

Ritchie finally has the monkey off his back

Like all AFCB fans I was pleased to see Matt Ritchie get his first goal of the season at Birmingham. I still don't expect it will prevent Sky from showing endless replays of his free kick against Brighton last season ahead of this year's fixture at Dean Court. It's been quite a year for the Cherries' winger and he can now concentrate on just playing his game now that he has get off the mark for this season.
Is Matt going to come up with another special goal for the cameras?
None of the other team members celebrate a goal quite like Matt Ritchie. I am not sure if he knows what he is doing but he has such joy in netting that it is a hard task for anyone to catch up with him after he has scored. I can't say that he has missed lots of chances this campaign. Some of his spectacular long range shots simply have been kept out most of the time by some good keeping. But it is important that Matt has scored and feels that he has contributed to the team's performance.

I do believe the way that Simon Francis has been pushing up has meant that Matt does not always join in quite as many attacks as he might otherwise. It is often Matt that sends the pass through to start off Simon's run along the right wing and that can leave Matt back in midfield when the attack is going ahead at fast pace. Matt has been very involved in the corner taking though and with so many short corners being taken it is likely that he might up his score rate from getting some success in such set pieces. On free kick duty there is any number of players that AFCB can rely on though. If Yann Kermorgant comes back into the team he seems to get first option, while Pitman and Harte are also specialists when it comes to dead ball situations. 

Knowing Matt though, I think the other players will find it hard to keep him off the ball now. He has tasted success and a confident player likes to put the ball in the back of the net again and again, once he has broken his duck. I'd back Matt to be featuring on a few more Sky replays in the next few days. Look out Brighton!

Kop that! - Liverpool again for Cherries

Out of all the possible ties that the Cherries could have got, there was not a lot of talk pre-draw for the 5th round of the Capital One Cup with expectations of getting Liverpool at home again. It will be another fabulous occasions for Bournemouth fans and this time Eddie Howe's side can legitimately feel that they have a real chance of causing an upset against one of the country's top sides. 
Shall we make this a regular fixture?
It will of course be great for us to hear Brendan Rodgers again, who was so praiseworthy of the style of play and bravery of our Cherries when they took on Liverpool in the FA Cup last season. It will be another chance to see Steven Gerrard, Steven Henderson, Raheem Sterling, Daniel Sturridge and of course we may see Ricky Lambert, Adam Lallana and Super Mario (Balotelli). It is more than likely that the full first Liverpool team could be used in this game if the reds are hoping to land the silverware, but they have Man Utd at home the Sunday before and Arsenal at home on the following Sunday! Still, it is a great pre-Christmas present for AFCB fans and the ground should be packed for this one.
No Suarez this time but there will be plenty of other
top Liverpool players to see AFCB go up against. 
Liverpool have been a bit indifferent in terms of form this season but they are still in the top eight and only two points off fourth spot in the Premier League. The fact that they have been letting in a few goals with some problems at the back surely gives Eddie Howe's team a chance of a shock. All the cameras will be on Balotelli and the pressure will be all on Liverpool and I think it is helpful in some ways that Bournemouth have drawn Liverpool as they will have a bit of a familiar style for our team to be up against and should not be feared, but respected.

Welcome back Liverpool fans.
I don't think it will be long this morning before some of my friends are giving me a call to ask if I can get them a ticket. With more Bournemouth season ticket holders now than last season it is clear that less spare tickets will be available for this match and that may be a good thing considering that the club had a difficult time in finding an easy way to sell the extra tickets last time with such huge demand. Somehow I think these tickets will be like gold dust.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

There's magic in the air down at Dean Court

You can sense that AFCB have a special group of players at the club now. You don't just go and beat a class outfit like WBA a few days after amassing a tremendous goal haul against another Championship team, and reach the last eight of the Capital One Cup without causing a bit of a stir. The national media have been keen to get in on the act of trying to work out what is happening down on the south coast? They know that Eddie Howe has unearthed some gems and the worrying thing for other teams in the Championship is that this team is no longer just 11 excellent players, but any of the squad of players that Eddie cares to select. 
Steve Cook and Andrew Surman perhaps checking
out who else was going through last night.
Looking back at last night's game, none of the players on the pitch against the elite of WBA looked out of place and no quarter was given during the whole match. The cup tie was exactly that with much end-to-end action, but the best team won in what was a hard fought game. West Brom did have more shots (13), but only had three on target, whereas Bournemouth rattled WBA with eight shots and four on target. That may make the game seem tighter than it was, because AFCB held most of the possession - 53 per cent - and looked the more threatening to me.

The home crowd were terrific all evening and the "Allez, Allez, Oh __ AFCB!" song has gained a few more lines and swept round the ground with pleasing effect. I stopped at one point just to watch the faces of fans as they watched this intense game. Our fans are no longer looking worried when the ball is in our half, and when our wingers have the ball the crowd now expect something to happen. I can only imagine it must be great as an AFCB player to feel that enthusiasm on your back at the moment.

Eddie Howe is still the man in charge of what is happening though. Right from the work ethic of the players to asking the crowd to pick the team up whenever it is down, and even clapping the players off rather than want to take the applause himself. He'll enjoy the moment I am sure - just as I am still smiling while typing this up at 2am in the morning after the drive back! 

It's back to business this weekend and another hard match against Brighton with TV cameras looking on, but allow yourself a moment to look back on the past five games and think for a moment about all those 'Wins'. Things are changing around Dean Court and very much for the better. Now who do you want in the next round?

Give me some answers in the comment section below and we'll see what the most popular answer is.

Fright night for Albion as Cherries enjoy historic 2-1 cup win

Match Report
AFCB 2 v 1 WBA
Captial One Cup 4th Round
28 October 2014
Attendance: 11, 296
AFCB and WBA walk on to the pitch.
AFCB make history for the second time in a week! After racking up their record league win they have now progressed further in the League Cup (Capital One) than ever before and can look forward to a fifth round tie. More than that they have beaten a Premier League team to get there. Don't mind that Albion did not play all their best players or that they could only bring three big names on during the match, AFCB's players were worthy winners and even a late scare was not enough to frighten Eddie Howe's players who spooked their way past a powerful WBA team.
Team photo for AFCB.
The captains in the middle.
Check out the Match Day Gallery for more pictures of the night.

Eddie Howe made 10 changes to the team that won 0-8 at Birmingham at the weekend with only captain Tommy Elphick surviving the axe. Some home fans may have wondered how well some of the Bournemouth players who had been picked would do against a WBA team that had also put in plenty of replacements from their first team, but the AFCB squad is probably stronger now than it has ever been as this match demonstrated.

Their was a recall for Yann Kermorgant after his three match ban had been served and he had the first shot of the night forcing Myhill into action after just a minute. WBA also tried for an early goal with Victor Anichebe linking up with Sebastian Blanco, who saw the flag thankfully go up for offside!

Baily Cargill saw his first pass go straight out of play but he soon settled well. Elphick too was involved early, heading clear and as Ian Harte tried to get Rantie away the first yellow card came the way of Albion's Craig Dawson on eight minutes. Ref's aren't too keen on strangle holds! 

AFCB perhaps could have taken the lead on 11 minutes when Adam Smith raced into the box and after beating some players chose to cross to Yann, when he might have scored himself. Yann's shot was blocked though.

West Brom had not come to sit back though and a headed chance for Liam O'Neil was just glanced wide. WBA fans tried to pick fun at the home crowds calls for an early handball by Dawson, but they were even more pleased to see Eunan O'Kane was yellow carded for pulling back O'Neil on 15 minutes. While the free kick was headed out, Yousesouf Mulumbu returned a shot from fully 25 yards with some interest, luckily Camp saved well. Albion had another chance soon after but Mulumbu hit a weak shot that Camp could gather easily.

While Rantie was getting caught offside a couple of times in the first 20 minutes, he was busy causing trouble and put in a devilish cross that was crying out to be finished, while Eunan O'Kane then put a great ball through to the South African who was cleanly tackled at the last moment by Gareth McAuley.

Ian Harte was next in the book for a foul on Mulumbu, who Ian insisted had dived by his hand gestures. Blanco fired the free kick well over! AFCB replied with a good cross from Junior Stanislas and Rantie did his best to try and get on top of the cross, but headed energtically wide. With half an hour gone the Cherries had done well, but Camp had to make a great save against Brown Ideye on 34 minutes.

Cristan Gamboa was pacey down Bournemouth's left and while he won a corner, AFCB's break away saw Rantie charging down the field, only to be cynically fouled by Mulumbu who went into the book in 39 minutes. Chris Baird made an uncharacteristic mistake with a back pass the Rantie almost collected, but he got away with it. While WBA tried a long ball to Ideye next, Camp was alert to it. AFCB's corner's were not leading to chances, but Albion had a gift of a free kick right on half time, given to them by Adam Smith for a charge on Anichebe, but Dawson headed over - 0-0 at half time.
WBA players coming back after half time.
Second Half
The second half was only three minutes in when Junior Stanislas linked up with Yann Kermorgant and then Junior, in the centre, played in Eunan O'Kane on the left side of the box and Eunan finished cleanly to put the Cherries one up! It was his first goal of the season and boy did he enjoy it.

The goal brought West Brom out more and Blanco played a good ball up to Victor Anichebe and as Baily Cargill backed off into the box I feared the worst, but some how Tommy Elphick got his body in the way when the cross came in and survived the handball shouts. But when the ball came out to Gamboa, he hit a viscous bending shot, from some 25 yards, that Camp did well to keep out.

Alan Irvine made his first sub on 55 minutes with Ideye coming off and World Cup striker Georgios Samaros entering the game. Yann Kermorgant was showing his skills now with a beautiful turn in front of O'Neil, but he was later fouled by Dawson. On the hour Gosling had a chance but a West Brom player got a hand or something on the ball, and when Rantie went on a long burst down the field McAuley stopped him right at the end.

WBA made a second sub on 63 minutes as Stephane Sessegnon came on for O'Neil and within a minute you cold see his Premier League class, as he fired a shot just wide. Ryan Fraser next went on a break down the right. When he met a pass back to him in the box, he turned swiftly, but could only hook his shot wide!

Albion also had a chance from a corner but Jason Davidson shot wide. On 69 minutes Callum Wilson came on for Tokelo Rantie and on 73 minutes Blanco was replaced by WBA's star striker - Saido Berahino. Eddie Howe replied by bring on Simon Francis for Ryan Fraser and Adam Smith pushed up on the right wing.

AFCB managed to keep WBA quiet for most of the last 10 minutes as the Midland team complained to the referee, and wasted their own time with a throw in the bottom right of the field, which the referee insisted be taken in the right place - it was very amusing! Just when it seemed that the action would be all over, Samaras made a run down the left and his shot deflected off Tommy Elphick for an own goal! The WBA fans went wild with delight. There were only five minutes to go of normal time and it was 1-1!

Yet, in a week that has been truly historic for the Cherries they picked themselves up from this set back immediately, and Adam Smith dinked a chip up over the defence on the right wing for Callum Wilson to run on to. Callum ran in on goal, before releasing his shot that Myhill merely steered into the net with his attempt at trying to get an arm to the shot - it was 2-1 and the Baggies were going out! 

Shaun MacDonald came on for Yann Kermorgant right at the end. While WBA had four minutes of extra time to get an equaliser, and Chris Baird might have done so with a header, but is sailed over the bar.
Bournemouth grab a last gasp winner and WBA are knocked out!
Players thank the found for a noisy evening.
Eddie Howe leaves his players to celebrate with the crowd.
First goal scorer Eunan O'Kane in the background
with Fraser, Gosling (perhaps) and Tommy Elphick. 
It was an excellent team performance by the Cherries. They had thwarted a strong West Brom team who had not managed to wrestle as much possession away from the Cherries as I am sure they would have liked. With many notable Premier League players for West Brom on the pitch by the end of the game, it was a truly pleasing result and there was much reason for AFCB fans to celebrate - through to the last eight! There is a strange kind of symmetry about 'eight' and AFCB at the moment - another Midlands side had been felled.

I took some videos of the crowd and players at the end of the game, so hopefully I can put something up on that this evening.

Camp, Smith, Elphick, Cargill, Harte, Stanislas, O'Kane, Gosling, Fraser (Francis 75), Rantie (Wilson 69), Kermorgant (MacDonald 88)

AFCB Ratings
Camp 7, Smith 8, Elphick 8, Cargill 7, Harte 7, Stanislas 7, O'Kane 8, Gosling 7, Fraser 7, Rantie 7, Kermorgant 7

AFCB subs
Flahavan, MacDonald, Francis, Pitman, Wilson, Daniels, Ritchie

West Bromwich AlbionMyhill, Gamboa, Dawson Booked, McAuley, Davidso, Mulumbu Booked, O'Neil (Sessegnon 63), Baird, Blanco (Berahino 75 ), Ideye (Samaras 55 ), 10 Anichebe

WBA Subs
Foster, Wisdom, Gardner, Berahino, Sessegnon, Samaras, Roofe

Ref watch: Paul Tierney 5

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Howe will have to pick 'n mix for WBA match

If there was one slightly annoying thing about winning away so comprehensively against Birmingham, it was the knowledge that Steve Cook and Harry Arter would not be able to play a part in the next match having both reached five cautions for the season. Some may say that the players were keen to get their suspensions out of the way with the League Cup match, but I am not certain that was the case. Still I can see the advantages of getting those suspensions out of the way. Eddie also has the dilemma of whether to bring back Yann Kermorgant. It is at times like this that the size of the squad is going to be fully-utilised and it is likely that some of the players that have done so well in the Capital One Cup will be given the opportunity to continue in the Fourth round.
Junior Stanislas is perhaps one we will see line up against WBA.
That means Baily Cargill having just signed a new contract is expected to come in for Steve Cook and Dan Gosling is the clear favourite for Arter's position - can he possibly keep his record of a goal in every round?Junior Stanislas may replace Matt Ricthe and Eunan' O'Kane could also feature if Eddie wants some cover in front of the back four. There could be places on the bench for Shaun MacDonald as Andrew Surman is cup-tied, and while I would love to see Joe Partington who is said to be training, I expect Adam Smith and Ian Harte will provide defensive cover. It is up front where Eddie Howe will be thinking what is best to do. If we follow his logical thought process so far this season, it will be Brett Pitman and Tokelo Rantie to start, and having seen them both do well I think the home crowd would like that as long as Callum or Yann was available to come on if needed.
It looks like Cook is ready to give his shirt to someone.
Lee Camp could also be back in the side as he will be desperate to play his part in the team again. Artur Boruc unlikely to relinquish his number one spot anytime soon. Lee also needs to remind everyone that he is also a great keeper. It has been difficult for Eddie Howe to keep rotating the team, but this game gives him a good opportunity to try a few new things and if the players can come away with a win they will start to feel that Wembley might not be quite such a bad place to see a red flag flying high in the sky!

Enjoy the game tonight. Anything is possible, but I don't suppose anyone fancies the odds of an 8-0 win do they?

WBA would be foolish to assume an easy game at AFCB

I am a bit worried that WBA don't know when they are beaten these days. Alan Irvine has a team that are playing some of the best football in the Midlands at the moment, and they have a goal scorer that is a particular hot shot. A draw against Man Utd and a come back against Crystal palace shows that they are made of hardy stuff these days. Irvine will be expected to not play all of his front line team against AFCB, but he might have to think twice about playing a completely different 11 from his Premier League line up, because AFCB are in the mood to take on any one.
Whoever is on the other side of the pitch to face
AFCB these days they don't get an easy game. What kind of WBA
side will show up though?
WBA could rest Saido Berahino for this match. Their star Burundi striker is their best weapon for staying in the Premier League and they have plenty of other strikers who will fancy their chances for this game. In the previous round Irvine selected Brown Ideye and Victor Anichebe, while Samaras came off the bench. They have some other great players like Chris Brunt in midfield and James Morrisson, while at the back they have Joleon Lescott and Chris Baird on their books, but don't expect the big names to play. Boaz Myhill has also been playing in goal in the Capital One rather than Ben Foster. They also have some injuries - Yacob, Varela and Olsson are out. If the second 11 do get the okay to play the match though we can expect to see a group of players that are eager to make a name for themselves and to get nearer to Albion's first team.

It may be that Irvine does a bit of both, keeping some of his top players on the bench just in case they don't go according to plan. Eddie Howe says that he knows that Albion have been at many of the Cherries' recent games and are taking this game seriously. The 8-0 thrashing of Birmingham will give WBA reason to prove that not all the teams in the second city are so easy to pick off.

A place in the last eight awaits the winner and a more lucrative draw is possible. So AFCB have every reason to try and punish Irvine if he does tread too lightly on the south coast.

Last time in the Capital One Cup, WBA's team against Hull City was as follows:
Mayhill, McAuley, Davidson, Olsson, Gamba, O'Neil, Mulumbu, Yacob, Blanco, Ideye, Anichebe

WBA subs: Foster, Wisdom, Berhino, Dawson, Varela, Samaras, Nabi

All Departments' marathon podcast is now available to listen to. Listen to reviews of both the Reading and Birmingham wins on All Departments' websiteor listen by scrolling down the side panel on Cherry Chimes to the All Departments' sound bar.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Elphick will be tested against WBA

In AFCB's last game, Tommy Elphick was basically caught out and basically hauled Donaldson down in the box with a virtual rugby tackle having got the wrong side of him, and it was only Artur Boruc's fantastic save that preserved the clean sheet. How ever pleased Tommy will have been with the win, I am sure he will be disappointed that he made a mistake and will want to show that he is on top of his game with some of the Premier League boys coming to town. It is rare that we see Tommy get a yellow card, but I am sure he will be determined to have a brilliant performance on Tuesday night.
Tommy Elphick will be hoping to keep the clean sheet record going.
Tommy will feel even more responsibility on his shoulders with Steve Cook missing the match, but he has already played a few games with Baily Cargill and has been singing the young man's praises. The feel good factor will make training a pleasure in the next few days for the players and Tommy is one who certainly is unlikely to be slacking. He will need to be at his very best.

The team is not only winning well but it is keeping those clean sheets coming and to get one against West Brom would be particularly satisfying. The players have earned this chance to be playing the top teams more regularly, and it is not by any luck that they have risen to where they are in the league table. It is reassuring that Eddie Howe feels he can slip in any of the players from the squad to play in such an important game for the club without weakening the team. That opinion though will be thoroughly tested on Tuesday night. It will be down to players like Tommy to show that AFCB is capable of fighting it out against quality opposition and coming out on top. That is the benchmark that has been set now. AFCB need to used to challenging the best. Come on Albion - we're ready for you!

I have written some pre-match answers for the Albion Till We Die blog which you can see up on their site now ahead of Tuesday's game. I hope you are all enjoying the comment section on the bottom of each article that is now supported by MatchChat - give it a go if you have not tried it yet - you can use twitter to sign in.

The All Departments' double-header podcast is now available to listen to. Listen to reviews of the Reading and Birmingham wins on All Departments' website or listen by scrolling down the side panel on Cherry Chimes to the All Departments' sound bar. It's 95 minutes of joy!!

How do you follow a 0-8 win?

Thankfully that is the task of Eddie Howe and his players are faced with, after a history-making day at St Andrew's. Eddie Howe, ever the gentleman was very graceful in showing tremendous respect for Malcolm Crosby and Richard Beale, who had looked after the managerless Birmingham side during a dramatic day that saw AFCB notch up an impressive eight goals without reply. It is never nice to be beaten, but to be so well beaten is difficult for anyone to take. Howe had already stressed how sad he felt that so many managers have already lost their jobs in the Championship this season, and he knows very well what it is like to be on the end of a hammering. Still, he had to be pleased with the way AFCB had shown a ruthless side to their game that has taken them up to fourth in the league.
Hopefully Eddie can guide the team to another win against WBA.
'Focus' is a word that Howe will probably use now to keep players' thoughts well grounded. At the end of the day even an 8-0 win only gets you three points, much the same as a 1-0 win. But the atmosphere and confidence around the players must be through the stratosphere at the moment. That is why I am really pleased that their next game is against West Borm - a Premier League side. The knowledge that a much harder game is coming will hopefully make everyone realise that there is still work to be done, and that to dwell on Saturday's result for too long would not be helpful. Eddie Howe has often said that we don't get too down when we lose and don't celebrate too much when we win. It's all about keeping a level head.

I am sure the players and staff will be allowed to have some celebrations though as a record league win is exactly that and does not come along every day. The game was mainly played out though against 10 men and Birmingham have had a poor run of results at home before the trouncing by AFCB. Putting things into perspective, it was a good away win with a clean sheet. The winning run of course is still going and the push up the table will really get AFCB noticed now. That brings fresh pressures and demands on the players. Earlier in the season the team did lead the league for two games and that experience should help them prepare for that challenge again if they can catch Derby, Watford and Wolves.

Knowing how well Eddie Howe assesses the opposition and situations, I am sure that he will know exactly how to get the best out of the players for the next game. Being over confident is something that he won't accept and the hard work ethic of the players is sure to be continued. Will that be enough to beat WBA in the Capital One Cup and take a stonger grip on the Championship? We can't wait to see.     

I have written some pre-match answers for the Albion Till We Die blog which you can see up on their site now ahead of Tuesday's game.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Tokelo did not disappoint

AFCB fans have been shouting for Tokelo Rantie to join the action for quite some time and while he did not get a whole match against Birmingham, it was great to see him take it all in his stride. It would have been easy for him to let another player take the penalty that came AFCB's way in the second half. Marc Pugh was on a hat-trick at the time. The pressure on TK you can say may have been lessened by the fact that AFCB were 0-5 up, but when you really need to score, the pressure is on. so it was good to see Tokelo slot the ball home like he hadn't a care in the world.
Tokelo Rantie's performance was the icing on the cake against Birmingham City.
That takes bottle. AFCB fans can sense now that Tokelo is ready to deliver. He is a player who I think will thrive on the club as it does well. If he can be a part of that fun and enjoyment I believe we will see the best of Tokelo Rantie in the next few months. He may have come to the party a little late for some, but if he can start to regularly contribute he will be given the kind of support from the fans that is reserved for special talent. The exciting aspect to all this is that Wilson is on form, Pitman is on form, Rantie is on form and Yann is about to come back hungrier than he probably was before.

Whatever you may feel about the games when AFCB were not getting the results and were not getting any decisions go their way, the team now has a belief that I've only ever seen with Eddie Howe teams. It is the kind of spirit that took them right through League One on Eddie's return and if you have not yet put a bet on for this team to be involved in the shake up of Championship come next may it might be time to reconsider.

Eddie's judgement on players is hopefully right on TK. We are starting to see that Rantie is able to score at the Championship level and with gentle encouragement he may yet prove any doubters wrong. Getting a second goal in open play against Birmingham will also have demonstrated that Rantie is really a goalscorer that can be predatory, and it does not appease him just to score one goal in a game. In some ways it was lucky for Birmingham that Rantie did not come on sooner than the 64th minute.

Pugh has taken his game to new heights

Looking back on this last month you will find it hard to find a player who has had a better run of games in the team than Marc Pugh. He has collected his first Championship hat-trick when he put three goals away against Birmingham, and he has been one of the players whose assists are beginning to stack up. Pugh has been playing so well that Ryan Fraser and Junior Stanislas have hardly had a look in and he has become one of the first names on the team sheet.
Pugh's hat-trick include two almost carbon copy headed goals.
I am particularly impressed that Marc is getting quite a few headed goals. The team as a whole does not score that often from high crosses, and Pugh is not the tallest player in the team.Pugh is now getting in the end of Francis' high floated crosses and the unerring accuracy of his finishing is adding goal power to the Cherries who are now averaging two goals a game. It is the timing of his runs though that is catching teams out and he has that sense of when to time his run and keep his cool, even when being challenged. Can he keep this form going? I certainly hope so and I think the way the team is playing with a slightly more direct approach when in the opposition's half is suited to Pugh's game. He does not have as much time now to overplay.

It is hard to see Pugh being left out of the league matches at the moment and I hope he is recognised as one of the player's of the month. It is true that Wilson has scored a lot of goals but Pugh has been making and scoring a few himself.
Pugh has been unplayable this season.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Goal crazy Cherries make Birmingham feel really blue 0-8!!

Birmingham 0 v 8 AFCB (Yes EIGHT!)
25 October 2014
Attendance: 13,837 (1093 Cherry fans)
Now I didn't see that coning! Picture supplied by Damien Hill.
I kind of felt as though I had under done it a bit with my 0-4 scoreline prediction for this game. It was a bit of a massacre and I am not sure if Birmingham will recover from this. There are days when everything goes right for your team and nothing goes right for the opposition. A missed penalty just added to Birmingham's woes. For AFCB though it was their biggest ever league win and the good times we can only hope are hear to stay, as this was a comprehensive result albeit against 10-men for most of the match. The Cherries are on the march, there's no doubt about that now.

Eddie Howe named an unchanged side for the third match in a row with Brett Pitman and Callum Wilson keeping their strike partnership. It is hard to argue with that when the team keeps performing so well. I was more surprised the hear that Stephen Gleeson would start for the Blues as he had been a big doubt with a calf problem, while Wes Thomas came into the starting line up - please don't play well today Wes, I prayed! He hardly got a touch of the ball as it happens. Hall, Novak and Randolph, the keeper also came into the Birmingham side.

Match Description
Well I had just sat down and AFCB were 0-1 up!! Pitman wanted more time to try and get a hat-trick today and had fund the back of the net after just three minutes after latching on to a long ball and strolling round Randolph. Just as things got underway again Edgar was sent off bt referee Keith Hill for a tug on Callum Wilson! Birmingham would have to play the rest of the game with 10-men after Edgar was said to have stopped a goal scoring opportunity. Wes Thomas had to come off - a short day's work for him. Birmingham brought on David Davis.

What a start to a game. Novak was also in the book for a foul on Francis. Surman and Pugh were already linking well and AFCB were now trying to increase their lead. Birmingham though won a corner and the header from Hall went just over on 17 minutes. AFCB came back with Pugh dragging a shot wide. Cook was also doing his bit heading clear at the back for Bournemouth. Wilson then got through after a Surman pass and tried to lob the keeper, but his shot was parried! Pugh then put in a cross for Pitman who shot just wide. Cotterill was by far the best Birmingham player at this time, but they were struggling to play the ball out of defence. Donaldson went for an ambitious overhead kick but his shot went wide.

Steve Cook collected a yellow card for a pull on his man after 29 minutes - that puts him out for the WBA game. Grant Hall then conceded a corner as AFCB looked for their second. Surman  also picked up a yellow card - apparently he took it for the team. AFCB were short at the back. On 35 minutes though Randolph's clearance went straight to Ritchie and his first time pass to Wilson put him in and Callum made it 0-2.

Birmingham were really starting to feel the pressure now and Ritchie pounced to make it 0-3 for his first of the season.  Ritchie scored with a classy lobbed finish. Birmingham were not giving up though. David Cotterill went close after a direct free kick. AFCB were back on the attack as the half closed out. Arter played the ball up to Pitman who played in Wilson, but he hit the post with his shot!

At half time AFCB had had 62 per cent possession, 10 shots compared to four from Birmingham. Birmingham were booed off! Birmingham had made it very easy for the Cherries.

Second Half
At the start of the second half Arter forces a good save from Randolph. Elphick hauled down Clayton Doanldson and a penalty was given. Only a yellow for Elphick. Boruc faces Paul Caddis who hit the shot low to the left, but Boruc makes the save! Some bad news for AFCB did come though as Arter picked up a yellow for a bad tackle, which means he also misses Tuesday's game. He was then subbed for Gosling to come on after 56 minutes. Boruc was then called into action with a good save from Grounds. Surman also then tried his luck, but Randoph made a save. A moment later though it was AFCB extending their lead as Francis crossed and Pugh headed in the fourth.

That was the signal for Rantie to replace Pitman on 66 minutes. Pugh still had not had enough of scoring though and he made it five with another header. Callum Wilson was replaced by Ryan Fraser with 20 minutes still to go. Rantie almost put Pugh through for his hat-trick but he was offside. Up to this point AFCB had taken 17 shots and eight had been on target. 

Francis was next bundled over and a pen was awarded for AFCB. "Let Rantie take it," I pleaded and he stepped up and made it six! That wasn't it though as Gosling played in Pugh for his hat-trick to make it seven, and then Fraser hit the post, and Rantie made it eight! Fraser and Ritchie went close as the game reached extra time, but I think Birmingham had had enough by then.

Official Match tweets from AFCB
01: Cotterill & Novak kick-off to get the game started.


03: Pitman picks up the loose ball & puts the visitors in front with a great finish! #bcfc 0-1 #afcb.

06: Red card! Edgar is sent off for bringing down Wilson just outside the area. #bcfc 0-1 #afcb.

08: Pitman goes close with a free-kick, curling the ball just wide! #bcfc 0-1 #afcb

9 - Blues sub - David Davis on for Wes Thomas. 0-1. #bluesLIVE

17: Hall heads over from Cotterill's inswinging corner from the right. #bcfc 0-1 #afcb.

18: What a start at St Andrew's! Pitman put #afcbin front early on & Edgar sent off for #bcfc . 0-1.

20: Pugh finds some space on the edge of the area, but drags his shot wide.

23: So close! Wilson has his effort saved by Randolph before Pitman sends the rebound wide.

27: Donaldson tries an overhead kick inside the box, but it doesn't trouble Boruc.

29: Cook is shown a yellow card. That's his fifth booking of the season

35: GGGGOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLL to #afcb ! It's Wilson!

35: Wilson makes the most of another defensive mistake to double the lead. #bcfc 0-2 #afcb .

40: GGGGGGGOOOOOOOOOAAAALLL! Ritchie gets his first of the season. #bcfc 0-3 #afcb .

40: Ritchie nips in to lob the keeper & open his account. You could see what it meant to him! #bcfc 0-3

45: There will be three minutes of additional time at the end of the first half. #bcfc 0-3 #afcb .
47+2: Wilson hits the post. The striker denied after going one-on-one. 

HALF-TIME: #bcfc 0-3 #afcb

Second Half
46: Wilson & Pitman get the second half underway.

One change at the break for Blues - Callum Reilly on for Stephen Gleeson. 0-3.
51: Good save! Randolph pushes Arter's close range finish behind for a corner. 

53: Saved! Caddis takes & Boruc pushes it away!

52: Penalty! Elphick brings down Donaldson in the six yard box.

53: Saved! Caddis takes & Boruc pushes it away! #bcfc 0-3 #afcb. #BCFCvAFCB

55: Arter is the third #afcb player to be booked. That's his fifth yellow card of the campaign

56: Howe makes his first change, with Gosling replacing Arter

61: Surman denied by a solid Randolph block as#afcb go in search of a fourth goal.

63: GGGOOOOOAAAALLL!!! Pugh gets on the scoresheet! #bcfc 0-4

63: Francis got forward to cross & Pugh got in front of Pitman to head home. #bcfc 0-4 #afcb .

64: Rantie is on in place of Pitman for the final 25 minutes.

69: GGGGGOOOOOAAAALLL!!! Pugh is on target again! #bcfc 0-5 #afcb. http://

69: It's another header from Pugh, who sparks celebrations in the away end again. #bcfc 0-5#afcb . #BCFCvAFCB

71: Goalscorer Wilson comes off for Fraser.

76: Another good save from Boruc. He was equal to Cotterill's drive from range.

81: Penalty! Francis is fouled in the box by Cotterill.

82: GGGGOOOAAALLL!! Ohhhh Tokelo Rantie! #bcfc 0-6 #afcb.

83: GGGGGOOOOOAAAALLL! Pugh gets his hat-trick to make it seven! #bcfc 0-7 #afcb .

86: GGGGOOOOOAAAALLL! Rantie gets a second after Fraser hits the post! #bcfc 0-8 #afcb .

90: There will be four minutes of added on time at the end of the second half. http://

FULL-TIME: #bcfc 0-8 #afcb .

Boruc, Francis, Elphick, Camp, Daniels, Ritchie, Arter (Gosling 56), Surman, Pugh, Wilson (Fraser 71), Pitman (Rantie 65)

Camp, Gosling, Smith, Harte, Stanislas, Fraser, Rantie

Birmingham City
Randolph , Hall, Edgar, Robinson, Grounds, Coterril, Gleeson (Reilly 46), Caddis, Novak (Arthur 66), Donaldson, Thomas (Davis 10)

Birmingham Subs
Doyle, Packwood, Davis, Shinnie, Shea, Arthur, Reilly