Sunday, 30 November 2014

Pitman will probably be more selfish in future

I was pleased to see Brett Pitman hold his arms out stretched again yesterday. It would have been even better if he had repeated the celebration exercise in the second half after racing clear alongside Junior Stanislas when AFCB were looking to close out the match against Millwall. That things went rather amiss on this occasion should not deflect from some of the strong play Pitman was involved in during the game and his great finish in the first half.
Pitman netted once, but might have had two on Staurday.
Eddie Howe was quick to dispel thoughts of blame on specific individuals for the mix up in the 85th minute against Millwall. The fact that AFCB need to keep that team spirit strong is an important factor in a long season when things will go for you in some games and against you in others. To be fair, the Cherries got what they deserved in Eddie's book. The bigger problems was that they were considered "masters of their own downfall," Eddie said.

The offside decision against Junior Stanislas merely compounded the fact that the Cherries had had a pretty rotten second half by their own high standards. It is likely that the team will be in a similar position more than once again this season and it is important that they go about things differently next time. I don't want the though of two home draws after being in winning positions to effect the players and it is perhaps good that they have an away game next weekend. In the quick flash of a second it is easy to make the wrong decision and Pitman's error was only one of a number of mistakes that players made in this match. AFCB stopped playing their passing game and it cost them.

AFCB had started to overcome their early season weakness to close out games, but this result against Millwall following the Ipswich draw will have told Eddie Howe that more work is still needed in this regard. Whether Pitman will also be more selfish in front of goal will be something only he can decide as the matches keep coming, but on one side of the thought scenario in his head, he wanted Junior to finish the move off and to get a goal having already got one himself. It didn't work out, but to me it also shows that Pitman is thinking very much as a team member these days and not always as an individual.

Tomorrow I'll be releasing the December Newsletter for Cherry Chimes so if you have not yet subscribed you can do so below. I'll spill my  thoughts about the 18,000 seat stadium idea and special criteria for buying tickets for the Liverpool Capital One game.

Junior Stanislas before the Millwall match.

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Cherries stunned by Millwall's second half comeback 2-2

Match Report
AFCB 2 v 2 Millwall
29 November 2014
Attendance: 10,016

Ian Holloway signs some programmes for fans at Dean Court.
Chimes' FanCam: we speak to Millwall fans Bobby and Jimmy 
prematch to get their take on the Lions ahead 
of the game. (Sorry Jimmy that I did not get you more in shot!)

Everything was set up for AFCB to go top of the table on this day and the early play of the Cherries brought their rewards with early first half goals from Steve Cook and Brett Pitman. However, it turned out to be a fragile lead that was soon wiped clear by a Millwall side who are becoming renowned for their fighting spirit and excellent comebacks. Whether it was Ian Holloway's good tactical substitutions or the Cherries ability to lose their way is difficult to explain, as both probably combined move the balance of play, and once Ed Upson had pulled one back from the Lions the writing was on the wall that an equaliser would come. It was even more painful to see Brett Pitman and Junior Stanislas manage to mess up a chance to kill the game at 2-1 when through on David Forde, but Millwall took their chance on 88 minutes and it's now three draws in a row for AFCB as they slip to fourth in the table.
AFCB get ready to take on the Lions.
AFCB players encourage each other.
Millwall players seem more interested in inspecting the turf.
More pictures are on the Match Day Gallery.

The only change in AFCB's starting line up was Brett Pitman coming in for the injured Callum Wilson, while on the bench in came O'Kane and Cargill. The big question was how well  would AFCB play with less pace up front?

The first 10 minutes saw the teams test each other out with Steve Cook going closest on eight minutes with a header from a corner that flew just wide. Much of the play for both teams was getting cut out in the last third. David Forde was very good at racing out ahead of Kermorgant as temporary sweeper, but AFCB did not have the speed up front to make the most of such opportunities, while Pitman was exercising the assistant referee's flag that waved impatiently for an offside. Millwall were also clamping down on Bournemouth's pacey runners and Ritchie caught an unfair challenge early on.

Andrew Surman was also handing out heavy tackles and took Lee Martin down, although no foul was given. The Cherries played on and won a corner much to Ian Holloway's annoyance on the touchline. The corner on 16 minutes found Harry Arter who played it back to Matt Ritchie and he fired in a rasping, curling shot from the edge of the box that just skimmed over the top left corner of Millwall's goal!

Martin had to be subbed having not recovered from his earlier struggle with Surman and on came Jermaine Easter on 20 minutes. The Cherries could have taken the lead moments later when Ritchie sent Francis on one of his galloping runs down the right and the cross was met by Yann Kermorgant header which was powerful but too high and over the bar! The Cherries were getting on top and Francis played another ball into the box that Pitman headed down and forced Forde to make a save that went out for a corner. The ball came right out to Daniels who played a long ball back in that Pitman headed down in the box, so that Surman could put in a cross that let Steve Cook to head home, on the far post, and make it 1-0 on 22 minutes.

Things were even better moments later when Ritchie on the right wing threaded a ball into Pitman in the box and the forward's diagonal run towards the near post was rewarded with the ball at his feet, and with a quick turn he reversed the angle of the ball that swept the ball past the onrushing David Forde to make it 2-0 on 25 minutes. Job done? 

Millwall's despair became even more amusing for the fans of the Cherries when Scott MacDonald was presented with a good chance on the edge of Bournemouth's box but his shot was blocked by Jermaine Easter who could not get out of the way! A corner a little later also saw Woolford shoot wide.

AFCB were also having directional problems with a Ritchie effort almost going out for a throw. AFCB were passing well though with Surman, Kermorgant and Pugh linking well only for Pugh to be given offside. Another shot saw Simon Francis hit the side netting on 33 minutes. Upson was given a yellow card for a foul on Daniels and Scott Malone was also given one moments afterwards for a foul on Ritchie. It was all falling apart for the Lions or so it seemed at the time.
Cherry Bear bangs out the drum.
The players com back on after half time.
Second Half
Millwall had started to pass the ball better at the latter part of the first half and when we saw Ricardo Fuller was on for Mark Beevers, it was no surprise that Fuller went for an early shot that went over. Woolford won a free kick on 50 minutes and and while the ball was cleared for a corner, Fuller again tried his luck with a shot that went wide.

The signs were there that this was not going to be an easy match for the Cherries to coast home in. With Kermorgant now getting caught off side when he could have timed his run a bit better things started to get worse with Pugh getting a yellow card for a needless push on Dunne. The omens were even less optimistic when the scoreboard reset itself to 1 minute after the hour mark. 

The substitute of Pugh for Stanislas on 61 minutes did not turn the pattern of play as Junior did not seem to get into the pace of the game. Millwall were really coming at AFCB now and a corner off Cook gave them a chance. Luckily Ed Upson's shot was straight at Boruc and safely held by him. Alan Dunne was next to force a save from Boruc and from the corner Webster and Williams both tried to get a header in but the ball went wide.

Under such pressure, Howe brought on O'Kane for Arter on 65 minutes. Bournemouth could slow down the game a bit when they won a free kick on the edge of the box on 72 minutes but Kermorgant's studied chip went well over without trouble Forde.

Kermorgant had a bit of a lash out at Dunne which luckily none of the officials saw, but as play went on Easter crossed a looped ball from the right wing for Ed Upson to pull a goal back for Millwall on 75 minutes. Holloway really went for it now bringing on Magaye Gueye for Martyn Woolford. It was an inspired move. 

AFCB took off Yann Kermorgant to bring Ryan Fraser on up front. Elphick was doing his best along with Cook at keeping Millwall out, but Boruc had to make another save from Fuller on 84 minutes. Webster received a yellow for a foul on Fraser, but Millwall were really pushing AFCB back now. A corner on 85 minutes saw them go close again with Boruc almost taking the ball over the line, but the breakaway should have sealed the game for Bournemouth. Instead, Fraser's crafted pass into Pitman and Stanislas saw the two go clear only for Pitman to pass to Stanislas instead of shooting past Forde, and while Stanislas brushed the ball into the net, he knew he was offside!

The ball was straight back up the other end  and Fuller saw his header tipped over. From the corner Dunne's attempt was deflected off Stanislas and the bar! But the Cherries could not hold out and one more cross from the right wing left Elphick on the floor and Gregory fired in a shot that hit Cook on the arm at speed. The referee did not blow his whistle, but the ball came out to the substitute Gueye to drive the ball into the corner of the net to make it 2-2 on 88 minutes! Millwall's players and fans went wild. It had been coming a long while.

Four minutes of extra time saw AFCB go forward in the kind of positive style you wish they had been able to do earlier in the second half. Still, there was to be no more goals and it was only a point for the Cherries for the second week in a row at home.
Deja vu with last weeks score.
Disappointment for the Cherries but a point on the board.
AFCB simply lost their way. They were so comfortable in the first half it was untrue. All credit though to Millwall who fired themselves up for the second half and put plenty of crosses in Bournemouth's box. This draw felt more like a defeat than the 2-2 draw against Ipswich, because Millwall had not been in the game in the first 45 minutes. A late equaliser was what they worked hard for though and some of AFCB's players have to now think why they invited so much pressure on to them in the second half, while the most of the AFCB fans are still shaking their heads over Pitman's error to pass to Sranislas rather than to shoot at goal when it was 2-1.
Eddie Howe and JT.
Loads of security on the pitch.

Millwall fans in good voice.

Ollie pleased with his lads' work.
Boroc, Francis, Elphick, Cook, Daniels, Ritchie, Arter, Surman, Pugh, Pitman, Kermorgant.

Camp, Smith, Gosling, Fraser, Stanislas, Cargill, O'Kane

AFCB Ratings
Boroc 6, Francis 8, Elphick 6, Cook 6, Daniels 7, Ritchie 6, Arter 6 (O'Kane 65), Surman 8, Pugh 7 (Stanislas 61), Pitman 6, Kermorgant 6 (Fraser 78).

Millwall Forde, Dunne, Webster, Beevers (Fuller 45 ), Malone, Williams, Upson, Martin (Easter 20), McDonald, Woolford (Gueye 76), Gregory

Millwall Subs
Shittu, Easter, Gueye, Fuller, Powell, MartΓ­nez, King

Ref Watch: Andy Davies 5/10 reasonable performance, let a lot go in the second half.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Nothing to choose between most Championship teams

While Derby have increased their lead slightly at the top of the Championship, last weekend's results only go to prove that there is not much between the top sides this season. With six draws in the last set of matches I was pleased I stayed away from putting any wins on the betting slip, but one point in matches does not do much for you in the Championship. It can't be coincidence that of the top eight there are seven clubs in that AFCB have not managed to beat yet this season, but the Cherries have only lost to three of them and the consistency of taking regular points can take you a long way.
Keep stacking up the points AFCB, let's see where it takes us.
Arguably AFCB should have beaten a few of those teams looking back at the games, but several of those teams will have had similar experiences. As a guide you can usually say that two points a game will get you in and around the play-offs or if not even better. This season it does not look like the bar is going to be set quite so high as even Derby have fallen behind in that target. I do struggle to find a reason though why this season more teams have not broken clear yet. It is not that a few hammerings haven't been given out, but defences seem to be doing well with the worst teams conceding less than two goals a game on average.

You can say it is a tighter league this year, and I think more competitive in that all the teams are of a similar standard, but I believe there is plenty of variety in the kind of football that is being played even between the top six that makes it an entertaining league. Those teams nearer the bottom that have only scored 12 goals this season so far might be struggling to see the excitement, but the intensity of the league will start to build now and the best teams are already rising to the top.

Everyone is trying to stamp their authority on the Championship and yet if you look at the top six only Derby have lost as many as two games in their last 10, and yet they sit top of the league! So don't pin your hopes on anyone having cracked it just yet. We can only hope that three point against Millwall today may help AFCB move away from a few of the chasers. UTCIAD!

Happy 37th Birthday Eddie Howe and 300 games as manager today! I think we'll have to sing Happy Birthday later at the game.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Why has Millwall's form faded?

Millwall had a terrific start to the season, but have faded of late and now occupy 18th position in the league having been on a run of one win in the last 10 games. The club has faced some pretty tough competition in that run though including Derby, Watford, Wolves and Brentford and earned creditable draws against Derby and Watford.
Draws are starting to hurt Millwall.
So what has slowed the Lions' progress? Averaging just over one goal a game has not helped their cause and more worrying Ian Holloway said he had 11 players on the pitch against Huddersfield who could not pass to each other. It was the Huddersfield defeat that really hurt Millwall's confidence, because it was a game where they really thought they would get back to winning ways. They seem to be fairly consistent though at getting about a point a game at present. Before the Huddersfield match in late September they had achieved eight points from their previous right games and since then they have earned eight points from nine games, which is close to relegation form.

Defensively the goals have been going in against them of late, although they did get a clean sheet in the goalless draw against Charlton in their last match. Before that though they were conceding two or more goals a game in the previous three matches. Free kicks have also been a sucker punch for them against Birmingham, Watford and Wolves as well as long balls that they have been conceding from and if you analyse their results it's the draws that are costing Millwall a higher position in the league.

Lee Gregory is the player that I think could cause a surprise but AFCB have to look to put Millwall away early. But if Millwall can go to Derby and get a point and be three down against Wolves and come back to get a draw, they are well capable of getting the blocks in the keep the Cherries out.

The news from AFCB's camp is more positive on Tokelo Rantie than I had been expecting and I hope he is back fit before the African Cup of Nations. As for Callum Wilson, I have a sneaky feeling that he'll be available to play on Saturday and indications from what Eddie Howe said on Cherries player is that Ryan Fraser would play up front with Yann Kermorgant if Callum was not fit enough to play.

Village Urban Resorts as an official AFCB partner has some tickets up to be won for the AFCB match v Cardiff City on 13 December. To be in with a chance to win visit Village Urban Resort's Facebook page and answer the question correctly.

Millwall: will they come to park the bus?

You have to wonder what exactly Ian Holloway will be thinking when he brings his team to Dean Court this weekend. They are not on the strongest of runs having won just one game in their last 10 and there has to be a bit of a tendency to consider parking the bus against a Bournemouth side that are the equal highest goalscorers in the division.
Scott Malone should be back at dean Court on Saturday.
The prospect of a mismatch though is usually a sign of trouble. AFCB cannot be over confident with Ian Holloway on the sidelines as he will change things tactically as soon as he sees a possible chink in AFCB's game. Keeping things tight and hoping for a set piece is probably Millwall's best chance of getting a result at Dean Court, but it is not easy to instruct your team not to break in numbers when the game is in full swing.

Ian will be hoping that the problems in the striker department for AFCB plays into their hands, but AFCB are a team that has improved since last season and there are far more players getting on AFCB's goal sheet apart from the front two these days. With the latest home form as well AFCB have only dropped two points from a possible 15.

I can't see this being a 0-0 draw as Millwall will have to try and come forward at some point and trying to keep their shape while closing down the ball for 90 minutes against the Cherries is going to need a super fit team. AFCB are still going to need to find a way past a reliant David Forde in goal and defenders like Danny Shittu and Solly know how to nullify a game, as Charlton found last time out. Winning though is not something that Millwall have done in their last five games on the road.

AFCB Home Form

Millwall Away Form

Good luck those who are going to try and buy tickets for the Liverpool Capital One match today. Tickets go on sale at 10am, be lucky!

Village Urban Resorts as an official AFCB partner has some tickets up to be won for the AFCB match v Cardiff City on 13 December. To be in with a chance to win visit Village Urban Resort's Facebook page and answer the question correctly.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Have Millwall got the weapons to hurt the Cherries?

Millwall's strike force has not been prolific. The well-known Ricardo Fuller heads their chart along with Lee Gregory on three goals. What you can say about Millwall is that just about everyone in their team has grabbed a goal but they are struggling up front to find the net.
Millwall players at Dean Court.
Ian Holloway will be aware of his side's shortcomings, but perhaps hasn't got the funds to deal with the problems. With 19 goals this season though they are far from being the worst goalscorers and they have only failed to score in one of their last five matches. That was against Charlton when they played out a 0-0 draw.
Ricardo Fuller scored against the Cherries last
season in a Blackpool shirt at Dean Court.
Coming into this match, Millwall's attacking players might not frighten AFCB's defence too much but they are well capable of nicking a goal. From midfield the Cherries will have to watch out for Martyn Woolford who scored the goal that separated the two sides in the last game of last season. Scott Malone will be the main target of entertainment for AFCB fans, but I always thought he played with strong ability when he was with the Cherries and his direct dribbling style is a weapon that Millwall will surely use to relieve pressure.

So while Millwall may not have massive striking power they are averaging just over one goal a game. The task will be to ensure that they are gifted with nothing and AFCB will surely be aiming to get back to obtaining a clean sheet here.

Was Ipswich game really Cherries best performance?

Eddie Howe was adamant that the Ipswich game was the Cherries best performance of the season so far. I understand where he is coming from in the fact that the control of the game and the forward attacking play was very pleasing on they eye against a top ranked team, but I felt there were lots of improvements still to be made and not just because of the 2-2 result.  
Surman and Arter are really pushing the team on well.
AFCB certainly created a lot of chances but they did not take all of them or nearly half of them. Out of the 23 shots that were recorded nine were on target which is a pretty good ratio. Sometimes though less shots and better accuracy with the few chances you have can be more productive. I think the possession stat is more pleasing as to have 60 per cent of the play against a top rival, albeit at home, is dominance in terms of what teams achieve in the Championship. What I did feel Eddie Howe would have been pleased with is the way the team started the game in both halves. At the start of the second half AFCB entered a pattern of play when Ipswich simply couldn't get near the ball. The frustrating thing was after five minutes of that Ipswich scored with their first attack of the second half. You have to give the opposition some credit though as it was a well created move down their left wing and Teddy Bishop made an excellent finish.

Ipswich themselves managed 10 shots against the Cherries during the match and Boruc faced four that were on target and unfortunately let two in. I don't put the goals down to goalkeeping mistakes either as the whole team did not get to grips with Ipswich's play on the occasions when they created opportunities.

So best performance from the Cherries? I think there were some great individual performances and both Harry Arter and Andrew Surman were grafters in midfield who hardly put a foot wrong all game, but I believe there is much more to come from this side and they can still improve on what we saw at the weekend. High Championship standards are what this team are capable of now.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

What is it with AFCB and defending free kicks?

While Eddie Howe was probably more than a little frustrated at the team's inability to keep out Ipswich's second goal last weekend, defending from free kicks is something that AFCB still struggle with. We have seen it a number of times and last Saturday's game was no different. The team had been doing well, got the lead twice and yet could not defend a set piece.
May be we can turn on the sprinklers next time there is a free kick against AFCB.
I have to concede that Ipswich's players all pretty much looked like giants on the field and AFCB is not blessed with the tallest of squads. Still marking up and making a challenge has to be a prerequisite to good defending. I am not sure if Bournemouth were trying to mark zonally, but no one got anywhere near Daryl Murphy for his goal.

Earlier in the match there had been signs that Bournemouth could be up against it from corners and set pieces. Murphy himself hit the bar with an early header in front of the Steve Fletcher stand and Christophe Bera was unlucky to see Artur Boruc tip his header back over the bar at the end of the first half. It is not clear what the answer is apart from more practise, but Eddie Howe appears to be keen on trying not to give away so many opportunities to the opposition in the first place.

Eddie summed it up:"For the main we defended them very well, we just switched off for the second goal which is a bit of a frustration because we talked about their threat, we knew it but we couldn’t deal with it."

It may be that until the team acquires some taller players they will always be a bit weak in this area.

The Cherries must keep spirits high

AFCB have not been the hardest hit club in the Championship with injuries before this week with Elliott Ward being the only long term injury among the frequent starters. Now that a double blow has hit the same position, and the striker role, there is a worry that it could have an effect on the squad's confidence. Having seen pictures though of Tokelo beaming with a smile on his face I am keeping my fingers crossed that the players just take this in their stride and look to play even better to give those who are on the sidelines more encouragement to hurry back.
TK went for a big tumble but we want him back on his feet soon.
No injury is ever welcome but managers have to know that they can occur and usually do at the most inappropriate moment. Last season most of the injuries seemed to come in pre-season with Matt Ritchie and Tommy Elphick having to play catch up, but the Championship was bound to test the depth of AFCB's squad at some point.

While the team is strong in wide positions, the central spine of the team is not where you want to have big problems. If the team spirit has been high in recent weeks, the players know that they really have to pull together now to keep things going well without the help of  TK and potentially Callum Wilson for the Milllwall and sevreal more. I expect we will hear more about Callum's pull or strain in the week and if it is just that he needs a bit of rest after a hectic start to the season he may just make the miraculous recovery in time for the Millwall match. The fact that Eddie so quickly came out with thoughts of going into the emergency loan market takes a bit of pressure off of Callum I suppose to come back that soon. While he was clearly injured on Saturday we know that Callum won't want to miss a minute of the season if he can help it.
TK is hopefully still in good spirits.
Positives vibes are important though and if  Eddie has to bring some one in I am sure he will but tomorrow is the deadline. The mood in the camp needs to be good going into the Millwall game and a good result in that game will focus minds on what looks to be a big month for the Cherries.  UTCIAD! 

Finally, well done to the Development Squad and their 8-3 win against Cambridge! Both Jayden Stockley and Harry Cornick bagged hat-tricks. Stephen Purches' thoughts on the game are on the side panel of the blog.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Yann likes scoring at the South End

Yann Kermorgant must have a copyright order on spectacular goals at the Ted MacDougal stand. His volley against Ipswich had everyone in the ground marvelling at the quality of the finish and it is not the first time that he has done that having scored for Charlton in similar fashion against Bournemouth not so long ago. The Frenchmen is undoubtedly a player that has great technique and while some players only score such spectacular goals once in their lifetime, it all seems to come very naturally for Yann.

The goal that Yann scored against Ipswich was simply text book. Commentators were struggling to find the words to do justice to the strike which flew in at such pace that it stunned the Ipswich side. Yann is a big man but can shape himself for such volleys with great elegance and to meet the ball so flush must have even surprised him. No doubt there will be a lot of 5-10 year-olds trying to emulate such a finish in the playgrounds over the next few weeks. It was the kind of picture postcard goal that you only ever see in training books and is hard to match.

Some people have already said that it should be the goal of the season which is quite something when you look back at the goals that AFCB have already scored this season. I personally would go with the team goal against Norwich, but I have no problem with those who say that Yann's goal is of the highest quality, because it certainly was. 

The observant stadium announcer, Mike Botto pointed out that Marc Pugh was shadow practising the scissor kick finish behind Yann Kermorgant as the ball went in. It was good to know that he was getting in line in case Yann missed the ball. Special credit should also be mentioned for Simon Francis' terrific cross and the run of Andrew Surman away from the vicinity of the goal to draw the Ipswich players out and create more space. So while we focus in on Yann's finish, there was a lot more team play involved that you might have first imagined.

Was Ipswich Ritchie's best game yet?

Matt Ritchie was one of the best players on the pitch against Ipswich in my book. He not only scored but was a lively threat all game for the Cherries and was involved in just about all of the team's good work. There are times when you don't get a full 90 minutes out of Matt but he was superb in this match and he more than lasted the distance.
Matt pushed up his season's goal stats to two but was unlucky not to get more.
Matt's first big contribution came in the first few minutes with his shot against the bar. While he beat the keeper he was unlucky not to see the shot go in. He was always keen to receive the ball and moved with his usual great pace, but even more pleasing was his desire to get shots off. If he had just met a cross a bit better a few moments later after Bournemouth had already scored he would also have doubled the lead.

I felt his goal could have been almost been another missed chance as time stood still for a while when Callum Wilson tricked his way pass three Ipswich defenders and levelled the cross at Ritchie's feet. The winger had to get the ball under control before he could direct it towards goal and the Ipswich players were closing him down pretty swiftly. I am still not quite sure how he sqeezed the ball past Mings on the line but it was just in the nick of time that Ritchie got his shot away.

That Ritchie kept going was shown in extra time when he put in the cross down the right for a moment that Brett Pitman will probably want to forget. If only Brett had leaned forward rather than back it is quite likely that Bournemouth would have been celebrating another home win. Still the players recorded another unbeaten game and Ritchie was one of the big positives in this match.

If you look over on Kyle's Cups you'll find that Kyle Cotter has a preview of Everton's Europa league games coming up the first is against Vfl Wolfsburg this Thursday and in December they face FK Krasnodar.

Monday, 24 November 2014

What are the options if no striker can be brought in?

With Eddie Howe looking to find an emergency striker I believe he has a fall back option of Junior Stanislas partnering Yann Kermorgant in the front line if he can't get a suitable transfer sorted. Junior is essentially a winger but I don't see why he could not play off of Yann in a forward role. He has good pace and while he is not as string in physique as Callum Wilson he is not smaller than Tokelo Rantie.
Could Junior do a job up front?
Junior also has a reasonable scoring record and is already wanting to play more games. It is difficult for him to squeeze into the side with Matt Ritchie and Mac Pugh doing so well, but a couple of games as a short-term striker would not be such a bad option in my opinion. 

A second option could be to recall Josh McQuoid from Coventry City. Josh has not been in inspiring form though and it looks like Eddie Howe is ready to let him go as AFCB push for higher quality. That also seems the case with Matt Tubbs at AFC Wimbledon. Jayden Stockley also has not impressed Howe enough to bring him in closer to the first team squad. II have heard Ryan Fraser also being mentioned but I feel Junior is the more likely candidate.

If none of the above please they way Eddie Howe wants to set up the team it could well be that Pitman and Kermorgant have to carry the fight to Millwall. That will nullify the threat of pace through the middle which is essential for stretching teams at the back. The other possibility is for Yann or Brett to play as a lone striker and bring an extra midfielder into the team like Gosling or O'Kane, so Eddie has a lot of thinking to do if Callum is not 100 per cent fit for the Millwall match.

The Cherries are light up front

There has been talk of Eddie Howe looking at the loan market this week for a striker to come in for the injured Tokelo Rantie. The double injuries to TK and Callum Wilson are a massive blow for the Cherries who are riding high in the Championship. With two strikers likely to be unavailable for next week's match squad against Millwall their must be a case of urgency to see who might be available to cover the positions ahead of another busy few weeks in the league.
AFCB have already said that Rantie will be sidelined for a while.

Eddie Howe knows what he wants in a striker to run behind defences and to stretch play, but looking for such a candidate at this short a notice could be tricky. No doubt the club was checking a number of strikers over the summer when they were in the hunt for Callum Wilson. Who is available now though and on what money is the question that AFCB will be keen to find out, but the player has to be a good fit.

Over the summer Eddie Howe was linked with Carlton Cole at West Ham, but he is getting regular football at the Hammers now and played against Everton at the weekend. He has not the pace to get behind defences either for me.  

There are some deals to be had by all accounts, but finding a dynamic front man is difficult and recent calibre of  loan strike moves have not been that pulsating. Danny Graham went to Wolves from Sunderland this month and Gary Taylor-Fletcher also went to Sheffield Wednesday last month from Leicester. Dexter Blackstock at Nottingham Forest recently turned down a move to Sheffield Utd and might be available, but I can't say I'd be racing to get the cheque book out.

Whatever the chase for a player, AFCB are going to be competing against others as well. It is well known that Brighton are in the hunt for a number nine and there are several teams in the Championship that are desperate to bolster their striking power like Charlton, Wigan and Sheffield Wednesday. It is a pity that AFCB have not got a striker in the development squad that they yet feel could make the jump up to the full squad. By dipping into the emergency loan market though AFCB will be left to find a striker who is simply out of favour elsewhere.

Who do you want to come in for a few games? Use the comment section below to post your views on the striker that Eddie should enquire about.

Michael Dunne has also released his All Departments' podcast so you can listen back to the major talking points of the AFCB v Ipswich match by visiting the All Department's website or listen on Cherry Chimes by scrolling down to the All departments sound bar. 

Sunday, 23 November 2014

AFCB pegged back twice by dogged Ipswich 2-2 (videos)

Match Report
AFCB 2 v 2 Ipswich Town
22 November 2014
Attendance: 11,115
The flags were out for the clash between second and fourth.
I don't think the Cherries could have pulled a tougher home match out of the bag after the international break than Ipswich. Mick McCarthy's team are tall and dogged and while they were out played for parts of the game with the Cherries fast movement and close control, the Tractor Boys found their way back twice to earn themselves a hard fought draw in what was always going to be a battle. The struggle saw both Callum Wilson and his replacement Tokelo Rantie have to leave the pitch with injuries, the latter on a stretcher which throws into doubt what personnel will start for AFCB up front next week. But it was Yann Kermorgant who sparkled into life with his spectacular opener for Bournemouth in a first 10 minutes that saw Ipswich Town pulled and stretched to all parts of the ground. That Ipswich recovered after a torrid first half for them is perhaps an indication that their promotion prospects are also gaining strength.
Both teams line up.
Team photo pose.
More pictures of the day can be viewed on the Match Day Gallery.

Eddie Howe kept to the team that served him well at Middlesbrough. That seemed to be a correct call from the start as Francis and Pugh linked up to find Arter and then Ritchie in space and his immediate shot thundered against the cross bar in the second minute. Just when Ipswich thought they had got a let off, Francis gathered back the ball on the right and sent in big cross to the middle of the box where Yann Kermorgant shaped himself for a scissor kick and met the cross precisely to send the ball deep into the left corner of the goal as AFCB supporters went wild! Such a start had us wondering if Ipswich were going to be blown away like Birmingham a few weeks earlier.
The captains in the middle.
AFCB did not slow down but accelerated with Yann Kermorgant stretching Ipswich down the left and after an interchange between Surman, Ritchie and Pugh, the ball came to Ritchie in a great position to score but he missed his kick with the ball hitting his standing leg. Cook then played a cultured chip over Paul Anderson to start another AFCB move on nine minutes, up the left with Daniels and Pugh who had a strong shot saved by Bialkowski and Ritchie's follow up was also spectacularly saved. 

It was time to take a breather, because the Cherries had been breath taking up to this point. Cole Skuse and Tommy Smith started to wrestle some possession back and Daryl Murphy began to get a few touches. Ipswich won a free kick on 13 minutes on their right and while Francis cleared and Pugh collided with Kevin Bru, the danger was cleared. The game was settling down with the Cherries winning another corner before Cole Skuse had a shot deflected at the other end for an Ipswich corner. A big warning of Ipswich's aerial power was then shown as Daryl Murphy thumped his header against the bar on 21 minutes.

Nothing was going to slow the Cherries pursuit of the second goal though and Pugh was unlucky to see his shot blocked . Surman and Arter were enjoying quite a lot of supremacy in midfield. It was after the half hour that Skuse started to get more of an influence, but Ipswich were struggling to find any incision in the last third and on one occasion went from Bournemouth's box all the way back to their keeper. 

As we approached 39 minutes, a Cherries' break saw Francis go clear and race up the right before pulling back a cross which was met by a low, stooping, diving header from Andrew Surman, but it was safely handled by Bialkowski. The score could have been levelled then when Cook slipped and McGoldrick stole in down Bournemouth's left to see his effort parried by Boruc for a corner. From the resulting corner, Christophe Berra spotted a powerful header which Boruc had to tip over. There was just time for AFCB to get up the other end and see Pugh's shot saved, but a 1-0 lead at half time was a great position to be in.

Cherries FanCam: Ipswich fans Jane and Dianne
 talk to Cherry Chimes before the match.
AFCB subs at half time.

Chimes FanCam: AFCB fan Noel gives his half time assessment of the Cherries' performance.

Second Half
There were no changes at half time and Ipswich came out playing the stronger. A move down the left with Skuse and Murphy saw the ball centred to Teddy Bishop and while Tommy Elphick tried to reach the ball, with an outstretched leg, it reached Bishop who calmly slotted it home to make the scores 1-1 on 50 minutes. 

Bournemouth regrouped and Matt Ritchie thought he had broken the offside trap. While he sped on and heard the whistle finally go, he still smashed a shot just wide of the goal and was given a yellow card in return. A moment later though the Cherries were smiling again as Callum Wilson took on three players in the box and as he weaved his way deeper into Ipswich's defence his released ball found Matt Ritchie on the six yard box, and after readjusting his feet, he smashed home Bournemouth's second to retake the lead on 54 minutes.

The game seemed calm for a moment as both sides reassessed the situation. Berra picked up a yellow for a block on Wilson. That was about the last action for AFCB's no 13 as he held his hamstring and was subbed for Tokelo Rantie on 62 minutes. The moment that then changed the game came when Rantie was breaking into the box only for two Ipswich defenders to descend upon him and bring him down. Rantie went down in agony as the AFCB fans yelled penalty! Referee Michel Bull though looked away and carried on with the game. It seemed like at least a minute or so more before play was eventually stopped for Rantie to get some medical attention. After some nine minutes he was stretchered off with a suspected dislocated shoulder.

With Brett Pitman replacing Tokelo Rantie on 71 minutes the game began again. The incident did not seem to have affected the players too much and Arter played a good ball to Marc Pugh who shot from just outside the box. Bialkowski made the most unorthodox one handed save low down that I have seen in a long time, but he kept the powerful shot out. A moment later Tyrone Mings was given a yellow card for pushing players away after Ipswich had already been given a free kick. When the ball reached the left wing, Ipswich won another free kick and this one was much nearer to goal. The ball in was headed on by Daryl Murphy who seemed unmarked and the lead had gone again - it was 2-2!

There was only one team though looking to win the game in the last 20 minutes. Ipswich looked content with the draw and so the time wasting began with a few slowly taken throws and no hurry to restart play.

Mings was subbed by Jonathan Parr on 83 minutes, before Ritchie gave Boruc a lively back pass that kept everyone on their toes. Luke Hyman received a yellow for a foul on Pugh, but it wasn't until the 89th minute that AFCB came close to scoring again with Pugh firing wide. A sign of 12 minutes of extra time went up and the Cherries would have yet more chances to win the game. 

Sammon came on for Bishop on 92 minutes and AFCB started to apply more pressure with a corner and when Pitman found Arter in the box, Harry has a good chance but hit it straight at the keeper. McGoldrick also had an attempt fly well over, but Ipswich were hanging on in truth. AFCB created one last golden opportunity when Ritchie played in a cross from the right and Pitman spooned his shot over the bar!
Hand shakes at the end of the game.
Eddie salutes the crowd.
Players in front of the Ipswich fans.
AFCB still delight and frustrate in almost equal measure. Some of the intricate passing today and the control that Surman and Arter had on the game was a virtual strangle hold on Ipswich. Yet, two simple goals undid all the hard work of the Cherries and they have to find ways of stopping giving teams a life line in matches like this. That said it was a good performance and the Cherries look like they have bags of goals in them. On another day they might have won a penalty and I don't think Ipswich would have come back from 3-1 down, but the referee made his decision. Neither side was that enamoured by Mr Bull, but both teams played out a hard fought game and before the game I had predicted a draw. The worry is what kind of condition are Callum Wilson and Tokelo Rantie in now. 

Boruc, Francis, Elphick, Cook, Daniels, Ritchie, Arter, Surman, Pugh, Wilson (Rantie62, Pitman 71), Kermorgant

Camp, Smith, Rantie, Fraser, Gosling, Stanislas, Pitman

AFCB Ratings
Boruc 7, Francis 7, Elphick 8, Cook 7, Daniels 7, Ritchie 8, Arter 9, Surman 7, Pugh 8, Wilson 7, Kermorgant 8

Bialkowski, Chambers, Smith, Berra, Mings Booked (Parr 83), Bru (Bishop 17), Skuse, Hyam, Anderson, McGoldrick, Murphy

Referee Rating: Michael Bull 2/10 - let lots go first half then lost the plot second half. A poor performance.
Callum Wilson was still walking around after the match
 so hopefully he just had a dead leg. 
AFCB troop off a point gained.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Next period of games even more crucial now for Cherries

AFCB going into the next crop of games in a great position. The matches coming up though will be a serious examination of the club's staying power in the top six. It is apparent that most of the matches at the moment are seeing the top few sides having to play each other and there is a really goo opportunity to create gaps now on the following teams when they drop points. It is unusual for the league to be so tight at the top, but there really does not seem to be much to choose between the sides and I think it makes for a more exciting league than having a run away team.
Having worked hard to get in the top two places,
 the pressure is on now to try and keep up there.
The good aspect is that the Cherries face Ipswich at home as they have momentum coming into the match having won their previous match against Watford. This first match will be billed as another belter as Watford v Derby is the only other game involving two of the top six sides in the first week back after the international break.

The banana skin is surely the Millwall match as they have dropped off from their early season good start and are finding points hard to come by even if they are scoring regularly in games. Two homes games in a row though really set the Cherries up for a busy December and Eddie Howe will be looking for those to games as a springboard to go into the very difficult away match at Wolves. The game at Wolves promises to be one of the best away trips of the season and I am sure there will be a big following of Cherries that make the trip. Wolves are always known to have a boisterous crowd and its the kind of challenge that makes the Championship such a great league to be in.

So if you are going to the game today let's give the Cherries the best possible chance by supporting them loudly all through the 90 minutes. UTCIAD!

Friday, 21 November 2014

What makes Ipswich Town tick?

Ipswich Town are one of the teams that have crept up the league without much fuss or examination by the media of their title credentials. They are a team that perhaps like AFCB is not laden with individual stars, but have a great team work ethic and a great manager that knows what is needed to get out of the Championship. 

Recent results have been good for Ipswich as Watford and Wolves have found them too strong at home, while even on their travels Mick McCarthy's men have not been beaten since their match against Cardiff on 21 October, and before that you have to go back to 16 August when they faced Reading. They are a strong side who can be physical and AFCB will have to be prepared for that.
Ipswich players at Dean Court last season.
While David McGoldrick is often sighted as their key striker it is Daryl Murphy that has twice as many goals on 10 that AFCB will particularly have to keep close tabs on. Luke Hyam and Cole Skuze were missing from their last win but were behind some of Ipswich's strong performances this season. Tommy Smith at the back has also had a good couple of games and scored the winner against Watford. Ipswich have a deep squad and they do have some good young players but Jay Tabb, one of the older heads, has done well since he has returned to the side.

Ipswich are on a run of three wins in a row so it will be a very big test for the Cherries to keep their own unbeaten run going. Mick McCarthy hasn't scowled since the match against Huddersfield four matches ago when they let a two goal lead slip and the Cherries will have their work cut out to keep on top of the Tractor Boys. Yet, Mick McCarthy will know full well that AFCB have won their last four games at home.

Ipswich Away Form

AFCB Home Form

Match referee: Michael Bull

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Can Eddie get even more out of this team?

It has been an incredible last few weeks as an AFCB fan. You can't praise the players and the coaching staff enough for what they have already delivered this season and the good thing is that the season is still 17 games young and there is a lot more to play for.

It is beginning to dawn on fans that AFCB are in uncharted water. None of the teams that the club has had in the past have ever really knocked on the door of the top of the table position at this level. AFCB are playing the best football I have seen as a fan in some 35 years and the question now is can they improve still further? Just as ever, Eddie Howe seems to love the opportunity to develop players and while as outsiders we wonder how he can keep coming up with new ideas and extra patterns of play to add to the Cherries' game, he has already been getting more out of players. If there is another step up to come from what we have seen so far I am sure it will come.

Eddie is still looking to get more out of this team. 
For many of the players though it must be quite something to have grown with AFCB over the past few years. You can only beat the teams in the league that you are playing against in any one season apart from the cup games. I remember we used to sing "we are Premier League" even when AFCB were in League Two. The football now though is breathtakingly good and it is harder for AFCB to create headlines if they do beat major teams because it is not such a shock anymore.

If AFCB do manage to put away a Liverpool side in a few weeks time I believe it will be another injection of confidence that will kick on the Cherries' season once more. That game will be on the players' minds just like it is on the fans' minds during the international break, even if everyone tries to put it to the back of their minds. But such opportunities is what the players and the fans desperately want now. This squad needs to find out if it is good enough to take on the big occasion and come out on top. West Brom was a stepping stone but get ready because a bigger leap forward could be just around the corner!