Saturday, 31 January 2015

The Cherries are back on it

I had a good chat to quite a few fans before the Watford game to see what opinions were like among the home fans. Most of them were very unsure that AFCB would come out on top against Watford and I must admit that I did not want to give a pre-match score prediction until pressed (I went for a 2-1 home win if you want to know). That was somewhat to do with how well Watford had played in their last game and knowing that AFCB have not really turned it on at home for some time, but the Cherries were back on it last night.
It's good to get back to winning ways.
The match was rather overshadowed by the Angella sending off in the first minute, but it took AFCB some 35 minutes to get the lead, which underlines what a strong side Watford are to me. It was not all one-way traffic either. Watford had some half chances and Troy Deeney looked every much a quality striker in holding up the ball and running at AFCB's defence.

I have not heard too many protests about the penalty. Callum Wilson was equally as troublesome in Watford's box and I felt he upped his performance on the night. It is what AFCB needed and once Kermorgant had struck the penalty home to dispel his demons. That settled the whole team's nerves and I was not in much doubt that AFCB would go on to win the game then, even if Watford had shown that they can come from 2-0 down against a struggling side last week. This was AFCB at home though on quite a different proposition.

Some of the play in the second half was mesmerising and I was pleased, because I don't feel the home crowds have been treated to that so often as the away supporters. The Cherries were again back to their best at cutting through a team and the possession and shots on target really show that AFCB never stopped pressing. "It was a professional performance," said Eddie Howe. 

Cherry Chimes' Newsletter is out tomorrow with a highlight story of: 
'They don't like Tinpot doing well' 

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Angella turns redder than table topping Cherries in under a minute: 2-0

Match Report
AFCB 2 v 0 Watford
30 January 2015
Attendance: 10,904
Watford players about to take on AFCB and Tommy Elphcik before the coin toss.
The cameras certainly got a quick story at Dean Court last night. While it is rare to see a red card offence in the first minute of a game, Gabriele Angella probably wished he hadn't even walked out on the pitch. He was so caught out by Callum Wilson turn of speed that the referee decided that a red card was coming his way. A goal scoring opportunity denied? High feet? I'm not so sure but you are always pleased when the opposition go down to 10 men. It was just the confidence booster the Cherries needed and with Callum Wilson proving impossible to shackle, it was no surprise that Craig Cathcart made one lunge too many and conceded a penalty in the 34th minute and Yann Kermorgant smashed home the kick to give AFCB the lead. It was a lead they doubled in the second half when Matt Ritchie lashed home a ball  that fell to him on the right side of the penalty box and the Cherries had reasserted their dominance at the top of the table with a solid win over one of their promotion rivals.
The cameras are in place.
The flags are being waved.
And the teams are out.
More pictures around the stadium are up now on Match Day Gallery.

After the cup defeat against Aston Villa, AFCB fans expected lots of change and indeed there were but if compared with the last league game against Leeds the only change was Yann Kermorgant coming in for Brett Pitman who sat on the bench. Watford made two changes from their last game against Blackpool with Parades and Vydra dropped to the bench while Watson and Munari started for them.
Choosing ends.
Watford get ready.
The cameras buzz around AFCB.
All the main excitement came in that first minute when Callum Wilson was sent a through ball from Yann Kermorgant who had robbed Daniel Tozser in possession and Angella went in on Wilson and was undoubtedly adjudged to be Watford's last man, although Cathcart looked pretty much level with the incident when it happened. Referee Lee Probert perhaps just viewed it as a goal scoring opportunity prevented by a reckless challenge. Even though the home crowd were yelling "off, off, off!", I was still surprised to see a red card, but mightily pleased. Angella walked off extremely unhappy with the decision and kicked something in front of the dugout in frustration. 

AFCB could not make anymore from the incident though as the free kick from Kermorgant was deflected out for a corner. Watford reshuffled a bit to have a back four of with Cathcart and Hoban as the centre back pairing. Bournemouth did not settle though and Boruc made a couple of shaky clearances while Marc Pugh was losing the ball too often on the left wing. Watford had regrouped well and Odion Ighalo soon saw his first shot get blocked after he had won the first corner.

At the other end Heurelho Gomes came flying out of his goal to push away a cross from the right wing which would have seen Pugh in on goal if he had not made some kind of contact. This was the Championship's two best offences going head to head all right and Ikechi Anya shot wide next to the right of AFCB's goal. Things started to calm down more with just a header from Kermorgant and a long distance shot from Ighalo adding to the off target shots.

Artur Boruc was still being careless with his kicking but at least found touch, but Arter was misplacing passes as well and Watford were getting stronger as the first 20 minutes went passed. The Hornets were really putting in the tackles and while Ritchie always seemed on for a pass, Watford were closing down space well with 10 men. Matters livened up again after a period of sustained possession for AFCB which must have seen 20 odd passes, before Daniels crossed to Yann Kermorgant who took the ball down with one foot and then thundered a shot against the bar with his other foot! It would have been another goal of the season candidate.

Watford were still looking good on the break though, and when Steve Cook obstructed Troy Deeney on Watford's right wing his name went in the book. Watford went close from the resultant kick as AFCB did not clear well and the ball stayed around the D before a Watson's foot stabbed a shot that trickled past Boruc's right upright.

AFCB were taking charge of the game though and Charlie Daniels's crosses were causing a real problem for Watford. In fact, that was so much so that Daniel Tozsier diverted one of them towards Callum Wilson who got in front of Craig Cathcart and the Watford defender put out his right leg trying to get to the ball, but only ended up fouling Wilson and Lee Probert pointed to the spot. Kermorgant put his laces through the ball and hammered the penalty down the middle to give AFCB the lead on 35 minutes.

Not long after Harry Arter was shown the yellow tackle for a poor challenge on Gianni Munari. AFCB soon got back into their rhythm though and Gomes made a fumble from a Francis cross before it was hastily cleared by a defender for a corner. After a shot from Harry Arter that caused Gomes to make a low save and Charlie Daniels shooting wide, the best Watford could offer was to see Deeney have his shot blocked as we reached half time with the home team one up.
Half time - the subs warm up.

The first cup of the season on display. 
The Youth Alliance south west title goes to AFCB.

Half time score.
Second Half
Watford brought on Daniel Pudil for Munari at the start of the second half making their back four look like Anya, Cathcart Hoban and Pudil. They were pretty much occupied form that start of the second half with an early corner to defend and lots of Bournemouth possession. It was the left side with Daniels that was again stirring up trouble, and while he worked his way into the box and could not get a shot off, he passed to Matt Ritchie who shot wide after a great move. Just five minutes later though a cross from Pugh was headed on by Kermorgant to an on rushing Matt Ritchie who buried his shot, low and hard, past Gomes in the bottom left corner of the goal to make it 2-0 to AFCB. 

It was on the hour mark when Pugh made another pass to set Ritchie through, but he sadly fired wide with a cross come shot from the right. AFCB were doing everything right but just not stretching Watford quite enough to open the Hornets up completely. When they did break through and Simon Francis got in, Gomes brought off a world class save. Cathcart was still putting in full blooded challenges on Wilson and AFCB were going to have to work hard to get more distance in the scores between the two teams.

That could have happened on 65 minutes when Ritchie's curled cross found an outstretched Kermorgant, who headed the ball back across goal well, only to see Gomes pull off another amazing save to his left. Another opportunity saw Wilson struggle with Cathcart on the break and finally get past him only to shoot wide from just inside the box.

Watford then brought on Matej Vydra to replace Ighalo who had faded through the game. AFCB were still looking for more goals though and Daniels hit a solid shot that Gomes took on the ground in the mid-rift. Vydra made his presence felt as soon as he came on but as time approached the 80 minute mark Harry Arter was still showing some great skills in back heeling a pass through to Matt Ritchie who had his shot parried by Gomes.

Yann Kermorgant was then replaced by Eunan O'Kane and O'Kane similarly to Vydra started to win the ball a lot and started to really get Francis running out in support up the right wing. Even in the last 10 minutes things were falling into place well for the Cherries, although one slight concern was seeing Tommy Elphick get a yellow card for a miss-timed challenge. One of the best moments of the night though was still to come in the 88th minute when Pugh looked certain to score but Gomes pulled off yet another great save from close range! Adam Smith replaced Ritchie in the 89th minute with Ritchie taking an age to come off from the corner flag - nice one Matt.

Extra time arrived with AFCB still looking for a third goal. Eunan O'Kane won a free kick on the edge of Watford's box having received a hefty challenge from Pudi, but he seemed okay after treatmentl. Brett Pitman also made an appearance for the last minute or two in place of Callum Wilson, but the game was over by then it was 2-0 to AFCB.  
Lots  of stewards around the match officials and the Watford fans.
AFCB players say well done to Gomes who played brilliantly in Watford's goal.
Steve Cook and Simon Francis applaud the crowd.
Watford go off to see their fans.
Watford had their thunder taken away early with the sending off, but AFCB still had to make the extra man count. It took a while for the Cherries to hit top form but some of their play in the second half was back to their best. The Cherries were given a test that could have been harder on the night. The fact that it was made easier by the sending off should not cloud the fact that the Cherries exploited their advantage to the maximum and stopped a talented Watford team from scoring. Only Gomes kept the Cherries' score down. Three points clear at the top of the league - not a bad night's work.
Watford players were pleased with their support.
Callum and Matt were already wrapped up in their
coats having been subbed in the 90 minutes.
Francis and Arter enjoy the moment.
Marc Pugh wins the TV man on the match and he is interviewed along with Tommy Elphick.
What does it mean for AFCB get a win over Watford?
Everything, the Hornets' big win last season can be put to bed now. 
Boruc, Francis, Elphick, Cook, Daniels, Ritchie (Smith 89), Arter, Surman, Pugh, Kermorgant (O'Kane 77), Wilson (Pitman 94)

AFCB subs
Camp, Pitman, Smith, Stanislas, Fraser, Ward, O'Kane

AFCB Ratings
Boruc 5, Francis 9, Elphick 6, Cook 6, Daniels 9, Ritchie 9, Arter 6, Surman 7, Pugh 8, Kermorgant 7, Wilson 8

Gomes, Munari, Angella, Layun, Tozser, Deeney, Cathcart, Anya, Watson, Ighalo, Hoban

Watford Subs
Doyley, Savic, Pudil, Vydra, Bond, Menash

Referee Watch: Lee Probert 7/10 he was great for AFCB, but I don't think I'd be far off the mark if Watford fans would give 0/10. Take your pick.

Man of the match for me was Hurehlo Gomes even though he was on the losing side. As far as AFCB go I'd have to pick Ritchie just ahead of Francis and Daniels - all three had great games.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Are AFCB ready to put down a marker?

We have seen the Cherry climb to the top of the Championship and dish out some big scores against some of the struggling sides along the way, but beating the best sides is what is called for now. They don't come much tougher than Watford and this time they have Troy Deeney fit and able to play. AFCB's players will know of the danger that this Watford side possesses and yet if the league leaders can put down a marker now the rest of the teams in the Championship will be even more cautious when coming to Dean Court.
This match will really show if AFCB are likely to stay around the top for
a while or about to vacate the position.
A decisive win for either side is going to really be noticed. AFCB have not been in great form and they are in need of a boost. It might have been helpful if a new player had been signed this transfer window already, but the Cherries have not been in a position to do that. Watford have been recruiting though and I believe such matters do help the belief that a side is moving forward. Whether the Cherries need extra help at this stage is only something that Eddie Howe and Jason Tindall will really know. 

Going forward with what he has may still be the best option for Howe though if AFCB can just start to get a few big results. The defeats against Norwich and Leeds did not do as much damage as they might have done and to be honest AFCB must be pleased to still be leading the Championship. This game though is a real challenge to AFCB's credentials at the top. Two home defeats and three league defeats in a row will not sit happy with anyone at this crucial time and the message has to be that a win here reasserts the Cherries' prospects and gives them time to be positive ahead of the next two games, which will be no less pressurised. But this match against Watford is a defining moment in the Cherries season. 

Eddie Howe has been consistent with the teams he has played in the league of late, but I am hoping that he has some special plan for Watford. They will not be dominated easily and being prepared for an end to end game is likely to make this a great game to watch. One team can really land a big knockout blow tonight. Opening up a bigger gap on Watford again could just take some of the wind out of their lungs for their next few games. AFCB are at home. They have to make that advantage count or all the chasing teams will feel that the Cherries are running out of steam if they fall to a fourth home defeat. Wins are really massive now.

See you there tonight!

The season only really gets going now

It is a long way to the finishing line and the close proximity of so many teams at the top of the Championship doesn't make it any easier. Looking at the fixtures ahead of the Cherries everything looks pretty difficult once again. That is what a couple of defeats do to you in this league. Still, AFCB are still leading the way and to be there they have to have done better than anyone else this season. It's a new test now - 'Stickability'.

The pressure has always been on this team from the moment they started to climb up the league. But the added pressure of being shot at every week as league leaders is simply not something that AFCB's players are used to. I believe the FA Cup has been a good time to release some of that pressure and the match against Watford should now be something they can really focus on and look to get back to their best form.
Full houses all the way now.
The mood in training should be really one of concentration now. Watford are a hungry team that will be coming for the Cherries. That is not something that our players should feel overly cautious about or nervy, but they should see it as a great challenge that they can conquer. Watford are a team that AFCB have not yet beaten in the Championship and that heavy defeat at Vicarage Road last season is still lodged in the fans' minds, even if the players have done well to dispel it with the confident performance they put in up at WD18 last September. The Hornets are the kind of spoiler team that make this division a hard one to get out of. They have a knack of getting a goal out of nothing and keeping them quiet is not easy as they have goal scoring power just like the Cherries.

You can see why the cameras picked this game out to be televised. You are unlikely to see a nil-nil encounter for this one - there I have said it. Oh well, a draw would not be a big hiccup if it happens, but the home games are really important now and putting another top six side away is going to be massive in the table. 

Being an evening game will only add to a lively atmosphere and it is important that the fans help carry the team now. There will be a good following of Watford fans even on a Friday night and AFCB have to make home advantage count. Let's give our lads a big voice and get those three points. UTCIAD!

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Eunan O'Kane could still be the ace up AFCB's sleeve

I was really pleased to see Eunan O'Kane get a good game under his belt at Aston Villa. He has not featured nearly as much as last season and yet he has the talent to lift AFCB at times. I have missed his strong runs from midfield and his vision for goal. It just maybe that Eddie Howe has to try and find a way of getting the Irishman into the side in the crucial games against some of the top six, and if he does so I'll be pleased to see Eunan driving forward.
Eunan takes on Yann during the warm up at Villa Park.
There has been a move to play Eunan more as a defensive midfielder from the middle of last season, but he has lots of assets going forward as well. AFCB don't play a five man midfield very often now and because of their success as a 4-4-1-1 side they have not needed as much protection in front of the back four which has been a bit unfortunate for Eunan.
Eunan lines up a shot.
I still think he can do a powerful job in the centre of the park though, driving at teams and making important runs that split defences. I look back to the way he played against West Brom and Aston Villa and am starting to think that he is a player for the big games. That may be something that Howe thinks on now as we have some crucial fixtures coming up against Watford and Derby. The head injury may not give Eunan an immediate chance to oust any of the regular starters, but I would like to see him used more from the bench now, and would not be surprised if he could find himself playing more games as the season takes its toll on those who have been putting in a lot of work on the field.

Dan Golsing is out for a bit perhaps and that just might give Eunan the opportunity to stake a claim if he can get on from the bench.

Operation Watford

I was sitting on the sofa on Saturday with one eye on the FA cup matches and another on the progress of Blackpool against Watford. I was astonished that the Seasiders had gone one-nil up and even more aghast to see them double their lead before half time. Coupled with the Brighton result against Ipswich the other day, I though the teams down the bottom are really turning their form around now.
Yes it's them again. Let's try not to get stung again this time.
The sudden realisation that Watford were far from destroyed or deflated by that first half hit me soon enough, as the Hornets were no longer behind but 3-2 up and scoring goals for fun. A beating of 7-2 was the last thing I saw coming for Blackpool, but it reminded me that this is a Watford team that are perennial Championship contenders and even with their managerial changes they are one of the teams that are always going  to be in and around the top of this table. 

Watford will also be buoyed by the arrival of Ben Watson from Wigan Athletic as if they were not strong enough in midfield already. Vujadin Savic is a player I know less about but the Serb defender could also be available to face the Cherries having signed for the Hornets. Another defender coming in is the Mexican international, Miguel Layun who was at Granada, another Pozzo family club.

Having lost to Huddersfield, Watford have scored 13 goals in their last two games and Troy Deeney has only scored two of those. Odion Ighalo is the new golden boy, a Nigerian who has now scored 11 times this season. Udinese's loss is certainly Watford's gain with the help of the Pozzo family.

It will be AFCB fans first sight of Slavisa Jokanovic as Watford manager and yet I imagine that he will set up his team with the same emphasis on attack as his predecessors. This is a very difficult game and AFCB certainly have to be at their very best to come out unscathed. What I will say is we owe this Watford team a beating having bossed the game at Vicarage Road. It's time to start taking apart these teams that have a habit of getting the better of AFCB.

I can see the doom-mongers already gathering and saying that the Cherries' bubble has burst if this game is lost and the fact that it is on TV will give the media plenty of opportunity to say AFCB surely can't stay at the top of the table. Well, why not? The players have been good enough so far, but they will know that they need to beat Watford and Derby in a few weeks time now. It is pressure but we would surely rather have this kind of pressure than being in Wigan or Millwall's position. Be positive is what I would say to the players. Let's get a result and show the TV watchers how good AFCB really are.

Watford Away Form

AFCB Home Form

Transfer Watch
I have not really commented on another failed bid for Demarai Gray as it has been well covered, but I do wonder at what point the Cherries decide he is either an asset they can afford or just too expensive at Birmingham City's valuation. I know a lot of work goes into scouting players and AFCB are clearly keen on the player. It is hard to see where Gray would fit into the team straight away though and if the transfer would cost more than £3.5m you would expect that player to be much better than most of those already at the club.

Finally well done to the AFCB team that beat Hordean 1-3 to reach the semi-final of the Hampshire Senior Cup.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Getting used to the set up of a Premier League club

While Eddie Howe insists that AFCB is a long way from being a Premier League club it was great to see the kind of infrastructure that a club like Aston Villa has and the way they run their match day experience. It was my first time to Villa Park and I was impressed with just about everything I saw from the programme sellers who were happy to chat to the stewards and organisation of such a large number of supporters.
AFCB players looked quite at home on the Villa pitch.
I hope that AFCB fans can witness more days like this FA Cup Fourth Round tie in the years to come as it really was a day to take it all in and see just how a Premier League club operates. Going to the big stadiums should be part of every clubs development, because you can see things that are done differently and can take the good points home with you. AFCB may not go up this season but to be closer then the club has ever been before is already something to be proud of.
Not quite like Dean Court I suppose. Each to their own.
The most pleasing thing for me though was that everyone I spoke to was very welcoming and pleased to see AFCB fans enjoying the moment. It may have been seen as a simply a big day out by some, but it would have been quite something to be winners on the day and the cup exits of the big Premier League teams on the previous day probably did not help AFCB's cause too much.

While I think AFCB's media department can still teach Aston Villa a good thing or two about creating an award-winning MatchDay programme, the influence of the day was very much on enjoyment and it came across loud and clear. It is important that AFCB have something to aim for and I believe visiting grounds like Villa Park are just the incentive they need to really press on now in their Championship campaign this season.
Villa and AFCB joint scarfs were much in evidence.
Let's hope the balloons are out again at the end of the season.

Our day at Villa Park

It was a reasonably comfortable time to start our journey to Villa Park with all of us jumping into the car for a 10 O'clock start from Redhill. The journey would mean weaving a path around the M25, but for once it was not too busy and we were soon on the M40 heading towards Birmingham. Robert and Stephen were keen on seeing another new ground and I also could not wait to see the Holt End to see if it was as impressive as everyone had been telling me. 

To our delight we found ourselves on the A38M Expressway by 12.30pm and had an excellent view of the red bricked stadium as we past it on the road. I knew there were a good many streets not far from the stadium where we could park up without annoying the local residents or having to shell out on parking fees, and we were in plenty of time to take a gentle stroll through Aston Park and to take in the local setting.

We soon found ourselves walking along a pathway and down through a couple of subways before emerging at the the park gates and an avenue of trees that lined the way. Aston Hall was on our left and we took some time to learn a little about it before heading on down to the stadium.
Villa Park is a great place to walk about.
Aston Hall.
One of the Villa lions on the gates.
The first port of call was to find something to eat and the mobile burger vans looked perfect for a pit stop, but we wanted to have more of a look around first. While marvelling at the lions on top of the gates at the Holt End and then taking in the large red bricked walls, we could feel that the atmosphere was already building. 

We then started to walk down some steps to take in all sides of the ground from the outside. The Doug Ellis stand was next on our travels and we soon found lots of fans meandering up and down and rather a large amount of them were AFCB fans. We managed to keep to the pavement but as we reached the North stand and saw the line of Bournemouth coaches stacking up we thought we had better visit the club shop before the area was swamped with fans.
Stephen stands outside the Holt End terrace.
Not sure these big screens would quite fit in at Dean Court, but Eddie looks good on screen.
First though, I picked up a programme at one of the little seller booths. The programme seller said they had had Liverpool last week but felt that there were more FACB fans here today than Liverpool brought. He tried to offer me a bag with a couple of previous matches but I was only interested in the Villa v AFCB programme. The club shop looked very large from the outside but was no bigger than the AFCB shop when you got inside. The boys picked out a couple of their favourite items for sale like the flip flops and the dart board that you had to be 20ft tall to play on.
Do they have a beach in Aston? I think we could see
some AFCB flip flops in our shop next year.
I might have a problem retrieving a dart from double top!
Okay, history lesson. His name is William McGregor founder of
that little things called the Football League in 1888. You knew didn't you?
Our hunger was soon satisfied with a hot snack from one of the burger vans and we were all wondering how we could get one of the outside digital screens on the top of our car to take back to Dean Court.

I started to look for people to interview when I was approached by a couple of eager AFCB fans who had seen me with the camera and asked me if I would speak to them on camera - that was a first. cherry Chimes is getting recognised too easily these days, which is nice. I also needed to talk to some Villa fans and while many of them felt a bit nervy I did speak to a great young lad called Roy who knew rather more than the adults around him. 
It's nice to know we are in good company.
Aston Villa's crest.
Business was brisk at the club store.
Hello Fletch! Fancy meeting you here.
We had enough time to retrace our steps a bit and we bumped into Michael Dunne of All Departments along with two of my other friends, Damien Hill and Duncan Graham and their families. While we chatted away about the season so far and the match to come, it was not until 50 minutes before kick off that we made our way back to the Upper North stand. On the way we saw Steve Fletcher and Kelly Sommers with a multitude of young AFCB fans around them with the camera rolling.
Having climbed the couple of stairways to the vantage point of the stand we could take in the enormity of the pitch and the big screen. While the Villa mascots were busy at work there were only the keepers out on the pitch at first. It was also strange seeing 5800 AFCB fans already in place and yet hardly any Villa fans in the stadium. That situation soon changed though as the players were warming up and the atmosphere really started to build.
Looking down at the Holt End.
Super Fletch managed the stairs then.
AFCB start their warm up.
Aston Villa's players.
Villa try and make their big announcement.
Is everything bigger in the Premier League. Do the flags need to be that big? 
The teams are lead out onto the pitch.

Bournemouth fans were going through the multitude of songs and the volume certainly rose when Aston villa tried to make their special announcement on the big screen that Fabien Delph had signed a 4.5 year contract and was going nowhere. I was listening to the commentators on BBC WM radio who were struggling to work out what was happening as they could not hear over the AFCB chanting. Radio isn't good when you don't know what to say, apart from aren't the opposition making a lot of noise!

The noise got even louder when the teams came out and I felt it was like being at the Cup Final itself with the long walk to the half way line that both teams had to walk in two lines next to each other.  With flags waving and hearts beating faster, it was good to see Tommy Elphick do his customary pre-match routine and before we knew it we were eyes down for 90 minutes of football.

A Villa mascot on the move.
Tommy Elphick on his run to the goal posts.
I suppose the game went pretty much as I expected with AFCB having some chances and Villa looking to swat our players like annoying flies buzzing around their box, while always looking to make a killer strike themselves at our end. At 0-0 at half time I felt that the Cherries more than deserved to be going in even and were perhaps a shade unlucky not to be ahead. Could I see Villa scoring? Not really.

Sadly, the second half saw a different side of Aston Villa with Carles Gil moving out to the right wing and soon unleashing an unstoppable shot. If that wasn't bad enough the lead was doubled on 70 minutes and it looked like once again the big teams had too much for AFCB. The consolation goal that Callum Wilson did score was pleasing but annoying that it hadn't come sooner. I hope not too many of our fans missed AFCB's goal by leaving early. Villa had controlled the game well and deserved the win.

What was a little disappointing was the lack of support from the Villa fans. It would have been more fun if they had sang during the game and got behind their team. They have a great new signing in Carles Gil and whether they like Lambert or not he had got them through a good FA Cup tie. I expect they were content enough though that they had won.

Getting out of Villa Park was always going to be difficult with the road closures. Indeed, it took us the best part of an hour to get through the traffic jams and on to the open road, and when we did I got quite a warm feeling in seeing the 28 AFCB convoy of coaches being passed one by one. I think I was still overtaking the one leading the way at 6.40pm! I am sure that most AFCB fans had some good memories of the day even if the result was not what we wanted. I came away thinking, well there wasn't much between those two sides and had AFCB scored first it could have been a very different day.

Ranti Watch
Sadly the Africa Cup of Nations is over for South Africa and Tokelo Rantie after a 2-1 defeat to Ghana. TK came off on 70 minutes when the score was 1-0 to South Africa, but two goal in the last 20 minutes knocked Bafana Bafana out. We should see TK back at Dean Court soon. 

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Counter-attacking with quality

The Villa game reminded me that the top teams really do break with quality. Both Villa goals came on the counter-attack and the speed and movement off the ball as well as the passing was fatal for AFCB on both occasions. Eddie Howe said that there were things that AFCB could have done better, but when on the counter Villa exposed the spaces really well and it is something that I feel AFCB have also done well on occasion this season.
Aston Villa scored with quality strikes.
You don't score 57 goals in a season and not have an ounce of quality about your forward play. AFCB were close to getting a breakthrough on more than a couple of times and it is always said that you need to take your chances. It is also a question of knowing when to try your luck though and sometimes it is the sheer audacity of attempting to try the near impossible that results in a goal. Carles Gil had no right to shoot and score from where he did. He probably would say it was no fluke, but how many times would he hit that shot and get a goal I wonder?
Callum got his own back on the complaining Shay Given with a last minute goal. 
The balance between overplaying things and chancing your arm is sometimes an aspect of the game that the Cherries don't always excel in, but I am sure it is the way they are instructed to play. If Arsenal are also accused of the same thing then can we really complain? I don't think it is a case of trying to score the perfect goal in AFCB's case, but when the passing is as good as it was for AFCB's away goal against Norwich City this season, it makes the task of finishing the move much less testing.

Against lesser opposition AFCB have been able to steal in a little easier and it is good to know that they have scored against top teams such as, West Brom and now Aston Villa this season. It's something they can take into their next encounter with a Premier League team. The players have more idea of what is required and that has to be of benefit, becasue they can also take that knowledge into the games against fellow Championship sides.