Saturday, 28 February 2015

AFCB will come good with returning players

Listening to the match at Nottingham Forest you could tell that the Cherries were benefiting from the energy and speed of Adam Smith and Ryan Fraser on the left side. Eddie Howe has really kept with the first 11 for a long time without making many changes, but the season is long and the number of games has been taking its toll on the Cherries.
Whoever starts in red and black we will give them our full support.
It is arguable that Harry Arter got his suspension at just the wrong time and that Shaun MacDonald has not been able to fit straight into his shoes straight away with such direct runs at goal. But things are about to change with players now coming back into contention. Harry will of course be fired up and will be desperate to get back on the pitch.
Harry Arter should be back in favour.
Elliott Ward awaits his chance.
The loan window has not been a great help to the Cherries and probably won't be now. With Tokelo Rantie having got a few minutes at Forest and with Yann Kermorgant likely to be back in the squad, the team should start to look strong again. Whether Yann is feeling good enough to start will probably be Eddie's biggest decision and if Brett Pitman keeps his place the fans will want to see him running his socks off and having plenty of efforts on goal. 

The decision of who to play and who to leave on the bench will be quite a hard one for the Blackburn match. I have not heard any calls for Elliott Ward yet, but with the manner of the goals that have been going in against AFCB it won't be long before Elliott does get a start if the current players can't keep some clean sheets. 

Hang in there AFCB fans the race is not over yet. At least I was pleased to see that our little poll about the next two matches indicates that most have you are still expecting the Cherries to bring home some points against Blackburn and Wolves. But I also see that there is a tie for the second most popular amount of points between 4, 3 and 0 points so there is still quite a bit of fear that the disappointing run might not be over yet. You still ahve a bit of time to vote if you have not yet.

Let's see if they can make a good start in getting the first three points against Blackburn. Our team really need a 12th man today and all of us have to play our part in that - sing up for the lads. UTCIAD!

Cherry Chimes March Newsletter - out tomorrow!
Tomorrow I'll be releasing the Cherry Chimes March Newsletter which picks over the top stories from the blog this past February. 

You can read extra posts there entitled 'Oh no! reality check' and 'Money, money, money' which asks is that what AFCB's success has been really down to.

To subscribe to the Newsletter sign up here

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Friday, 27 February 2015

Why can't Blackburn convert cup form to the league?

Gary Bowyer must be wondering what he has to do to get his side playing as well in the league as they are doing in the FA Cup. I am sure the Blackburn fans want to go as far as they can in the cup, but sitting in 10th in the league means they have lots of work to do if they are to challenge for a play-off place now. 

Even a gap of 15 points can be cut back and last season Blackburn Rovers put in a good run towards the end of the season, but it would be a major shock if they do that again, especially as their recent away form has not been encouraging. They have not won away in the league since beating Nottingham Forest at the end of October. It's a different story when they play at home and in the FA Cup, but that is not going to get them a play-off spot.
Hopefully Rovers won't bring their cup form to Dean Court.
If Blackburn are to challenge they have to beat the top sides and they had the perfect opportunity to start that in midweek when they met Norwich City, but they lost the game. AFCB will be another game where they will need to try and take points off a team that is above them. They'll need Rudy Gestede and Jordan Rhodes to keep putting away their chances, but it has been the two strikers who have kept Rovers from falling further behind in the race for a top six finish. Some other Blackburn players are going to have to start finding the net if they are to really push on now.

A few injuries to Ben Marshall, Chris Taylor and Corry Evans have not been helpful, but everyone is getting injuries to their team. One player that will be keen to get game time is Tommy Spurr who only made his first start of the season against Blackpool last weekend, but he did not feature against Norwich in mid-week.

The cup run could be taking more out of Rovers than is good for them of course. With Jay Spearing, Tom Cairney and Grant Hanley in their side there is plenty of fight and experience, but succeeding in cup and league campaigns is going to be very demanding for them. In some ways the match they face against AFCB will be a good prelude to the Liverpool cup match. Their players will be playing for their shirt in that game so the Cherries should be aware that Rovers are going to be doing everything to improve their away record, because they can't afford to lose any more ground on the top six in the Championship.

It seems that set-pieces have been causing them problems of late and perhaps the Cherries can cause them problems with their corners. But beating Rovers will be a difficult task and AFCB must make the most of home advantage, which they couldn't do against Derby and Huddersfield.

Send in more score predictions for the match and I'll post them up on Cherry Chimes.

Rovers leak goals on the road

AFCB have been the top scorers in the Championship for quite a while now. We have seen some big away wins but the Cherries have found it hard at home to find the form they were able to show at Blackpool and Birmingham earlier in the season. I am not sure why that is but the visit of Blackburn Rovers just might open the door to a few more goals because Rovers are not a team that you would put money on to keep a clean sheet away from Ewood Park. 

You have to go back to 28 December to find the last clean sheet for Rovers when they were at home to Middlesbrough, but away from home that stretches back even further to September when they had a 0-1 win over Fulham.
Defences on both sides might be struggling when
 Blackburn Rovers come to Dean Court.
If AFCB are to score well though they will need more accuracy in front of goal than we saw in the last home match against Huddersfield. That game saw AFCB hit 20 shots and seven were on target. In recent games the Cherries have been creating around 20 chances and yet you have to go back to mid-December when AFCB smashed Cardiff 5-3 to find a home game when AFCB scored more that two goals. 

Getting back to the cut-throat goal action that saw the Cherries quickly climb the table is now what Eddie Howe needs to find again. The team has become a little tentative of late with its passing at the start of games at home and it would help the team to start positively and really get Rovers on the back foot from the off. The Cherries had a relatively good first half at home against Huddersfield and Derby, but as we know it is about setting the tempo and finding the net and Eddie Howe has the players coming back now to change things if need be.

All Departments rakes over the fall out from the Cherries defeat at Nottingham Forest last Wednesday night. I'm hoping that he can find some positives despite the Cherries recent dip in results. You can listen by visit the All Departments' website or scroll down the right side panel on Cherry Chimes to the All Departments' logo and click on the sound bar.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

AFCB fans: we need you now more than ever!

The message from Eddie Howe could not be clearer. However disappointing the defeats against Brentford and Nottingham Forest have been, it is not the time to desert this team that has had a terrific season up until this points. The next two home matches against Blackburn Rovers and Wolverhampton Wanderers can repair much of the recent damage if the fans support the team and give the players the encouragement they deserve.

Eddie Howe asks for your support.
It was a defeat last night that was hard to take because the team had been so dominant. We know that it is the two boxes at the end of the field though where you must do your best work, and that is where AFCB have been falling down recently. That is little conciliation, but it is just something that the Cherries need to improve on.

"I just hope we can take heart and confidence from our display as results don't tell you what the game was like," said Eddie Howe. "We became desperate to score and that in turn led to bad decisions."

The thing is that the Cherries did get the all important game and that should have made it easier to control the match. More composure is something that Eddie Howe has asked for even when the team needs to find a goal. It was the last message that was really a call to arms for all Cherry supporters that things are not over yet.

"My message to every Bournemouth fan is we need you now probably more than we have at any stage of the season and we can either fade away or come back stronger," said Eddie Howe. "We want to come back stronger and we are going to need the supporters to play their part in that."
AFCB need a packed house for the Blackburn game
 to get their promotion challenge back on track.
The team tried really hard to put recent disappointments behind them at Forest and while it did not work out as planned the team just needs a result, no matter how scrappy just to feel good about things again. There will be a fair amount of criticism about the lack of points of late but come the next two home games AFCB fans have to make Dean Court a noisy stadium and show some defiance like the team will be wanting to do on the pitch to those outsiders who have written the Cherries off. There are still lots of games to go and everything can turn quickly with just a few results. Getting that first result is what AFCB need now. UTCIAD!

How many points do you think AFCB will get from their next two home games - vote on the side panel poll before Saturday.

The Cherries hit the wall in the Championship race

The Cherries have had a good run up until February, but questions are being asked about the depth of the squad and the lack of strengthening at the crucial point of the season. A present run of four games without a win has seen the Cherries topple from first to fourth and if anyone was in any doubt it is clear that it will not be an easy ride to get an automatic promotion or play-off place. The Cherries now have company and they have to show real character now.

The defeat at Nottingham Forest last night was gruelling because the team was not clinical in front of goal and were unable to keep the ball out of their own net when Forest had time to plan their attacks from set plays. There were some good points in that the flowing football was back right from the start and the early goal came, but the second goal did not come on a night that really shook the Cherries' resolve to keep pressure up on other teams around them. The second goal was right on half time again and AFCB are struggling to turn games around once they fall behind.
The Cherries have to get organised.
Artur Boruc did not have a bad game and was not overly busy, but the back four did not find the level of performance that they needed against a clever Forest team who as soon as they did get ahead, shut up shop. Whether Eddie Howe looks to find something to add to the Cherries game or not gong forward what the team must find is a way to stop the goals going in. Concentration levels are just not high enough when set pieces arrive and it is like shooting yourself in the foot when that happens so regularly. It's costly and AFCB are really paying now.

Looking at the table though, the Cherries are still in contention.  If there were such a thing as a wall in this Championship marathon, the Cherries must have hit it. But there is no time to reflect too deeply, the next game is coming up on Saturday. They need to wise up fast though because the teams they face at home in Blackburn and Wolves are going to have seen how fragile AFCB are at times and that is now a cause for concern.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Forest's 2-1 come back leaves Cherries down in fourth

Match Description
Nottingham Forest 2 v 1 AFCB
25 February 2015
Attendance: 20,637 (including 618 AFCB fans)

Having seen their league position slip to fourth this week, AFCB really needed a result against a Nottingham Forest team that have found themselves under Dougie Freedman. AFCB may have shown Forest a hard time in the first half but they still came in at half time 2-1 down. Andrew Surman had put in a great curling shot to give the Cherries a flying start but all the good work was wiped away by more failings to stop corners and free kicks. It was another match where the Cherries had promised much but allowed Forest to get back into the game and hold out.

Eddie Howe surprised everyone by making three changes to the AFCB starting 11. In came Adam Smith, Ryan Fraser and Brett Pitman. Yann Kermorgant suffered a family bereavement in the week and missed the game while Charlie Daniels was rested and Marc Pugh and Matt Ritchie moved to the bench. It was perhaps a bit of a risk to bring in that many players, but the team needed fresh legs and a jolt try and get them back to winning ways. It was time for some of those players who had been missing out on start to come to the fore and show that the Capital One results were no fluke. While Ritche had been a doubt with a leg strain after the Brentford match it was a shock to see Marc Pugh on the subs bench having scored and played okay at Griffin Park. Most fans will have been pleased to see Rantie on the bench though.

Jason Tindall with the team news.

Match Description: Listening to Willo and Kris Temple on BBC Radio Solent
The Cherries are in their blue kit tonight. Burke is running at Smith and gets a cross in but AFCB have a free kick. Adam Smith has the ball on the left. Gary Gardner clips Smith and AFCB have a free kick. Fraser tried to get on the ball quickly but it has to be retaken.

Ritchie has a shot that is deflected behind for a corner. Darlow has to tip the ball away from Elphick's header. Surman curves the ball in from 25 yards! Just two minutes gone 0-1. Left footed curler - Darlow no chance. Pitman now gets another corner off of Lichaj.

Fraser deep to Francis and Forest clear the ball for a throw. Wilson gets his first touch and now Surman to Smith. Past Burke and Lichaj defends. The Cherries have a free kick as Wilson is fouled. Fraser to take on 6 minutes. Ritchie, deflected and wide! Another corner.

It's taken short. Surman square to Fraser and Elphick and Fraser crosses and it is headed clear and Lichaj gets the ball up to half way. Ritchie has Francis outside him but it's headed away. Adam Smith and a shot from Fraser is saved by Darlow down to his right.

Darlow kicks the ball at Wilson! Wilson has the ball and shoots wide. It was a goal keepers kick out that went horribly wrong. Lucky escape for Darlow.  Fraser now and Pitman Lascelles makes a clearance. "Total domination of the ball," by the Cherries says Willo. 

Lansbury catches Fraser late on half way. Lichaj heads the ball away on the left wing. Cook puts the ball out by mistake. Forest now. Chance for Lansbury but a poor delivery and Boruc catches the ball. Smith wins a header. Lansbury and Osborne onto Fox and Antonio running at Francis and looks for Blackstock. The ball is back on half way now.

Fox back to Gardner. Smith is caught and wins a free kick. Forest have the ball. Lichaj and Burke back to Lichaj around Fraser. Cook misses his clearance and Antonio can't capitalise. Down the right with Francis and Lansbury clears to Francis. Surman plays it too strong through to Darlow.

Cook wins the ball and Ritchie gets possession. Smith misses his tackle and Chris Burke wins a corner. Osborne to take. It is at the back post with Lascelles but cleared to Osborne. Antonio and Ritchie gets a toe in and Lascelles shoots and wins a corner thanks to the assistant ref. Boruc punches away. Osborne and Pitman slides in for another corner.

It's been smashed in by Laschelles! Blackstock had the first go and Lascelles had the next go from 14 yards and it flashed past all the AFCB players - 1-1. "AFCB's tendency not to hold onto a lead strikes again," says Kris Temple. 21 minutes gone.

Ritchie plays a ball to Fraser and he is blocked by Lichaj. Wilson challenges Gardner and Anotonio is offside. AFCB give the ball away. Blackstock loses the ball though to Boruc who is out quickly. Adam Smith and Surman is nudged by Lansbury. AFCB have a throw. MacDonald start off again. Ritchie and Francis. Free kick to AFCB 25 yards out. Ritchie stands over the ball. It has been headed away for a corner.

Fraser takes the corner to Pitman whose header loops over the bar. Burke is tackled by Smith. Lichaj and Antonio, but Boruc gets there first. Forest win a free kick. Cook stops Burke on the wing. Approaching the half hour.

A free kick to Forest. Lascelles can't control the ball and Surman sees it out for a goal kick. Steve Cook's diagonal ball to Ritchie and Surman has it and Fraser, but Collins clears. Surman to the left and Smith and Lichaj puts a late tackle in and is yellow carded, 32 minutes gone.

Fraser delivers the ball and it breaks out to Ritchie and Francis, but Pitman heads over. "The pitch seems to be helping us we are moving it around much quicker," Willo.

Burke has a shot from 25 yards but it comes off Adam Smith and straight into Boruc's arms. Wilson and Fraser and Smith on the overlap wins a corner. Darlow flaps and wins a free kick. Osborne looks for Antonio who sets up Blackstock and Boruc makes a good save! "I think that is only the third time they have been able to applaud their team," says Willo.

Smith and Blackstock fouls Adam Smith in the corner. Forest have a two man wall. Matt Ritchie has a shot blocked and Collins clears behind for a corner. Fraser into the box and Surman can't control the ball. Adam Smith has been penalised by taking a throw too far back! The throw is given to Forest.

There is five minutes to half time. Lichaj takes the throw. Adam Smith across to Francis and Fox battles but Ritchie is pushed out of play. It's a goal kick to AFCB. Forest playing 4-1-4-1. Smith into the edge of the box. Bad ball by Surman. And Antonio shoots at Boruc and it's out for a throw.

Antonio is fouled by Francis 20 yards out and left of centre. Lansbury and Fox are near the ball, just a minute and a half left and Lansbury has scored over the wall. It's 2-1. For the second game in a row AFCB have conceded right on half time. Willo and Temple don't think it should have been a free kick in the first place. The referees are really not helping AFCB at the moment.

Two minutes of added time. Gardner fouls Fraser. Ritchie puts a cross in but Darlow smothers it. "Forest are 2-1  up,"says Willo. "I don't know how they have done it, but they are."  Lansbury is fouled by Adam Smith. Osborne to Fox and Francis blocks the ball. It's half time.

AFCB have had 75 per cent of possession and 10 shots, three of them on target. Forest have had eight shots and five on target. The Cherries have had seven corners to Forest's three. Set-pieces are what have done the cherries in so far tonight.

Second Half
Wilson tries to get a cross over but it is over with Pitman and Francis. Wilson rolls Collins and Osborne puts the ball out. Smith into Wilson but Garnder deals with it. Smith misplaces a pass to Gardner, but AFCB have a free kick. Fraser on the right and the cross goes into Darlow. 

Burke on the nearside and Adam Smith is adjudged to have fouled Chris Burke. Not really a free kick. Still Forest again have a set piece. Lansbury fires wide of the right post. Osborne is tracked by MacDonald and Fox. Surman now to Ritchie who is now on the left. Fraser into Surman and Fraser's shot or pass goes out for a throw.

Forest have a free kick in their own half. Blackstock and Smith goes to ground. Free kick to the Cherries. Fraser down the right and Francis into Surman, eight minutes of the second half gone. Elphick puts the ball out. Blackstock wins a free kick off of Tommy Elphick.

Of the line by Adam Smith! The far post again and it's out for a goal kick. It remains 2-1. Ritchie out to Smith and Ritchie back post to MacDonald and Pitman on the volley is well over. A poor cross from Smith curls out of play.

Wilson holds off Collins. Cook lets the ball bounce and back to Boruc. Elphick clears. Wilson on a run and Ritchie. Not a great cross.

Fraser and the cross, Surman heads wide. Darlow is wasting time with his re-starts. An hour gone. Cook to Smith. Surman comes forward and MacDonald. Now Fraser into Wilson onside and gives a free kick away. 

Elphick wins a free kick. Smith now wins a throw. Surman and MacDonald. Ritchie and Lascelles clears.
Francis crosses and Antonio at the near post Wilson went down but no penalty. Osborne wins a free kick.

Pitman is fouled by Gardner. Pugh and Daniels are getting ready to come on. 19 minutes into the second half. Forest defending very deep. Ritchie against Lichaj and Forest win the throw. 

Fraser 25 yards out and blocked by a defender for a corner. Fraser left footed too high. Daniels and Pugh come on and Fraser and Smith come off. Almost an immediate impact from the subs. and Daniels shot is deflected for a corner. Pugh tried to get in but it's out for a goal kick.

Mancienne comes on for Chris Burke. Fox shanks the ball out of play. Surman finds Pitman. Pugh beats Lichaj and Francis and MacDonald. It runs for Ritchie and Surman but the ball goes behind. Forest not getting out of their own half.

Osborne gets through and shoots at Boruc. Mancienne turns into trouble. Pugh runs into too many red shirts. Surman and Ritchie to Francis and Pitman glanced it away from Pugh. Wilson little lay off lands up with Darlow, 70 minutes gone.

Osborn is clipped by Francis. Free kick 30 yards out. Blackstock is subbed and on comes Fryatt. Lansbury shoots too high. Rantie is warming up. Surman to Wilson and the ball runs out.  Fryatt chases the ball but Elphick wins the ball and it comes away with Cook.

Pugh step over and a throw to Forest. Tokelo Rantie comes on for MacDonald. Forest with Fryatt but it's out for a throw. Pitman is in midfield now. Darlow gathers the ball ahead of Wilson. 12 and a half minutes left. Daniels and Pitman running on but it's on the roof of the net. 

Francis puts the ball out by mistake. Lansbury is onside but Boruc is out first. Cook and Daniels. The ball is put out by Fox. Pugh and Fryatt. AFCB have a throw. Cook to take. Elphick and Francis in there but it's Antonio on the break and Daniels holds up Antonio. Surman looks for Wilson but Darlow is there. Darlow is still wasting time moving the goal kick from one side to the other.

Eight minutes left. Elphick and Francis. Rantie back to Elphick. It's too high for Wilson. "We've not seen 
enough of Wilson tonight," says Kris Temple. 

The final ball is still lacking for AFCB. Elphick cannons the ball against a Forest player but the ball comes back off of Tommy. Fox has the throw in. Pugh comes forward with Lansbury the only player left up field. Daniel's cross does not reach Wilson. Pitman out to Ritchie, back post and it's hacked away.

Lansbury and Osborn and Fryatt. AFCB have the throw. Daniels cross is taken by Dalow. Antonio is subbed for Veldwijk.

Cook gives the ball away Veldwijk shoots. Just four minutes of added time. Matt Ritchie on half way. Throw to AFCB. Pugh to Wilson and Surman and Francis, back to Ritchie. Francis has the ball back. Veldwijk fouls Cook. Just two minutes left. Francis to Pitman and Daniels. Fryatt, Osborn to Fryatt in the corner.

Pitman loses the ball. Fryatt shoots wide. Rantie and a free kick to Forest.

Another disappointing result for the Cherries. That was not half the story though as AFCB were frustratingly good at the start but Forest stood still and took their set piece chances to leave AFCB four games without a win. The Cherries have just lost the knack of winning and it is now looking like the Cherries are needing some favours from other teams to not start falling out of the top six. There were no shots on target in the second half for the Cherries and they can't keep a clean sheet. In the end Forest had seven shots on target compared to AFCB's three.

Boruc, Francis, Elphick, Cook, Smith (Daniels 65), Ritchie, MacDonald (MacDonald 76), Surman, Fraser (Pugh 66), Pitman, Wilson.

Camp, Daniels, Ward, Gosling, Stanislas, Pugh, Rantie

Nottingham Forest
Darlow, Lichaj, Lascelles, Collins, Fox, Gardner, Burke (Mancienne 67), Lansbury, Osborn, Antonio (Veldwijk 89), Blackstock (Fryatt 71)

Forest Subs
Mancienne, Wilson, Fryatt, Veldwijk, Paterson, Vaughan, de Vries

Is the pressure getting to the Cherries?

It is easy for those outside the club looking in to suggest from recent results that the Cherries have been cracking under the pressure and are slowing falling off the pace at the top of the table. That is exactly what some have been hoping for as the big clubs line up for a go at winning the Championship. Yet, we have seen this Cherries side dig in when results have gone against them and there is good reason for believing that they still may be a front runner in the race for the Championship title.
AFCB have to be on it from the start against an inform Forest side.
AFCB are in need of a big result following the results last night. The draw against Huddersfield is still hanging around on some fan's minds and it would be good to dispel that disappointment along with the Brentford game by getting a win up at Forest. So while the Forest match is seen as a difficult one, I guess it is these kind of matches that the players should want to do well in as it would not be a big surprise if they were pushed out the way by one of the big clubs now. The Cherries need to show that they are resilient and are not shaking under the pressure of Derby, Middlesbrough and Ipswich having over taken them and Norwich, Watford and Brentford all coming up on their heels!

Eddie Howe needs to steady things down really quickly now. There has been so much good work this season that it would be sad to see things deteriorate from here on, but if AFCB can't cope with the pressure now they certainly would not be ready for the Premier League. It is a test of character and putting some solid training sessions down to build that confidence and take it out on to the pitch. The Championship is a battle and I hope AFCB can start to fight harder for a top place.

A poor match at Forest will just heap more pressure on the Cherries for their next home game against Blackburn Rovers, so a good display up at Forest is now a major test of this team and whether it is being unlucky or is starting to struggle. Eddie Howe claims that the side is still making chances, but it's the points that are important even if the team does not play well. Safe journey if you are travelling to the game tonight. UTCIAD!

Player News: Matt Ritchie faces a late fitness test and my find that Ryan Fraser did enough to keep him on the bench tonight.

The De
velopment Squad played well, but went down 2-1 against a Gillingham side yesterday. 

AFCB have to take the game to Forest

It is going to be a very difficult game for AFCB to get any points from at the City ground. I hope that Eddie Howe asks the team to be solid in that first 20 minutes and not give anything away as they try and grow into the game. Having lost the four game unbeaten run at Brentford and been fallible to conceding soft goals, it is important that AFCB get back to not gifting easy results to other teams.
AFCB will have to quell a large partisan crowd at Forest.
Forest will be buzzing at home on a Wednesday night having won convincingly against Bolton at the weekend. Dougie Freedman has had just the start he would have hoped for from his home games and they are on a bit of a role. Chris Burke is in great form for them and even without Britt Assombalonga the goals are flowing for Forest who have scored 11 goals in their last three games. What a time to have to go up to their ground!

Such is AFCB's luck, but you have to go to such places and play with grit and determination if you want to get out of this league by being promoted. These are the games that we have longed for as supporters. They have meaning because AFCB are in a position to have a special season and beating Nottingham Forest is always one of the best feelings that players and fans can experience in the championship.  

Whether Eddie makes changes to the team will be very much in the minds of fans. I would like to see Dan Gosling now if he is ready to go and I think the team needs an injection of positivity to get them back on the winning road - Ryan Fraser. Artur Boruc will feel more under pressure now and Eddie could well bring Lee Camp back into the starting 11. There is a fine line that Eddie will have to tread over whether the players who have got one point from the six on offer in the last two games can pick themselves up or if further change is required. Such decisions will be even more critical to get right now as the games start disappearing fast.

Forest Home Form

AFCB Away Form

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Are Forest headed in the right direction?

Last week saw Forest chairman Al Hasawi clarify what Dougie Freedman's contract was in terms of 18 months but a review in the summer. It may not be that pleasing to some that the chairman had not been initially clear that the 18 month contract was subject to an early review, but at least everyone at the club, fans and the media now know what the deal is. A bit of transparency is perhaps something that the Forest fans could do more with as there must be lots of questions why this club is still not achieving as much as seems possible at the start of every season.
AFCB have had their successes against Forest.
Dougie Freedman has already said that there is a lot of work to do at the club and that he can't work miracles overnight. They struggled to finish off a poor Blackpool side away from home but they have shown that they are playing great again at the City ground in front of their huge banks of home fans. Dougie appears a stabilising influence with a calm manner that could be very good for Forest. He never over dramatises what happens on the pitch and has shown when he was at Crystal Palace that he can manage well at this level. I think Forest have made a great appointment and if they pull together they can still achieve much this season.

Forest's motivation must be matched by AFCB. The feeling of defeat will need to be eliminated quickly or the team will start feeling that its grip on a promotion place is slipping. The Cherries are still right in there and it will be a massive lift if they can get a result up in Nottingham. AFCB usually do well when they are unfancied and at the moment it is likely that Forest will be favourites for this game. Cool heads and a backs against the wall mentality could serve AFCB well in this match.

You can also read what Nottingham Forest site Seat Pitch had to say about Nottingham Forest ahead of tomorrow's match on the Rival Lines tab.

Happy Birthday to Ryan Fraser - 21 today!

Pearce should have been given more time, says Forest fan Seat Pitch

Rival Lines

Match preview
Nottingham Forest v AFCB
Blogger Interview: Seat Pitch

I had the pleasure of asking Seat Pitch blogger Pat what he thought about Dougie Freedman's appointment and how Nottingham Forest might go about the match with AFCB. Seeing how the team played against Wigan and Bolton at home it looks like AFCB have a big job on their hands.

CC: Do you think Stuart Pearce had run out of ideas and were you sad to see him go?

SP: Injuries to key players, like last season, have hurt us. But, of course, we shouldn’t - and can’t - be dependent on the likes of Andy Reid, Chris Cohen and Jack Hobbs. That said, Pearce seemed to struggle with a Plan B and, ultimately, that seemed to be his downfall.

Many Forest fans, myself included, had hoped it would work - and the club would finally have some stability. Any manager should have a whole season before being judged and I think Pearce deserved that. The man is a live, breathing City Ground legend - this article on Seat Pitch pretty much sums it up:

CC: Forest have not had the best of luck in picking their managers of late. Does Dougie Freedman stand a good chance of getting it right or is there a more deep routed reason why the team has not been challenging at the top of the Championship?

SP: There is something deep-routed at Forest that seems to have hampered our chances for years… maybe it’s the expectation, maybe it’s the history, maybe it’s just the lack of a real plan for progress. Actually, it’s largely that - at the moment we’re just chucking money around and changing managers and hoping we’ll get lucky. Freedman could be the man we need, or it could be another false dawn - we’ll find out if he lasts beyond the summer.

CC: You have had your fair share of injuries this season do you think that has hampered Forest's progress much?

SP: As I said, losing Reid, Cohen and Hobbs early in the season halted our impressive start - without them it became apparent we had no leaders on the pitch, no creativity without Reid, no energy without Cohen and no defensive resolve without Hobbs. And now we’ve lost Britt Assombalonga for a year as well.

CC: Are you disappointed about the way the club has been handling its finances that resulted in an embargo (now lifted) and failure to meet FIFA's Financial Fair Play rules?

SP: We’ve basically ignored FFP for the past three seasons thinking we’d somehow get promoted and pretend it didn’t exist. Except it’s caught up with us now and we’re under a transfer embargo until (at least) January 2016. As you can imagine this a little bit inconvenient for a club desperate to get promoted. The financial results due this week won't be pretty.

CC: Can you see some positive things about the team that you like since Dougie Freedman has been brought in - the Wigan game was a good home win wasn't it?

SP: The Wigan game, albeit against poor opposition, showed what we can do over 90 minutes - something we’ve struggled to do all season. Likewise, the 4-1 win against Bolton on Saturday was one of our most complete performances of this campaign. Players have responded positively and there’s definitely been a lift (new manager bounce?). Ten points from 12 so far is obviously an impressive start, as is 14 goals from four games.

CC: How about the Blackpool match. A 4-4 draw highlighted some of the problems in the team didn't it?

SP: Losing Jack Hobbs injury (again) highlighted our defensive weakness - Freedman brought Danny Collins back in from the cold, seemingly a good move as we’re also missing Wilson and Mancienne at centre-back. But conceding an injury-time equaliser against nine men shows our lack of concentration at times.

CC: Forest have only got a goal difference of +1, so is the defence the main reason for Forest's slip down the league?

SP: Until mid-October we were conceding fewer than a goal per game. Obviously that changed after Hobbs’ injury and our midfield’s inability to track attacking players. But after scoring for fun, we seemed to forget where the net was - so it’s a combination of both really.

CC: Can you still make the play-offs?

SP: Fawaz thinks we have a ‘big chance’. I think we have a remote chance; one that involves us gaining close to 30 points from our last 14 games - some of the other teams are going to have to slip up.

CC: Do you think the selling of Karl Darlow and Jaamal Lascelles to Newcastle last summer was in the best interests of the club or a big mistake?

SP: In reality, it’s what Championship clubs need to do - bring though academy players and sell for big money. At the time it was claimed it would help with FFP, but then we spent the money on Michail Antonio and Assombalonga. So it was both in the best interests and a big mistake - if that’s possible.

CC: Do you expect a big exodus of players in this summer?

SP: I hope not! We are still allowed to sign players but there’s tight restrictions which make it very difficult to bring quality in, unless they’re on a free transfer. Burnley and West Brom bid for Henri Lansbury and Antonio respectively on deadline day but if we lose them we’ll struggle to replace them.

CC: Forest raised their game when they last played AFC Bournemouth and got a win. So is it a game that you think the Forest fans particularly look forward to when they play the Cherries?

SP: Given your position, and our need for points, I’m not sure it’s a game most are looking forward to. Although we often raise our game against teams above us in the table so who knows?

CC: Which player do AFCB have to look out for in Forest's team when they play?

SP: Given Assombalong’s injury, Antonio is the obvious answer - ungainly at times, he’s also fast, direct and exceptionally strong on the ball and responsible for eight assists and 10 goals this season.

CC: What is your score prediction for the game?
SP: I’ll be optimistic and go for 2-1 to Forest.

CC: It was good to hear from Pat at Seat Pitchalthough on recent results I think AFCB are more worried about finding ways to get three points than Forest these days and I make Forest big favourites for this game. I saw Michail Antonio's goal against Bolton at the weekend - strength, power and a controlled finish - incredible! I might be wrong but maybe Jack Hobbs is Pat's favourite player by the amount of references to him. But Forest will be a good team even without him and, Reid, Lansbury and Assombalonga. 

Eddie Howe needs a reaction from the stupor that has fallen on the Cherries and while the atmosphere at the City ground will be great another defeat for the Cherries now would be very damaging, but something we might just have to cope with. While I hope for an AFCB win, I believe a draw would be a good result in this fixture.

Monday, 23 February 2015

More ruthlessness demanded of the Cherries

Eddie Howe was quick to say that the Cherries need to be more ruthless at both ends of the pitch after the Brentford match. Getting back to winning ways is essential now and with any player not fully focused on squeezing the best out of themselves on the pitch, it is possible that Eddie will be just as ruthless in picking some one else to replace them.
Better finishing is the call from Eddie Howe. 
That may seem hard on a team that have been excellent to accumulate 59 points from 32 games but the prize is such a big one with AFCB within touching distance of making it to the big time. Eddie has to get the players believing that they can do it just as much as Derby or Middlesbrough and that message needs to hit home fairly soon now. Individual errors have not hampered AFCB too much this season but they are starting to add up now. 

It is good to hear that the goal just before half time at Brentford did not give the manager too big a task to pick the team up at half time. Picking them up from the defeat though is a bigger job and the team will be hoping that they have a stronger referee up at Nottingham. 

If AFCB play with an attacking style and keep the shots coming, they should start to give keepers more problems again and rather than doing it in small spells it will be AFCB's task to dominate more from the start in their next few fixtures to give them a better platform to get something from these crucial games. Wednesday's game can't come soon enough. UTCIAD!
AFCB have to get back on form at Forest.

AFCB have to tighten up at the back

The scoreline from Griffin Park sounds worse than how close the game really was. These were two sides who were going to score goals and it was not a big surprise that one of the teams let in three goals. It was the manner of conceding the goals that was disappointing and AFCB have work to do on getting back to being hard to score against.
There is nowhere to hide when you make a mistake in goal.
The first goal that Brentford scored was particularly poor from a Cherries point of view. The way in which Kermorgant lost the ball on the edge of the area was the first mistake and when the cross came in there were at least four players closing in on the ball who could not get a decisive clearance in. I expect Douglas could not believe his luck when he had been given a free ticket to score.

We can criticise Artur Boruc for not watching the flight of the ball well enough on Pritchard's deftly struck free kick, but I think the simplicity of the save was the undoing of the Polish keeper. He had too much time to make the save and thought it routine and with that he promptly got the decision wrong and misjudged the flight of the ball and his punch was just what Brentford needed to guide the ball in. However, the aspect that Eddie Howe will question is why did Callum Wilson make a late challenge on Alan Judge just before half time in a good shooting position for the Bees. It invited pressure on the team at the wrong time in the game and the punishment was very heavy.
Artur will have Lee Camp breathing down his neck now.
As for the final goal, it was just a case of when Brentford would get their third in this final 10 minutes. AFCB were really chasing the game and with so many opportunities for Brentford to put away the final goal it was just a surprise that it took them so many goes. Artur Boruc had reason to up his game in the second half and for him it was just a shame that his late heroics were not enough to pull his team back from defeat.

AFCB have to tighten up fast as Nottingham Forest are another team that are now playing with confidence and the City ground will not be an easy place to go and visit on Wednesday.

All Departments has a podcast about the Cherries performance at Brentford available to listen to on its website now. You can also listen by going to the side panel on Cherry Chimes and clicking on the All Departments' sound bar.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Fraser was simply superb at Griffin Park

It was fabulous to see some players who had not been able to contribute that much to AFCB's season to have a good chance at Brentford. While Shaun MacDonald got to play a full 90 minutes it was a bit fortuitous, but very pleasing to see Ryan Fraser flying down the wing again in AFCB colours after Matt Ritchie needed to be subbed.
Ryan Fraser at Griffin Park.
The directness of Ryan's running is something that really gets me excited to see and he does make the opposition have to make a decision and commit to a tackle. He is full of energy and I thought he picked the whole team up after half time. Ryan came so close to scoring and it would have been fitting if he had, because he was by far the best AFCB player on the pitch in the second 45 minutes.

I hope that he keeps doing what he does in getting into the box and making defenders try and bring him down, because he will win more penalties more often than not or get the chance to shoot at goal. Mike Dean made an error, perhaps influenced by so many players these days going over easy in the box, but it should not reflect on the young Scotsman's desire to put defenders on the back foot. 

Yann Kermorgant had also picked up a yellow card in the first half for simulation and I think referees have been put in a difficult situation these days if they don't want to give a penalty and believe that they have to book players for a potential dive if they are guessing that the player might have been able to stay on their feet. There is huge debate in the game around the issue of diving, but it is not a thing that Eddie Howe asks his players to do and I don't see AFCB's need to resort to any such tactics. It is simply the running speed and quick changes of direction from players like Ryan Fraser that defenders find hard to cope with and bringing him down is often going to be the outcome when he runs at defences.
Will Ryan get more minutes on the pitch now?
It was Ryan's all round game though that was bright on Saturday. He was quick of thought and his passes were sharp as well often setting up moves and asking questions of the opposition. While Ritchie is likely to be given back his place against Forest, I expect that Eddie Howe will be now thinking that Ryan should have at least 30 minutes in some games now as he has shown what kind of form he is in.

Bees trip up Cherries 3-1

Match Report
Brentfiord 3 v 1 AFCB
21 February 2015
Attendance: 11,459
Brentford and AFCB at Griffin Park.
Defencive lapses and missed opportunities haunted the Cherries at Griffin Park. The score line might have flattered the Bees a little, but there could be little argument in the end that Brentford had done a job on the Cherries and stopped them from getting back to the top of the table. The game turned for me in the second half when Ryan Fraser tricked his way into the box and was upturned by Tony Craig, who even put his hands to his head feeling that he had made a grave mistake, only for referee Mike Dean to present a yellow card to Ryan Fraser for simulation. Had the penalty been given it would have been a fairer reflection on the game, but Artur Boruc's failure to cope with a gently directed free kick from Alex Pritchard right on half time had already left the Cherries chasing the game, and Brentford played extremely well for a manager they know will not be at Griffin Park next season. It was all the incentive the Bees needed to run away with all three points.

There was just two changes to AFCB's team as Harry Arter is enforced to miss out two games and Shaun MacDonald came into replace him, while Simon Francis came back in for Adam Smith. Brentford also made two changes from their 3-0 defeat against Charlton with Tarkowski and Judge starting instead of Nico Yannaris and Harlee Dean.
The captains - Craig and Elphick in the middle.
First Half
Brentford set up with Gray leading the line and Pritchard and judge close in behind, while Peleteieo Ramallo offered good width on the right. AFCB players found it difficult in the early stages just to keep their feet with Ritchie especially probably thinking he should have had deeper blades or longer studs on. 

Wilson was first to make keeper David Button get down to a low shot in the eighth minute with the keeper's feet doing the necessary blocking. Simon Francis and Matt Ritchie were having some early joy up the right wing. The Bees were also pushing for a breakthrough though and they won a throw in the bottom corner after Steve Cook put the ball out under pressure. While Pritchard and Diagouraga were chased out by Shaun MacDonald, Yann Kermorgant lost the ball on the edge of the box and Pritchard played a low cross in from the right towards Andre Gray in the box, which bobbled around in front of the AFCB defenders. Ritchie tried to get there as he came back trying to help out, but nobody made a clearance and it was Jonathan Douglas who sorted his feet out first to fire home from short range. It was 1-0 to Brentford with just 9 minutes gone.

AFCB tried to make an immediate response with a corner but did not manage to get a shot on goal. Brentford kept turning over the ball and the free kicks against AFCB players were regularly featuring Mike Dean and his whistle being blown. Yann Kermorgant nearly got through by trying to catch on to a high flighted ball from MacDonald, but Button was out quickly to prevent a meaningful shot. Twenty minutes had gone and corners were not producing much for AFCB. Callum Wilson was another to fall over, but Ritchie was finding his touch and had a shot blocked by Douglas.

Yann Kermorgant was next to have a blocked shot and on the break Brentford came really close to doubling their lead when Peleterio Ramallo (Jota) ran the length of the right wing before cutting in and making Boruc make a full stretch save and Francis quickly cleared. The Bees had another good chance just afterwards, when Diagouraga headed through for Pritchard but he put his shot wide of the on rushing Boruc and the right post.

On half an hour though it was the Cherries that pulled a goal back. Marc Pugh profited by a bit of a mix up between two Brentford defenders. Diagouraga could not recover, clipping the ball up in the air from Charlie Daniel's hopeful ball in. Tony Craig was slow to react and Marc Pugh stole in, beating David Button and shooting against the post. Luckily though it left the AFCB winger with a simple tap in to equalise - 1-1.

I thought that AFCB might find their feet now and yet within a couple of minutes it was Steve Cook who was made to do a goal line clearance, as Gray had rounded Boruc and had sent his shot away. It was certainly running in from a tight angle before Cook's intervention.

A clumsy challenge from Matt Ritchie saw him pick up a yellow card and he soon ran into trouble again after colliding with Alex Pritchard, but Mike Dean decided it was not worthy of another yellow and a red card even if it was arguably more of a yellow than his first offence from where we stood.

It was the Bees that were getting on top with Daniels blocking a shot from Pritchard that went out for a corner. Then Alan Judge found himself all alone on the far side of the box from the resultant corner but shot wide. 

Brentford themselves were thankful of a last ditch tackle on Callum Wilson as he rampaged through the 'D' on the edge of the box, but moments later Wilson was receiving a yellow card  for a late challenge on Alan Judge. There was only a minute of extra time and the free kick was a fair 30 yards out. The wall lined up and everything looked covered, but when Pritchard chipped the wall and saw his shot bounce low in front of Artur Boruc, you could not have foreseen the big Polish keeper misjudging the bounce or speed of the ball, and his failed punch some how saw the ball run off his gloves and nestle in the back of the net - it was 2-1 to the hosts and half time.
The teams walk off at half time. All three goals could really have been prevented.
Fans had to focus pretty hard to see the writing on
the small scoreboard. Apprently Brentford will be investing in a bigger screen
 it said in the match programme - not before time!
Bournemouth subs at half time.
Second Half
I don't know if Eddie Howe thought that Matt Ritchie had been lucky to stay on during the first half, but he was subbed at half time and Ryan Fraser took up the right wing role for the Cherries. AFCB started with some more direct intent and won a corner off of Tarkowski. Brentford cleared their lines though and the ball was soon in AFCB's box with Tommy Elphick being accused of handball by the Brentford fans. Play went on and Judge shot wide.

Ryan Fraser was quickly attuning himself to the game, making good runs and not afraid to have a shot. From a short corner Pugh then put in a good cross that Wilson headed over with 49 minutes gone. Callum Wilson had an even better chance moments later when he saw his low shot saved well by Button.

Brentford were great on the break though and Alan Judge again shot wide after being put in by Alex Pritchard. On 55 minutes it was AFCB that nearly got an equaliser when Brentford lost the ball after a throw and Wilson played in Ryan Wilson on the right. The young Scot sped towards goal and hit his shot which thudded against the foot of the post and while it rebounded to him, he could not convert like Pugh had done in the first half and he hit his next shot into the side netting. He was furious with himself, but the chance had gone.

Brentford took off Judge and brought on Jon Toral on the hour. Wilson was still running into the corners hard and looking for opportunities, but Ryan Fraser was the one who looked on fire and a real danger to the Bees as he hit a shot over the bar from a corner.

The Cherries brought on Pitman for Yann Kermorgant on 63 minutes. Brentford kept pushing for a third goal with Pritchard having a deflected shot go wide for a corner.  From that set piece Andre Gray had a great chance at the far post but headed over.

We then had the incident that settled the game for me and not in the Cherries favour. On 64 minutes, Pugh had given the ball to Fraser and the slight of foot winger had danced his way into the box and was lining up a shot when centrally placed, but Tony Craig came rushing out and went right through him with a challenge that sent Fraser crashing to the ground. We all waited for Mike Dean to point to the spot. Then shock! Horror! Injustice! He booked Fraser for a dive and awarded a free kick to Brentford. It was a dreadful decision and cost AFCB the chance to draw the scores level. 

Just to reinforce the feeling that it wasn't going to be the Cherries day, Callum Wilson drifted in behind and put his shot wide while trying to hook it over the keeper.

A second Bentford sub was then made on 69 minutes as Andre Gray made way for Chris Long. Another chance for the Cherries was to go begging when Wilson put in a low cross to Andrew Surman at the near post and button made a superb save.

It was end to end now and while Pugh was getting back to make it harder for Brentford,but Artur Boruc was forced into a diving save as he was almost caught out with a shot from the left side from Chris Long.

AFCB's attempts were getting more ragged and Pitman and Elphick collided when trying to get a header on goal and simply got on each others way.

Brentford brought on Alan McCormack then for Diagouraga AFCB's last sub was Adam Smith for Charlie Daniels. The last 10 minutes were still full of chances, even if Odubajo was trying his best to waste time and picked up a yellow for not taking a throw in good time. It was Brentford who were looking likely to score now though with AFCB pressing everyone forward and leaving plenty of space. Pugh was pole-axed in the centre box by McCormack as Jota picked up the loose ball hit a cracking shot that came off the bar with 9 minutes to go.

Brentford had worked out that Fraser was the man to stop and Stuart Dallas was prepared to take a yellow card to do just that. The Bees were relishing playing on the break though and Jota had another shot right at Boruc this time. Seconds late Jota was in the box again and made a great turn  before finding Long who hit the post.

Mike Dean had not given AFCB much all day but Tony Craig was given a yellow card for a foul on Wilson late on. It was Boruc who was the busier keeper now though as Jota again forced a save from AFCB's keeper.

Five minutes of extra time gave AFCB fans some hope, but Pritchard and Long were trying to kill off the game and Chris Long had his shot deflected by Elphhick just wide in the first minute of extra time. Pritchard also forced Boruc into another great save. Not to worry for the Bees though, another break from Toral led to Pritchard crossing to Chris Long who wrapped up the game with a simple six yard finish to make it 3-1. The Cherries had been stung on the counter.

While this was a good win for Brentford and a blow to AFCB's automatic promotion hopes there were many positives as well as negatives in the performance. The first two Brentford goals were fairly gifted as they were not made to work nearly hard enough for the opportunities - defensive indecision in the box followed by a silly free kick to give away. 

Artur Boruc will despair about letting the shot in on half time but he also made some excellent saves on the day that definitely kept the score down late on in the game. The third was on the cards with AFCB pushing so many players forward. The pleasing note was just how well Ryan Fraser played and on another day the Cherries could have escaped with a point. At least the team is creating chances and Pugh is back in scoring mode. Brentford defended well and on the day also created lots of chances, many of which they did not convert. So I left Griffin Park disappointed but knowing that the neutral would have come away saying it was a great game.
Andrew Surman and the officials.
The players shake hands.
A tight game but Brentford come out winners.
AFCB players thank the fans.
Boruc, Francis, Elphick, Cook, Daniels (Smith 76), Ritchie (Franser 45), MacDonald, Surman, Pugh, Kermorgant (Pitman 63), Wilson

Camp, Smith, Fraser, Pitman, Gosling, Ward Stanislas

AFCB Ratings
Boruc 6, Francis 8, Elphick 6, Cook 7, Daniels 6, Ritchie 6 (Franser 8), MacDonald 6, Surman 6, Pugh 7, Kermorgant 6, Wilson 8

Button, Odubajo Booked, Tarkowski, Craig, Dallas, Diagouraga (McCormack 74), Douglas, Peleteiro Ramallo (known as Jota), Pritchard, Judge (Toral 60'), Gray (Long 69)

Brentford Subs
Dean, Saunders, McCormack, Bonham, Toral, Smith, Long

Referee Watch: Mike Dean: 1/10 shocking!