Friday, 25 December 2015

What a year 2015 has been for the Cherries

Merry Christmas to you all! It has been a truly amazing year to be a supporter of AFC Bournemouth. The year 2015 brought unmatched success and the club's first promotion to the Premier League. It has be a period that will always be remembered by the fans as a time when new records were made and anything really did seem possible under Eddie Howe and Jason Tindall's leadership. Just in case you slept through it all in the Main stand (just kidding), here is a fast track review of 2015.

The calendar year began with a thumping 1-5 away win in the FA Cup at Rotherham when most of the players who had not been getting regular playing time got the chance to stretch their legs and push for a first team place. The team actually went a goal down but fought back strongly with goals from MacDonald, Stanislas, Fraser and Yann Kermorgant who got a  brace. Humbling defeats to Norwich and Leeds Utd, a big day out at Aston Villa in the FA Cup and a home win against Watford saw out January with the Cherries three points clear at the top of the Championship.
Eddie Howe lifts the Championship trophy at Charlton Athletic's ground.
A crunch top of the table match against Derby in February resulted in a 2-2 draw and the Cherries hit a bad spell losing to Brentford and Forest to leave them fourth at the end of February. But then the kick start to the run-in began with a home win against Wolves in March and a 1-5 trouncing of Fulham at The Cottage. Blackpool and Middlesbrough were played off the park, even if Cardiff provided tougher opposition.

Kenwyne Jones came into the side on loan and grabbed a vital goal to give the Cherries a draw at play-off rivals Ipswich. Birmingham then ran away with a 0-2 lead at Dean Court only to be hauled back and find themselves on the end of a 4-2 defeat! Things got very exciting when Brighton and Reading were beaten away as well, but with everything going the Cherries way it was Adam Smith who felt distraught when he gave away a penalty in added time against Sheffield Wednesday when that game ended in a 2-2 draw. There were just two matches to go and AFCB were in second place on goal difference having amassed 84 points from 44 games, the same as Middlesbrough with Watford leading the way, just a point ahead. Going into the home game against Bolton a win would do having seen Middlesbrough and Norwich slip up only 48 hours earlier. A resounding 3-0 win promoted the Cherries unless they were going to lose a 19 goal difference at Charlton in the last game. Instead it was another 0-3 win for AFCB and they were crowned Champions as Sheffield Wednesday scored a late equaliser at Watford to give AFCB the title.

The lads celebrate the title at the Valley.
The Premier League season began after AFCB's squad had taken their summer training camp to the USA where they played Philadelphia Union of the MLS. A home defeat in the first league game of 2014-15 to Aston Villa did not discourage the team and the soon get a win away at West Ham in a 3-4 thriller. We were off and running in the League Cup with a 0-4 win up at Hartlepool and a draw against Leicester City ended August with AFCB 11th in the Premier League. Max Gradel and Tyrone Mings were on the end of long term injuries having come off worse in challenges against Leicester City - the Premier League was being unforgiving.

September saw one win at home to Sunderland and defeats away at Norwich and Stoke where Callum Wilson was the next to be stretchered off with another cruciate ligament injury. Tommy Elphick also found himself needing surgery with an ankle injury after the Norwich defeat. AFCB progressed in the Capital One Cup against Preston on penalties but October was a difficult month with just one point gained against Watford, despite having a penalty to win the game. There were big 5-1 defeats away to Man City and at home to Spurs, while Liverpool ended the Capital One Cup dreams yet again. AFCB had fallen to 17th and were hovering above the relegation zone on eight points.

November brought some sole searching on how the team should play but Harry Arter was back in the action and despite defeats to Southampton and Newcastle there were signs that the Cherries were improving despite now being in the bottom three. Sure enough a 2-2 draw at Swansea and a thrilling 3-3 comeback against Everton, at home, left AFCB on 10 points and in 18th place at the end of November.

In the last month we have seen the Cherries re-find their winning form and against some of the biggest teams in the world. A historic 0-1 win away at Chelsea and a 2-1 home win against Man Utd have been followed up with a 1-2 win away at WBA. That was nine points from nine and the Cherries had virtually doubled their points total in the space of two weeks. The team now is in 14th place and on 19 points with just two more League games to go this year against Crystal Palace and Arsenal. It has been an unbelievable year that has seen Eddie Howe win 20 games, draw 10 and lose just 14 including cup games. Roll on 2016!

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