Sunday, 31 July 2016

What should Josh King's target be next season?

Josh King had a very successful season in 2015/16. He may have hoped to have played a big part in AFCB's new Premier League status but he probably thought he would not be the number one choice when it came to leading the line for the team. Now he has seen his game grow from being a winger and a number 10 to also playing the number nine role, and his performances have elevated him into being one of the most important players at the club now.

In his second season at this level he will have to make some new assessments of what he might be able to achieve. The competition for places is not going to be any easier and with a fully fit batch of strikers to pick from Eddie Howe will be looking to see how best to get the most from his forwards. But Josh King is sitting very favourably in everyone's thoughts. He scored a wide variety of goals in the last 12 months and took on the mantle of scoring momentous goals at vital times. It has not just been his energy and pace that has caught the eye, but his intelligence and hard work rate to have really taken his game to another level.
Josh is likely to get more minutes in the friendly against Valencia on Wednesday night.
It is goals like the one he scored against Man Utd that really stick in my mind about how AFCB set about taking on much bigger sides than them last season. To score from a worked goal on the practise field is not luck or fantasy, but have proved to be a valuable weapon and the movement and tactical foresight of the management to work with the players like Josh in this way gives that togetherness even more impact when it turns out successfully.  

Josh certainly improved the more the season went on and he might well give the likes of Callum Wilson a real close fight for top scorer in 2016/17. Surprisingly, he has not scored yet in pre-season and yet he has looked one of the most lively of the strikers.

The Cherry Chimes' Newsletter is out tomorrow.

Cherry Chimes' August Newsletter brings you the best stories on the blog and the thoughts behind them from last month, plus there is a special Newsletter article entitled: Should AFCB fans be confident of a higher finish?

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Saturday, 30 July 2016

Jordan Ibe thrills Dean Court - AFCB 1 v 0 Cardiff City

Jordan Ibe stole the show at Dean Court with an early 11th minute goal that had everybody nodding at what £15m buys you these days. Ibe will endear himself to the Bournemouth fans with his willingness to get forward and have a pop at goal and Cardiff struggled to contain him and Ryan Fraser who made a pleasing home return. Liverpool's loss is AFCB's gain and with Brad Smith also playing his first game in red and black, the new look AFCB is taking shape.
Jordan Ibe is already setting a high standard at AFCB.
The team news was most welcome from AFCB as back from injury came Adam Smith, Steve Cook and Benik Afobe, as well as Ryan Fraser. Brad Smith made his debut at left back, while Corey Jordan also made his senior debut in the first team at centre-back.

Hitting the target is still an annoyance that will only get better with more practise, but there is much to admire about AFC Bournemouth even when they don't put the game out of sight. Afobe and Grabban were guilt of missing chances, while AFCB will be closely monitoring Harry Arter and Adam Smith who both came off early.

Official Match Tweets from AFC Bournemouth

08: Grabban’s tame header is saved by Marshall - #afcb are on top in the early stages here.

09: Another chances for #afcb as Afobe then sees a left-footed shot from inside the area go wide.

11: GGOOOAALLLL to #afcb! Ibe gives the Cherries the he lead with a stunning strike.

11: Ibe picks the ball up in the #ccfc half, runs at the defence and curls a shot into the far corner. 1-0 to #afcb!

22: Good chance! Afobe beats his man on the right and squares to Grabban who takes a touch, before blazing over in the box! #afcb

31: A good move from #afcb sees Afobe lay off Fraser in the area, but his curling effort is blocked. Cherries dominating at the moment.

33: Close! Ibe smashes a left footed effort from outside the box at an angle and it flies narrowly over. Still 1-0 here. #afcb

37: Arter goes down and receives treatment. He walks off the pitch, he'll be replaced. #afcb

43: 1st sub for #afcb, Arter makes his way off injured, youngster Ben Whitfield comes on. #afcb

44: Whitfield instantly involved - he threaded a lovely ball for Afobe and his dangerous cross is just cleared from Fraser's path! #afcb

HALF-TIME: #afcb 1-0 #ccfc - @IbeJordon's wonderful goal separates the two sides at the break.

SUB: One change for #afcb at the break, Jordan Lee comes on for Adam Smith.

51: Close! Afobe latches onto a poor clearance, gets in the box and slams a right footed effort just

wide of the left post! #afcb

57: #afcb break through Afobe and he found Ibe, whose cross from the right narrowly whizzes past the post via a deflection!

60 - Double #CardiffCity change: Richards and Gounongbe replaced by John and Zohore. (1-0)

62: #ccfc go close. The ball gets cleared and Ralls sidefoots a precise effort towards the bottom corner, it whizzed an inch wide

65: 3rd sub for #afcb - Afobe makes way after an energetic display to be replaced by Lys Mousset.

ATTENDANCE: 4306 with 259 travelling Cardiff fans. Thank you for your support! #afcb

74: 4th change for #afcb sees goalscorer Ibe replaced by youngster Jordan Green.
74: Another #afcb sub sees Sam Matthews come on for Grabban.

79 - Four change for #CardiffCity: Whittingham, Ralls, Peltier and Pilkington replaced by Noone, O'Keefe, Gunnarsson and Ajayi. (1-0)

80: Another #afcb sub, Callum Buckley comes on for Fraser.

82: Great chance for #ccfc. Noone put in a wicked cross and Immers nods wide at the back post from four yards. #afcb

86: Sub for #afcb, Ollie Harfield comes on for debutant Brad Smith.
FULL TIME: #afcb 1-0 #ccfc - Cherries remain unbeaten in pre-season as @IbeJordon scores brilliant solo goal.

Federici, A.Smith, Jordan, S.Cook, B.Smith, Ibe, Surman, Arter, Fraser, Grabban, Afobe.

Stanton, Lee, Butcher, McCarthy, Matthews, Green, Mousset.

Cardiff City

Marshall; Fabio, Peltier, Morrison, Connolly, Richards, Ralls, Whittingham, Pilkington, Immers, Gounongbe.

Cardiff Subs 
Wilson, Manga, Ajayi, Gunnarsson, O’Keefe, John, Noone, Zohore.

Paul Trollope will see how close Cardiff are to AFCB

Paul Trollope may not have managed a team in the Championship before this season but his Cardiff City side are ones to watch in the race for the Premier League. Cardiff will take on AFCB in a pre-season friendly wondering how they match up against a side that has not long been in the Premier League. It will be a great work out for the Blues and should give them something to aim at if they are to mount a promotion-winning season. But for AFCB it is a game that might give them less time on the ball than they could enjoy in many games next season.

Cardiff City may do well to hold on to Aron Gunnarson though who gave England's Euro squad such a tough time over in France. However, if they do he and Peter Whittingham will be players that need big seasons for Cardiff to get up. Great things will also be expected of Lex Immers who was a major summer signing from Feynoord.
AFCB players will be needing to impress in the last two home warm up games.
They have also bought in Belgian striker Frederic Gounongbe who is 28 and scored 22 goals in the Jupilier Pro League for De Kemphanen last season (I'll be honest - I have no idea how good that league is!). Danish-born Kenneth Zohore is another new striker from KV Kortrijk in Belgium, but he had already been on loan at Cardiff.

Cardiff still have David Marshall in goal who is as good as any of the top keepers in the Championship, but Hull City were rumoured to be tracking him while Steve Bruce was still at the club. Like AFCB, Hull are probably in search of some new defenders.

So we can expect a hard fought game and plenty of players from Cardiff that need to stake a claim to a place in their starting line up, but Eddie Howe may have to consider his options carefully with the players having to take on Valencia in four days time.

Enjoy the game if you are there today. I'm missing this one out so send in any images of fans or players to and I'll put the best ones up in Match Day Gallery.

Lewis Cook scores as Reading hold AFCB to 1-1 draw

Match Report
Reading 1-1 AFC Bournemouth
29 July 2016
Attendance 6600 (including 552 AFCB fans)
Luminous AFCB walk out with Reading in the latest pre-season friendly.
This was an experimental game for AFCB at the Madejski that will have done no harm to the prospects of Lewis Cook or Josh King who had strong games. The deadlock was broken by Lewis Cook after a cleverly worked space on half way enabled him to race through against Al-Habsi and slide the ball home. Reading were well worth their draw though with their second half showing which was capped off by John Swift netting from substitute Craig Tanner's right wing cross. As an experiment, Eddie Howe will have learnt more about Nathan Aké and Lewis Cook, but there is still much more improvement needed in the last third of the field.

The warm up gave a hint as to the back four with Marc Pugh practising his heading alongside, Nathan Aké, Simon Francis and Charlie Daniels - Pugh fitted in at right back. Without Adam Smith there has to be a bit of change and it was quite something to see Pugh play there are still give the odd turn in his own 18 yard box! The selection of Shaun MacDonald in front of the back four could be an experiment for the Man Utd match if Eddie goes 4-1-2-3, but this would be ambitious against Mourinho's men. If Eddie thought the formation would bring lots of attacking endeavour though, he may need to tweak the personnel a bit. 

More pictures are now on Match Day Gallery.
Eddie sits on the cheap seats in front of the
dugout while Jason Tindall watches on at his side.
AFCB fans held their breath early on as a striker was injured in the first minute. I believe it was Josh King who took a sharp knock to his ankle but he got back on after a few minutes. With Daniels AFCB's best assist merchant of late, it was pleasing to see him get a cross in that Wilson met but just could not get enough on it to direct it. Reading looked most accomplished down their right side with Roy Beerens causing lots of problems. Oliver Norwood was impressive too, threading a great ball through to left winger John Swift who cut inside and unleashed a powerful shot that Boruc needed to be alert to keep out to his left.

Josh King had a solid first half on the right but he moved around the front line interchanging when he could and made one darting run up the centre before van den Berg closed the door on him. Dan Gosling went closer still forcing Al-Habsi into a save before hitting the rebound with his left foot onto the post! 

Wilson though was less fortunate in getting tackled whenever he got near the Reading penalty box. I don't think I was the only one thinking he looked a bit below his usual sharpness and was finding it difficult to make any impression on the game. That's not great for AFCB, but Wilson never doubts himself and he'll deliver I'm sure.

Reading closed the half with a bit more possession as Evans shot wide, but Lewis Cook got the breakthrough for the Cherries when some smart movement on the half way line and a pass from Nathan Aké sent him through a gap in the Reading defence, and he took his time to finish well against Al-Habsi on 37 minutes.
A young line up for the subs.
The second half began with Reading bringing on Craig Tanner for Roy Beerens on the right wing. Japp Stam will have enjoyed seeing his sub play a vital role in crossing the ball to John Swift only five minutes later, with a clear chance to equalise from six yards. While Boruc rushed at the ball it was a simple finish for Swift, as AFCB's defence had been sucked towards the cross which had gone over their heads. Pugh was maybe not close enough but, let's face it, he doesn't play right back every week.

Reading's right back Gunter departed on the hour for another Reading sub and the luckless Wilson was replaced by Lys Mousset on 67 minutes. Mousset played on the left with King moving to the centre and Gradel to the right. New signing Mikael Ndjoli made his debut by coming on for MacDonald as AFCB looked for a winner. The best hope looked like it went when Max Gradel took a free kick that went over the wall, but was at a good height for Al-Habsi to push out for a corner. Lys Mousset though linked up through the middle well with Ndjoli and Ndjoli almost continued well to grasp a late winner but Reading's defence held firm.
AFCB recover after the 90 minutes.
AFCB's passing is getting quicker and their were less mistakes in giving away possession although Boruc made one standout pass that went well into the stands. The fitness levels and thinking on the same lines was there but the invention and the penetration in the last third that was so perfectly shown by Lewis Cook just couldn't be repeated. There is more to do in the last third of the pitch. Wilson was too much of a spectator for me and Lys Mousset appears much more at home through the middle. Gosling seems to get in the scoring positions but then just can't hit the target. There are things for Eddie to ponder for sure.

Boruc, Pugh, Francis, Ake, Daniels, MacDonald (Ndjoli 73)King, Gosling, L Cook,Gradel, Wilson (Mousset 67).

Subs: Holmes, Mousset, Buckley, Harfield, Ndjoli, Whitfield, Lee, Jordan.

AFCB Ratings
Boruc 6, Pugh 6, Francis 7, Ake 7, Daniels 6, MacDonald 6 (Ndjoli 6)King 7, Gosling 6, L Cook 8, Gradel 6, Wilson 6 (Mousset 6).

Al-Habsi, Gunter (Watson 62), Obita, McShane, Van den Berg, Norwood (Kelly 75), Evans, Williams, Swift, Beerens (Tanner 46), Rakels.

Reading Subs: Jaakkola, Cooper, Jules, Tanner, Gravenberch, Watson, Stacey, Kelly, Fosu.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Will Reading play the Dutch way against the Cherries?

Japp Stam was appointed Reading manager in June and the Dutchman knows all about how to impose an Ajax style on the field but will his players at the Madejski be capable of it? The ex-Man Utd player has pedigree and experience as player but he will be a novice in the Championship so when his team take on the Cherries in pre-season we could see a very experimental side lined up against Eddie Howe's men.

The Dutch revolution has not been slow to start at Reading. Over the summer they have signed Roy Bereens who had been playing in Germany with Herthan Berlin and cost the Royals £0.83m. But it won't all be Dutch, Finnish keeper Anssi Jakkola is the new shot stopper and midfielder John Swift has signed from Chelsea - an England U21 international. Joseph Mendes has also been raided from the French side Le Harve and he should know AFCB's Lys Mousset pretty well having played together as a strike force.
AFCB had a nervy last five minutes when
they last played at the Madejski - remember it well, do you?
Mixing these players and adapting their style while taking on the never ending Championship season is going to be a very hard job for Japp Stam. He has the knowledge though of what is needed to be a champion and if he can get this Reading side to be as mean as he was in giving teams chances to score then Reading could be the surprise package this season in the Championship. They probably won't have much chance to play total football but if they start winning they won't care as this has to be the most difficult season to be in the Championship looking at the teams now in this division.

AFCB have been linked heavily with Oliver Norwood but no bid has yet been made according to the press. He is a good age at 25 to be considering the move up to the Premier League but I imagine Japp Stam has been keen to put an arm around him to stay for at least another year at Reading.
I'll certainly enjoy singing a few rounds of
Yann Kermorgant, Yann Kermorgant, YANN KERMORGANT!
The player the AFCB fans will most want to see though is Yann Kermorgant and it will be terrific if he gets to run out at some time against the current Bournemouth side - he'll get a tremendous reception. The latest news though is that he is fighting a back injury and may miss the game. I see in the Bournemouth Echo today that there is a great interview with Yann - well worth a read. His disappointment in not playing well against Aston Vila was shared by the fans but at least we know why he found it so hard in that first Premier League game. Yann is still an all time favourite of many AFCB and Charlton fans - not a bad thing to have on your CV and I expect he is becoming a hero at Reading too.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Eddie only wants to be a winner

You could hear the disappointment of Eddie Howe in his post-match interview at Portsmouth. While his team had played well and probably should have won the game, he was less than delighted with the goals that were scored against his side and the last minute equaliser was painful as he would not have wanted any weakness to be shown in the last 10 minutes of a game not matter whether it was a friendly or not.

Eddie  said that all the goals that Portsmouth scored were poor from an AFCB defencive point of view and I have to agree with that. While Gary Roberts is a good player that should he can make powerful runs at the heart of AFCB's defence, there was not enough haste in getting to him and being strong enough in Francis' tackle to put him off. Federici saw the ball go past him in a flash, and it was not the start that would have filled any confidence in the Cherries' defence. 
Adam Federici is already under pressure.
The second goal was more of a personal nightmare for Adam Federici, who should have made a better attempt at a save, but the keeper situation is just something that AFCB find hard to solve. How long will AFCB allow personal clangers to continue is the worry. At some point, the players have to take responsibility and think more clearly about what they are doing, and work out the scenarios or implications of their actions if they are likely to end up costing the team or not. Federici made a couple of wrong decisions and it is more costly when playing in goal than when you make a mistake up field and don't make the pass you should have. All I hope is that Federici does not keep hold of the mistakes in his head and takes each game as a fresh, clean sheet to prove that he can concentrate fully for the 90 minutes. I expect Artur Boruc will get to play against Reading, but Adam will want another chance to show what he can do perhaps against Cardiff City.

Winning is a habit they say. AFCB will feel the need to get a bit of steam up in terms of results with the hard Premier League start they have. So while the Portsmouth game did not have the result Eddie wanted, it is likely to give the team more reason to up their game in the next match to please their manager.

Transfer strategy nearing completion
Welcome Brad Smith - the completion of Brad Smith's signing leaves space for a couple of more players in the 25-man squad and AFCB fans will be looking at a central defender to be signed in the next few days/weeks. 

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Is more to be demanded of Max Gradel this season?

Max Gradel has just completed an extended four-year contract with AFCB. He is 28-years old and it will have been a major commitment for him to sign such a long contract. With the departure of Matt Ritchie to Newcastle and what we hope would be a full season of fitness for Max Gradel, is it asking a lot for Max to be AFCB's star player in 2016-17? Without wanting to put any extra pressure on the Cherries Cote d'Ivorie winger, he has the skills and the confidence to take the Premier League by storm and this next season is one that he is bound to be relishing.

Max Gradel has already been in the headlines for his sending off in the friendly against Minnesota United FC, Eddie Howe has come to the players defence over this and has admitted that Gradel was unlucky to see red.

Max Gradel signs an extended four-year deal at the Cherries.
Earliy in the season he had bamboozled defenders in the West Ham away match and had won a penalty. His qualities are fairly unique in that he has a low centre of gravity and is able to drift into positions almost unnoticed, while his quick feet are a pleasure to watch. 

Max was able to keep a fairly low profile last season because of his cruciate ligament injury against Leicester City, which came at the same time as Tyrone Mings injury. It meant that he only made 14 appearances for the Cherries in 2015-16, and yet he was still an impressive player despite only netting once against Swansea on 12 March 2016. Who could forget the hug that he gave Eddie Howe as a special thanks. 

But Max provided much more than his single goal, just seeing him back on the pitch raised the team at an important time, when their safety was not assured. When he did come back in the Watford away match it was like he had never been away. Despite Eddie Howe's intention of only wanting to play him for a few minutes towards the end of the match. The injury to Junior Stanislas as early as the 23rd minute against Watford gave Max his chance and he went on to start eight more times between then and the end of the season with nine appearances in the last 11 games.

While Junior Stanislas and Marc Pugh had their own injuries during parts of the season, they were not as serious as Max's cruciate and they way he bounced back was truly remarkable and a big statement not only of AFCB's physio team, but Max's own self belief as he did much of the rehabilitation work in Africa. I feel we have only seen a glimpse of what Max is capable of and he won't be the only one being keen to demonstrate that they can have a big season wearing the red and black shirt, is going to be exciting to see how he, and some of the others - like Harry Arter, Tyrone Mings and Callum Wilso – who did not get a large run out last season, get on.

Max always comes a cross as a smiley joker and now with Lys Mousset adding some French speaking and Lewis Cook adding a Leeds connection, I'm hoping Gradel is going to have a big season ahead of him.

Transfer News
Harry Cornick has signed with Leyton Orient on loan until January 2017.

Tokelo Rantie is linked with a move to FC Zurich according to the Bournemouth Echo

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Encouraging signs for AFCB

You can say that Portsmouth are not world beaters being a League Two side, but a team can only play the teams in its own division, and aim to be the best, and they tested AFCB scoring three goals which led to Eddie Howe stating that there is more work for the Cherries to do. Yet, like Eddie I saw some elements of the game that really encouraged me for next season and considering that there was not much time to prepare for the Pompey match, I was really pleased to see that the players were working really well for each other and the new signings were quick to get a hold of what Eddie Howe demands of his teams.

Lewis Cook was a great example of what fans can expect to see in terms of work ethic and intelligent play. While Lewis was finding it difficult to get into the flow of the game in the first 15 minutes, he soon picked up the challenge and started to direct where he wanted the ball played and made himself available as much as possible, by changing angles and creating space. It was only natural for many of the AFCB players to start looking for him and giving him the ball, as he was that comfortable in wanting to set up play and I though he out shone Harry Arter on the day, which is no discredit to Harry who always works hard.
Lewis Cook sharpens up his shooting as Marc Pugh looks on.
I was even more enthused by the qualities of Lys Mousset. While I expected him to be taking more of a junior role in taking his lead from the players in and around him, he was having none of that, and was making himself the focal point of the attack in the second half. Lys is more powerful than you might believe, and I think his explosive bursts of energy will offer a valuable threat up front. He thinks quickly as well and you'd have thought he had been playing with the Cherries for several months, not just a few weeks.

Coming to the man who Liverpool fans are quite split over, in whether he should or should not have been sold, I thought Jordan Ibe was again an inspiring player to watch. Call him the Matt Ritchie upgrade if you want, but there are qualities about Jordan that are on a different level to many players in much bigger sides than AFCB. He'll go straight into the starting line up and will be a huge player for the Cherries. Just his touch and the sharpness of his movement were too much for Pompey's payers who could not get near him. When he scored his goal it was almost like the Pompey players were bemused - well what could we possibly have done to have stopped that? Ibe was just enjoying himself and if he keeps that up, we'll be calling his signing an absolute masterstroke.

So the 500 or so AFCB fans who were at Fratton Park saw some excellent entertainment. I am looking forward to the match at Reading, which I'll be at, but I'd recommend that fans try to get to at least one of these pre-season friendlies to get a look at the squad as there is plenty to admire. Things are getting exciting! UTCIAD!

Match Day Gallery now has photos on it from the Pompey away game.

Transfer News
Brad Smith is due to have his medical at Dean Court today. Hopefully, Tony Pulis at WBA will also allow Jonny Evans to speak to AFCB.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Brad Smith is a clever target for AFCB to go for

Having already enticed Jordan Ibe away from Liverpool over the summer it is slightly unexpected to see AFCB go back in again to try and lure Brad Smith away from the Merseysiders as well. These are young players that have evolved in one of the best academies in the country and having had first team action with Liverpool, Brad Smith will have played with far more pressure on his back than he would if he comes to play down at Dean Court and that just could be a big bonus for him that could help him to flourish.

AFCB fans may want experienced stars that have already made their name but Eddie Howe may well yet go to try and sign Jonny Evans from WBA to make the defence a more experienced unit. By signing Brad Smith though, he has again looked at the future potential that this Australian international player who had admirers at Liverpool in good number, even if the fee £6m knocked some back a little. The point is that AFCB do not have strength in depth and that was clearly shown last season when a crop of injuries showed how they were down to the bare bones. Eddie wants quality two deep for every position and Smith can play on the left side of midfield as well as left back and I'd expect he'd also consider being a centre-back.
Brad Smith No 44, with Lucas after the match at Dean Court last season.
Would Brad Smith be a player that I'd automatically have in my mind for AFCB to sign? Probably not, but he has the age profile, the Liverpool FC football education and the opportunity now to prove himself at a club that is also growing. I wonder if Eddie has been speaking to Sean O'Driscoll who has been Liverpool's past assistant manager as recently as 2015, and if he has passed on some guidance about Brad Smith. Of course AFCB have also seen Brad play against them in the cups and he made his Premier League debut against AFCB last April. 

It is a good match and I'd rather AFCB get players in that are looking to improve themselves than a host of players that have their best years behind them and nothing to prove. We'll see how good the Slatan Ibramovic's are soon enough when Man Utd turn up, AFCB's need though is for defenders that want to learn fast and improve on the number of clean sheets the team had last season. The young Liverpool players showed how good they were when they played against AFCB in the league last season - Brad Smith was certainly one who impressed.

Premier Talk: Will David Moyes make Sunderland better?

Sunday, 24 July 2016

The Cherries have to settle for a draw at Fratton Park

Match Report
Portsmouth 3 v 3 AFCB 
22 July 2016
Attendance 5153 (531 AFCB fans)
Portsmouth and AFCB take on each other and the heat.
When this fixture was planned, nobody would have expected it to be a sweltering 82°F at Fratton Park and the heat soon gave a warm welcome to new look AFCB and Pompey teams that so often delighted, and then occasionally frustrated, both sets of fans in a competitive match. The Cherries fell behind early to a Gary Roberts strike and when Lewis Grabban slotted in an equaliser on 25 minutes, Pompey retook the lead straight after from a Michael Smith tap in, after Adam Federici had spilt a shot. Even at 2-1 down at half time, AFCB had plenty of quality off the bench to come, and the equaliser came from a keen to impress Jordan Ibe, who fired in at the near post, with some 22 minutes to go. The Cherries must have thought they had won it when Dan Gosling tucked away a third, in the 81st minute, but a late goal by Adam May meant that both sides would settle for a draw.
Pompey supporters gather around the ground.
The starting team line up for AFCB was fascinating with Eunan O'Kane assuming a new role at right back which suited him well, and Charlie Daniels partnered Simon Francis in central defence. Rhoys Wiggins then had the chance to play at left back. Wilson and Grabban were given first opportunity to play up front, and new signing Lewis Cook partnered Harry Arter were in central midfield with Pugh and Fraser on the wings. 
Portsmouth before the match do their warm up.
Eddie and Jason in the dugout.
A warm welcome for AFCB's new captain.

Ryan Fraser was sprightly in attack and had the first shot that was well held by Alex Bass, Pompey's keeper. AFCB had looked controlled enough but with the ball quickly lost in midfield, Gary Roberts latched onto a through ball. Francis scrambled across the 18 yard box to try and cover, but he failed to stop Roberts who rode the challenge and curled a low placed shot past Federici and into the bottom left corner of the net to give Pompey the lead on three minutes - 1-0

AFCB kept playing their football from the back and their slow start might have been expected having only travelled back from the US mid-week. Lewis Cook and Harry Arter were battling to get some control back and Wiggins and Pugh began a few sorties up the left wing in response to going behind. 

Portsmouth were enjoying this though, winning a corner and putting pressure back on AFCB. There was not enough composure about Bournemouth' play and the odd misdirected pass from Lewis Cook. Yet, Eunan O'Kane was playing extremely well in marshalling new signing Milan Lalkovic. The best early move followed for AFCB when Lewis Cook drove down the right and found Lews Grabban in space only for the ex-Norwich marksman to shoot narrowly wide!

16 minutes had gone and AFCB were warming up to the task. Arter was still hitting the odd pass too strongly, but Lewis Cook was starting to make first touch forward passes his theme and it was putting AFCB on the front foot.

However, Roberts was still a threat. The ex-Huddersfield man linked up with Carl Baker who shot just wide of the left upright! Pugh was having more touches now but when he did find Grabban the touch let Lewis down again. Luckily Ryan Fraser gathered up the remnants and beat his man to reach the byline, and he pulled back a low cross that Grabban slotted home from six yards to make it 1-1 on 25 minutes.

The Cherries' fans celebrations lasted all of a minute. A long driven shot from Enda Stevens was not held by Federici. It fell at the feet of Mathew Smith who gladly accepted the invitation to stab home Pompey's second - 2-1. Federici slung his bottle down in the net with measured anger!

It took 28 minutes for the Cherries to win their first corner and from then on just about every one was taken short. Mark Pugh almost grabbed a spectacular goal with an overhead kick but it was somehow kept out by a Pompey body on the line! Callum Wilson was finally getting involved and was pushed to the ground in the box, but he got nothing for his appeals. Ryan Fraser's claims were similarly dismissed moments later when he needed some medical attention for the clip he took.

Simon Francis took no prisoners though in ploughing through Danny Rose who was superbly slide-tackled, but half time had arrived an AFCB were still 1-2 down.
Half time and the subs warm up.
Second Half
We expected changes and sure enough Eddie made five in bringing on Ibe, MacDonald, Gosling, Mousett and King. Ibe would play on the right, King on the left and Mousset through the middle, as AFCB lined up in more of a 4-5-1 formation now with Arter the only midfielder from the first half remaining on the pitch.

There was a wild shot from Danny Rose early on but nothing to scare Federici until Mathew Smith needed a good block from Daniels to prevent him from extending Pompey's lead. 

I mainly concentrated my gaze on new signings Lys Mousetts and Jordan Ibe. Mousset's movement was excellent in making space for Gosling to slip him passes. Ibe's touch was also very good and Pompey's defence was quickly taking note of his skill and trickery. 

After the hour Pompey started making a procession of subs following one they had made at half time. Off came Smith and Curtis Main joined the game. Danny Rose was also replaced by Noel Hunt.

There was a slower pace to the second half but O'Kane was still racing up the right wing and pulled back a god cross for King. Once Mousset found some space, on the edge of the box, he then drove in a shot with little back lift that Alex Bass did well to keep out. 

At the 70 minute mark more Pompey made another change - Doyle made way for Dan Close. It may have made them lose some concentration as Jordan Ibe put their left back on toast before rifling in a shot to beat Bass on his left side, low down - 2-2

Ibe took a bow in front of the AFCB fans, he  loved that! And it was kind of a signal - there's more of that to come this season. Eddie and Jason immediately stood up and roused AFCB to go and get a winner.

The 'Olés' started to ring out for more than a minute as AFCB played keep ball only for Adam Federici to almost gift a goal to Portsmouth. He lost control and hit his clearance at Noel Hunt. Luckily Federici recovered quickly to make it difficult for Hunt who settled for a corner. Francis then had everyone laughing even more when he did a handstand in trying to tackle Noel Hunt just over half way - he just about kept his balance!

Pompey now piled on the subs - Barton, Doyle and Haunstrup entered the game. They may be timed it wrong again, as Mouset set about their defence and a Wiggins' cross was pounced on by Dan Gosling who made it 2-3!

Pompey's response? More subs - Davies, Oxlaide-Chamberlain, May, Tollit and Davies! I'd lost count by this stage. Josh King was still running through the middle of Portsmouth's defence. Ibe switched to the left and Mousset was tried on the right wing.

AFCB made one last sub bring on Matt Butcher for Rhoys Wiggins who was applauded off. He'd worked hard on the day. But all AFCB's work seemed a bit cut down on 88 minutes when a Tollit shot deflected in by Adam May made it 3-3. What a finish!
A good workout for AFCB.
A truly enjoyable day was had a Fratton Park. It was great to see some new names and to see the team play with an attitude of fervent attack. What will Eddie take away from this game? Eunan O'Kane can play at this level at right back - can he do it in the Premier League? Francis is the best tackler, but has lots to learn about being a centre-back and averting trouble. Adam Federici has an error or two in him which means it is hard for him to be a number one, although Boruc has the same problem. 

The big plus points - Lewis Cook excelled and his first touches were very creative. Lewis Grabban has started scoring goals and he has his smile back. The introduction of Lys Mousett and Jordan Ibe in particular showed that AFCB will have several options when they need to get a goal in games when coming from behind. All-in-all a promising start to pre-season, but shots on goal and making the keeper work would still be the buzz words in training.
Arter enjoys taking his boots off as Ibe spots someone in the crowd.
AFCB starting XI
Federici 5, O'Kane 7, Francis 7, Daniels 6, Wiggins 7, Fraser 6, Arter 6, L Cook 7, Pugh 6, Grabban 6, Wilson 6

Gosling 6, MacDonald 6, Ibe 8, Mousett 7, King 7, Butcher 6.

Transfer Gossip
Brad Smith of Liverpool is another defender believed to be targeted by AFCB, says The Sun. This almost reads like a done deal for £6m but Brad is still in the USA on tour. 

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Jonny Evans linked with move to the Cherries

WBA and former Man Utd defender Jonny Evans has been linked with AFCB today by the Daily Mirror. There is no doubt in my mind that Eddie Howe needs to bring in a quality centre-half and Evans would fit the bill with his experience and leadership qualities. 

Jonny Evans only moved to WBA in August 2015 and quickly became a fans favourite. The Northern Ireland international has been out in France over the summer playing in the Euros in some strong displays with the Irish reaching the last 16. Whether his value has risen greatly since his £6m move last year is a difficult one but a fee of £7m to £8m would still be a big fee for AFCB to pay out for the 28-year-old. 
Jonny Evans limbers up with team-mates ahead of the
last game at Dan Court last season. Could he feature
 in the first game of 2016/17 at Dean Court for AFCB? 
If AFCB can sign a defender of this quality, the possibilities for becoming a stable club in the Premier League would be enhanced greatly. He is a player that is known as a strong tackler and able to play out from the back calmly under pressure. It is thought that WBA themselves are chasing Brighton defender Lewis Dunk as a possible replacement which is an interesting link seeing that the Cherries had been thought to be interested in the Brighton player.

Premier Talk: Steve Bruce exits side door left! where will he reappear?

Pompey have strengthened over the summer

Having just got off the plane, AFCB are walking into another game - this time it's the Alan McLouglin benefit fund match. So what have Pompey been up to since their play-off defeat to Plymouth earlier this year. Signings have been coming in and a few names have departed but Portsmouth will be up for the contest having given AFCB a close call in last year's FA Cup match at Fratton Park.

Pompey's latest signing is striker Curtis Main who was bought from Doncaster Rovers on a two-year deal. The 24-year-old was on loan at Oldham last season and scored just four goals and 18 games. Fellow striker Michael Smith has also signed from Swindon Town having been on loan at Pompey. They have also strengthened their back line with the signing of Tom Davies who was released by Accrington Stanley. Drew Talbot has been picked up as well having been released by Chesterfield. He is a 29-year-old full back.
The Pompey line up against AFCB when they met in the FA cup last season.
Like AFCB, Portsmouth have also been looking at wingers and they have brought in 23-year-old Milan Lalkovic from Walsall. Experience in midfield will also be given by new signing Carl Baker who has transferred from Milton Keynes Dons and Danny Rose who was the first summer signing and was bought from newly promoted Northampton Town. Matt Clarke who was on loan at Pompey lat season from Ipswich also agreed to join Pompey over the summer. 

Those who won't be available include Gareth Evans who has a knee and ankle ligament injury and is not due back in pre-season. Pompey's player of the season midfielder Ben Davies has also moved on to Grimsby. Defender Adam Webster has left for Ipswich Town. Meanwhile, AFCB favourite Danny Hollands is currently out of contract but may agree terms with Pompey on a new contract.

That all said, AFCB will be playing a very different team to the side that it played in the fourth round of last season's FA Cup. Ryan Allsop also kept goal for Pompey in the play-offs and I'm not sure they were that impressed with him having been rather at fault for one of Plymouth's goals in the play-offs.

Injury and team news
The Echo has given an update on injuries - Andrew Surman and Ryan Fraser should feature for AFCB v Pompey today. Benik Afobe will train next week after he received the all clear on his knee scan and Steve Cook's thigh strain is only expect to keep him out two weeks. Bailey Cargill has a groin strain and Junior Stanislas is not expected to feature either. Nathan Aké is being rested and Emerson Hyndman and Adam Smith, Tyrone Mings are also not available on the longer injury list. Shaun MacDonald might have to come in at centre-half for this game. It may be a case of who is still standing! It's pay on the door at Fratton Park.