Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Ward and Daniels are consummate pros

Eddie Howe had no worries about putting Charlie Daniels and Elliott Ward straight back into the starting line up against Ipswich. The two players had been out for some time, but it was clear that some changes were likely considering that the team had not won in its last two games. I had thought that it might be Steve Cook who missed out after the Sheffield game but as always Steve played a blinder at Portman Road to back Eddie Howe's selection.
Charlie Daniels at Portman Road.
It was a bit of a surprise to see that Tommy Elphick would miss out, but he has had a bad back it appears and while he has had a good run in the team, Elliott Ward had been waiting patiently for several games. I felt that Elliott had another strong game, reading the play well and getting his body across Murphy and the ball frequently. To be fair Daryl Murphy hardly had a kick with Cook and Ward in his face all the time. 
Apparently the team coach was late to the game so the players lost
about 10 minutes warm up time before the Ipswich match.
Charlie Daniels supported Pugh admirably and while I don't think he crossed the ball as much as he can do, I expect Eddie Howe had given him warning not to push up all the time. As it was Ipswich were not that powerful on the break and if AFCB had just kept their heads better they could have won the game, as Eddie Howe pointed out in his post-match interview.

Elliott Ward fitted in excellently as if had been playing in the last five games.
Even when the team went to three at the back with Daniels coming off I could not see Ipswich scoring unless they has a set play. It is clear that Eddie now trusts his players to play whatever system he sees fit when the situation demands it, and with players able to play in different positions you can see that this team is continually improving. I hope that the home supporters can give them a big send off on Saturday against Nottingham Forest, because the work they have put in has been incredible this season and they are going to be an even more powerful team next season.

Ward and Daniels will be looking to hold on to their places against Nottingham Forest and it will be a real test to see if they can help the team get a clean sheet in the final home match. 
Elliott was on top form at Ipswich.

Our trip to Portman Road

Stephen and Robert catch up with Sir Bobby Robson.
We set out nice and early for Ipswich from Redhill at 9am because we had read that it was a special family down with a fun park and lots of things going on for the kids and adults around the ground from 11am. It did not take long to go around the M25 and under the Dartford Tunnel before heading up the A12. A quick stop at the services just outside Colchester was the only brief break and by 11am we were driving up to the ground and chose to park in the car park opposite the ground for £4.60 all day parking.
Peter  stands at the feet of the great man.
Robert immediately spotted a statue in front of the main stand and we headed over to take our picture with Sir Bobby Robson. We then decided that we should walk around the ground having seen the family entertainment event around the back of the stadium. It took a fair while to visit all four corners of the ground and we took a few photos as we went on our way round.

When we found the family fun area, Robert and Stephen headed straight for the bouncy castles and they were pleased to receive their Ipswich gift pack mainly because it contained a cream egg! While I took the extra goodies back to the car the boys found a few more things to play on. Robert and I had a go at the Bucking Bronco and  Stephen decided a human table football game was more for him. Robert and I also had a go at shooting balls into the pockets at the penalty shoot out and sadly I have to say we scored no points from six shots! Still more cream eggs were handed out so I don't think the boys minded too much.
Robert hangs on.
See, I stayed on for at least 20 seconds.
Robert goes close to scoring.
Oh no - Cherry Chimes keep him off the pitch!
Stephen decides to play goalie.
Enjoying the sun - not sure why Robert has his hood up?
We then headed off to town to get something to eat and we chatted to a few Ipswich fans who were more concerned with who we were playing next than anything else. When I said Forest and Millwall they winced, but I said I was rather looking forward to the remaining games. Somehow I don't think Burnley will do Ipswich any favours when they play them.

Robert with Sir Alf Ramsey.
Once we had taken some more pictures with Sir Alf Ramsey''s statue and visited the club shop which was opposite the statue on the corner of Portman Road we decided to head for our gate. Our gate 14 was of course closed, so we had to go in via gate 15. We were not searched that vigorously and soon found ourselves in the Family Lower Tier of the away stand. The main AFCB fans were directly above us and had paid almost double the price for the privilege! At least they had a roof although it did not cloud over until late on.

I started taking photos and was of course approached by not one but two stewards who must have thought I'd never been to a Championship match with a camera before as they informed me as usual that no pictures were to be taken during the game. I think I would have about £20 this season if I had collected a quid every time a steward said that to me - I guess they don't have much to do and it makes them feel important.

There are more photos of the AFCB supporters on Match Day Gallery.

Gate found.
Ipswich players came out with 40 minutes or more before kick off, but AFCB's players left it until 30 minutes to go which was a bit later than usual. I chatted to Steve Cook AFCB's official photographer for a bit before letting him get on with his work. We had brought three blow up bananas and they were inflated just before kick off and I gave one to a lad whose family I often see in the family stand. His brother Matt was a mascot for the day.

Is someone facing the wrong way?
Talking of Mascot's we all gave Cherry Bear a high five as he passed us by and he was joined by several other mascots who lined up to have a sprint over half of the pitch before kick off. Cherry Bear did not disgrace AFCB finishing second in a photo finish to Nando's macot. Better luck next time! A short video of the race is on Robert and Stephen's corner - I wasn't that well positioned though to get a great view.

The game itself was very enjoyable to watch as the sun was shining for most of it and AFCB were playing particularly well, until Ipswich went and spoilt things by scoring. It was right to the side of where we were seated and we couldn't believe how easy it was for the ball to come right across the Bournemouth box leaving a virtual tap in for Anderson. But the team recovered well and the Ipswich crowd were soon silenced when Cookie put away his acrobatic overhead kick to level things up.
Team photo.
Double huddle.
I had a sneaky feeling that the game would be a draw and while Ipswich went ahead I couldn't see them holding on to their lead which they took again from a set-piece. Sure enough Matt Ritchie pulled things back to 2-2 from a free kick with just 10 minutes remaining. While a draw was probably better for Ipswich than for the Cherries we were pleased that the team had played so well and just about kept their play-off hopes alive for another week.

As we made our way out and found our car we had to endure about a 40 minute slow escape from the parking space to the A12 but we soon got going once we had made it to the town's outskirts. It was a great day and well worth the drive up to Suffolk. Now we have one last away day at the Den to go.
See you soon fellas.
All Departments has released Kangaroo Court Easter Round up - visit All Departments' website or scroll down the right hand panel of Cherry Chimes to find the podcast.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

The Championship is going to be a thriller right to the end

While AFCB did not pick up the much needed three points at Portman Road they will still have a big say on the final look of the table with their remaining two fixtures and could yet pass a few more teams and even reach the play-offs. While Reading are now seen as the team to have been given the chance to sit in sixth with two games to go, we'll all be listening to see if Middlesbrough can upset them tonight, because another defeat for Reading would liven things up yet again.

There are many ifs and buts, and what ifs, still to be had but it looks like the Cherries will have to be content with their highest ever points tally in the division and perhaps still their highest ever placing. That would be an exceptionally good season for a team that was finding things hard going last November. While some will say that the team ran out of steam in the final few games I thought that they played particularly well at Ipswich and were unlucky not to get all three points on the chances created. 

I keep looking at the full table though and reading the goals against column. Bournemouth's goal difference is much poorer than other teams in the top half and none of the teams above them have let in 60 goals and yet AFCB have let in 64. With 17 wins though and 12 draws this season it has been a magnificent return with just two games to go. This is something that can be built upon and it will be tremendously rewarding to see the Cherries develop further under Eddie Howe. 

It could be that the teams between sixth and 10th could draw some of their last fixtures and allow AFCB to still reach an unlikely play-off spot, but that is a very long shot now and well out of the hands of AFCB. Still it is nice to be sitting at the top end of the league and the final two games for the Cherries will be worth seeing, because Eddie Howe's style of football is about the best you can see in the Championship on its day. 

Sign me up for another season in the Championship and if it is not asking too much can we have some hefty wins for AFCB's last two games of this season please?

Later tonight I'll put some more pictures up on the Match Day Gallery of the Ipswich match, so check back in then.

Late drama at Portman Road Ipswich 2 v AFCB 2

Match Report
21 April 2014
Ipswich 2 v 2 AFCB
Attendance 20,356 (890 AFCB supporters)
We have arrived at Portman Road.
Just a couple of huddles left for this season.
You could not have asked for any more effort from an AFCB side that has made this a truly wonderful season. Right up until the last minute against Ipswich they were still trying to get a winner, which would have been fully deserved. It was two points that the Cherries could not really afford to drop if they were to keep their play-off hopes alive, but they showed once again that they are a match for any team in the Championship and with a bit more luck they could have had even more success this season. What has stopped AFCB doing better though is the large amount of goals conceded and in this match they let in two poor goals that were certainly preventable and typically for this side came against the run of play.

Around the back of the stadium there is
an all weather surface training area.
Eddie Howe brought back Charlie Daniels and  Elliott Ward for the match against the Tractor Boys with Tommy Elphick and Ian Harte moved to the bench. There was not sign of Harry Arter though despite having served his three match ban.

Mick McCarthy also made some changes as his Ipswich side had only had 48 hours since their last outing against Watford and into the team came Richardson for his first start, Anderson and Hunt.
Time to shake hands.

With the sun blasting its rays down on a large crowd all was set for a match that would see two sides go toe-to-toe for a chance to claw themselves nearer to the play-offs. AFCB started much the better with Surman directing play most effectively while Williams and Anderson could only pick up offside flags in the first few minutes. Bournemouth were getting their passing and movement going well and Daniels looked keen to start getting more involved up the left wing. But every now and again Surman or Pugh would lose the ball.

Meanwhile, Ipswich response was to play long balls which were easily swallowed up by Camp. Kermorgant was moving well and linking up play, while Grabban was soon fouled, after 9 minutes, in the centre circle as Ipswich looked to keep an eye on Bournemouth's leading goal scorer.

Ian Harte's absence was immediately felt as the ball was kicked straight out from the free kick. Daniel's next involvement was to take down Chambers on 10 minutes. Francis, O'Kane and Ritchie dealt with the danger but the ball up to Grabban was too strong. O'Kane tried another through ball moments later which was again to heavy, but the next time Grabban did get away only to fire his shot at Gerken on 13 minutes.

Ipswich's response was a wild cross from Anderson. Things were looking good for the Cherries as they were well on top. Yann Kermorgant was chasing things down but went a bit far when he caught Skuse. AFCB soon had the ball back though and Grabban shot wide on 15 minutes.

Richardson was doing a lot of work at right back having to keep Daniels and Pugh quiet, while Grabban was drifting over to the left now and again to make it even harder for him. All Gerken had on his mind was banging long balls up to Murphy but Ward was always there to cover.

Grabban played a cross ball that almost reached Pugh but Richardson just got their first. Pugh the fouled Chambers. Most of the game though was being played in Ipswich's half with AFCB keeping possession much the better. Murphy was again caught offside on 19 minutes as the pattern of play looked pretty set.

Pugh won a corner then on 21 minutes after a cross and AFCB took it short with Surman and Ritchie when the ball was sent over to the far post it was just deflected out for a second corner, this time from the left. Surman was first to have his shot blocked before the ball come out to Francis who hit a pile driver of a shot but well over!

Murphy then fouled Cook and AFCB had the ball back again.It became a bit of the Yann show for the next few minutes as he first headed over from a Francis cross and then went closer still with a header off of a Pugh cross. Ipswich were starting to look at all at sea at the back with a cross from the left that Yann Kermorgant first went for and was blocked before Ritchie passed to Pugh or O'Kane that went over on 28 minutes.

Kermorgant was also doing his bit in defence blocking Anderson from getting a shot in while Murphy just kept getting flagged offside. If it wasn't Gerken playing high balls up to Murphy it was Smith from centre back but Grabban fouled Smith on one occasion when he had tried to do that. 

It came a s a bit of a surprise when Ipswich broke well and Anderson and then Williams came forward, passing on to Cresswell on the left who shot wide on 33 minutes. If that was a warning it wasn't noted, because on the next throw Skuse burst through and crossed from the right wing. The ball went right across AFCB's box with Francis seeming to let it go not knowing that Anderson was coming in behind from the left and his shot was smashed passed Camp to make it 1-0 to the home side.

It was just typical. AFCB had played brilliantly, but had switched off for a second and were one-nil down. that could so easily have been two when Williams was brought down on the edge of the box and the resulting free kick from Cresswell was thwacked against the right upright with Camp just getting a vital touch. Pugh managed to get the ball away from goal after that.

AFCB than had a strong move with Ritchie playing the ball over to Pugh in a good shooting spot but Pugh missed his kick. Grabban might have done a bit better seconds later as his shot went wide, but at least it was out for a corner. The ball looked like it was cleared off the Ipswich goal line. The pressure was really mounting on the Ipswich goal and on 42 minutes Grabban was fouled. As the ball came into the box from the free kick, Cook got a head to it and the ball went straight up and yet he was quick enough to position himself for an overhead kick on the six yard line and, as he hit the ball, it fairly rocketed into the roof of the net to make it 1-1. I had thought at first that it was Yann Kermorgant and I was stunned when I realised it was Cookie. Any striker would have been proud of that finish. Cookie ran towards the away supporters with his arm aloft pointing to the sky.  AFCB were back in the game and had score right on half time.

Ipswich were fighting hard now though and Wordsworth hit a solid shot that Camp had to save well before the break. So it was 1-1 at half time.
Ryan Fraser at half time.
I thought the Grand National was the other week - Ipswich's mascot.
Second Half
The second half saw Green come on for Wordswirth. Anderson was getting on the ball early and Ward soon took him down from which Anderson never really recovered.  Pugh chased Richardson into the box and while the away supported yelled penalty for a handball Andy D'Urso wasn't moved.  A corner to AFCB led to a blocked shot from Pugh. The best early chance of the second half  went to Grabban though when he had the chance to collect a through ball from Surman but he lost control and the ball ran away to Gerken in goal.

Ipswich were doing better on the right wing with Richardson and Green, but Anderson had to be subbed after still feeling Ward's challenge and on came Nouble after 53 minutes. AFCB were having to do some defending and Francis fouled Williams that led to a free kick near the corner on the left for Ipswich. It was a set piece that took ages to take as the Ipswich men looked to confuse and get their players in the right place. It worked to perfection as a knock on led to Green stopping low to head Ipswich 2-1 up on 54 minutes.

The Cherries had it all to do now with the home crowd loving every minute. But AFCB still kept playing their steady passing game and looked to get back into the game. Murphy was still the main target for Ipswich but again he was caught offside, while Nouble tried to keep him company the sub went in late on Camp but the referee gave him no more than a gentle warning.

Bournemouth's possession was very strong and they just needed to find a finish in the last third and it looked like it would come on 63 minutes when a Francis run down the right was sent right across the box and Pugh coming in late from the left managed to blast the ball over from six yards! It was just like Ipswich's first goal only Anderson had tucked that chance away.

It might be that Pugh was going to be replaced any way but after that Eddie Howe made the change as Rantie replaced Pugh on 66 minutes. Ritchie switched to the left wing as well as Adam Smith came on the right wing to replace Daniels and AFCB went three at the back to chase the game.

Hunt won a corner for Ipswich , but Surman cleared with a header. Grabban made a great run on 69 minutes with the Ipswich defence stretched but when he got to the byline and pulled it back Rantie was in the wrong place and it was easy to clear.

Adam Smith was doing well on the right wing and beat Skuse to the challenge. Rantie though was having less luck as he was caught well offside.

Williams was taken off on 76 minutes for Mings to come on as Ipswich looked to shut up shop. Ipswich won a free kick for a foul on Murphy and then a corner. I still felt AFCB could get something from this game but time was running out.

With Rantie's pace it seemed that AFCB might have a chance on the break but Mings was covering well and blocked a Rantie effort. Tommy Smith for Ipswich was a little more clumsy and took Rantie out on the right side of the field in front of the box. That was just the chance that AFCB needed. Yann Kermorgant Ritchie and Surman stood over the ball and with a quick flick Surman laid the ball off to Ritchie to strike and after a deflection, off the foot of the wall, the ball landed in the back of the net. It was 2-2 and no more than Bournemouth deserved having bossed the game for large periods.

The last 10 minutes would be full out action. Surman won a free kick on 82 minutes but it came to nothing and Ipswich won a free kick for a foul on Nouble and came close with a header from Mings. While AFCB flung crosses in Grabban was not able to reach them, while Cook's long throw was also missing its target. Camp came well out of his goal on 87 minutes looking to get the ball deep into the Ipswich half and Kermrogant

Ipswich won a corner and we all hoped that it would be cleared safely and it was. There was still time to see Grabban shot wide again and a Bournemouth throw that saw Yann Kermorgant head wide. It ended 2-2.
A great effort by AFCB's players.

I know the players enjoyed the support at Ipswich it was immense all game.
It was good to see Charlie back.
I don't think 42 was kissing his team mate.
Eddie Howe says a goodbye to the fans.
A great performance by the Cherries was just not quite enough to beat an Ipswich team that still look in a much better position to reach the play-offs than Bournemouth.  It is not quite mathematically over but you could see in the player's faces that they knew they had to win this game realistically. The thing that scuppered Bournemouth were the two Ipswich goals that perhaps better teams would have kept out. It is something that Eddie Howe will surely now look to strengthen ahead of next season because it is the soft goals that are all that have really prevented AFCB from finishing even higher in the Championship. If they can tighten up at the back next season I can only see even more joy on the faces of AFCB fans and players to come.

Gerken, Richardson, Cresswell, Wordsworth (Green 45), Chambers, Smith, Anderson (Nouble 53) , Murphy, Skuse, Williams (Mings 77), Hunt

Ipswich Subs
Loach, Mings, Greeb, Tabb, Taylor, Marriott, Nouble

Camp, Francis, Ward, Cook, Daniels (Smith 66) , Ritchie, O'Kane, Surman, Pugh (Rantie 66), Kermorgant, Grabban

AFCB subs
Allsop, Elphick, Harte, Smith, MacDonald, Fraser, Rantie

AFCB Ratings
Camp 6, Francis 6, Ward 7, Cook 8, Daniels 7, Ritchie 7, O'Kane 8, Surman 8, Pugh 6, Kermorgant 8, Grabban 7

Cook got my vote for man of the match but it was tight between Kermorgant and Surman as well. 

Monday, 21 April 2014

Mick McCarthy's team could be the dark horse

No one outside of Ipswich has really been talking up Mick McCarthy's team in the Championship play-off race which probably suits Mick. But there is no more disguising the fact that they are in with a chance of snatching sixth place if they can string a good series of results together in the final games. The big clash for them though will be the game against Bournemouth now which is as big a game as they come. Still, if AFCB can win this one there will be an even bigger game on the south coast against Nottingham Forest next weekend.
Ipswich players at Dean Court.
I looked at Ipswich's game before Good Friday and thought that the Watford match was a really tricky one for them away from home. Watford are capable of spoiling anyone's party as we know all too well and it proved to be so for Ipswich. They also have to go to Burnley and play Sheffield Wednesday, so I would not say that they have had the easiest fixtures in the run-in.

Daryl Murphy is getting nothing but praise from Mick McCarthy although he is one of the Championship's strikers who has not been spoken about as frequently as some. Now he has some 15 goals and is rapidly getting noticed in McGoldrich's absence. He even scored against Bournemouth at the Goldsands stadium so Eddie Howe will have done a lot of homework on him.

But have Ipswich got enough about them when it comes to the big games? Well they have beaten teams such as Derby, Brighton and Reading so they can mix it with the big boys. They have only lost to Wigan at home since 15th March. It is whether McCarthy can convince his players that they are good enough yet. I find similarities there with Eddie Howe and the Cherries. The worse result for both teams would probably be a draw but such a result can half be expected in such a big game. Brighton certainly look favourites for the last play-off place, but it's really too tight to call and a slip up now could see anyone of five or six teams snatch it away from the Seagulls.

We're on our way to Portman Road. Singing a bunch of A-ha songs!

Ipswich Home form:

AFCB Away form:

You can still back the Cherries by getting your free bet from Free Bet Negotiator

Cherries will give their all at the great Portman Road stadium

I don't know about you, but when I think of Ipswich Town FC I think of Paul Mariner, Alan Brazil, John Wark, Arnold Muhren and Eric Gates, etc. It's a long time since those names have graced the top tier of English football and I know I am showing my age, but the team that Ipswich had in the 1980s was the envy of Europe and it has been hard for subsequent Tractor Boy teams to emulate anything like what the team under Bobby Robson achieved.  

Just to visit Portman Road though will bring back memories to me of that period in football and when I think how far AFCB have come in such a short period it will eventually hit home at the season the Cherries have had and all the big grounds that the team has gone to. The Easter Monday game is now even more exciting as the crunch match of the season for Ipswich and AFCB. Whoever comes away the worse from this game is surely going to find it too hard to regain enough places for the play-offs with just two games to go. But a draw could equally hurt both teams, so I can't see anything but a full out assault by both teams this afternoon in one of the homes of English football. It should be some game.

My sons are too young to remember Bobby Robson, but they know who Alan Brazil is when he comes over the airwaves on TalkSport. I don't know how many games Alan has attended this season at Portman Road, but I do hope he attends this game as both teams play attacking football and if Alan likes wingers he will find much to like about Bournemouth's present day line runners including a fellow countryman - Ryan Fraser. It is the fiery Scot that has surprised me the most this season with his appetite and hunger to improve and his tenacious running that has rewarded him with more than a few goals this season.
Ryan Fraser - one of the new breed at AFCB that will
be looking to have a big day at Portman Road.
It is on players like Ryan Fraser that AFCB have build a tremendous season and he is one of those who has a big future at the club. But like my boys he may not know too much about some of the massive games that have been held at Portman Road in the past, but just like my Robert and Stephen I bet he can't wait for the match to begin. Let's give our all today and get behind the Cherries - UTCIAD!

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Eddie will want to get things right

I know that Eddie Howe will have been steaming that his side only picked up one point against Yeovil and Sheffield Wednesday. He is a winner and he will not have liked any of  those results and he will probably be questioning himself. I hope he doesn't dwell too long on that. We are all in this together and we are in uncharted ground as far as AFCB are concerned in the table and it is largely because of Eddie Howe that the club is in that position.

AFCB subs at half time against Sheffield Wednesday.
We may like to see our favourite players on the pitch and question why one is not playing when the team is on a bad run, but we don't see how the players are everyday in training and it is sometimes a judgement call how managers see games panning out. Some times the bigger pictures is all important and defeats tell you much more about players they say. Information is good for Eddie Howe, it is what he thrives on, what he seeks to gain and store up like a sponge and to use it to his advantage. It is learning from the mistakes that have made him the manager he is - one of the best in the Championship.

I find it a lesson to all of us how he will listen to someone who wants to offer him an opinion whether they are right or wrong. They may just say one thing that gives him something that they might not even realise. A tactical thinker is always a good listener and Eddie will be picking up the pieces from the last two games and trying to see how he can turn it around. I hope he does it, but if he doesn't I know it won't be because he hasn't tried. Keep the faith! AFCB have not turned into a bad team all of a sudden and the game at Ipswich is a winnable match. Let's enjoy the last few games and show how proud we are of the team.

I have uploaded some pictures of the early season home games of Charlton, Wigan and Blackpool to Cherry Chimes on Facebook. Type in Cherry Chimes to the search tab in Facebook or download the free Cherry Chimes App and check out the photos there and keep up to date on AFCB news from many more sources.