Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Has Brett proved a few fans wrong?

I certainly hope Brett has proved a few fans wrong. The Jersey-born striker has been waiting patiently for his chance and could not have repaid Eddie Howe any better than what the Bournemouth manager would have seen last night. Brett has not only demonstrated that he can finish at this level, but he is now going to play much more of a role in this team I would think as the season progresses. The question that all fans will want to know in a couple of games time though is will Yann Kermorgant come back into the team when he completes his three match ban?
Brett had a point to prove and is now in a prime
position to continue his run in the team.
We will know in due course, but the Birmingham game comes first. There is little doubt that Brett and Callum Wilson are very likely to continue their partnership up front as it has been working so well with four goals from the pair in the last two games. I think Eddie Howe must be grinning fairly widely, as his strikers are certainly on form. With Brett and Callum doing so well and Rantie almost scoring when he came on, there are plenty of positives.

The first half against Reading saw no goals though and it is likely that the manager said a few words at half time to get the impact on the pitch that he demanded. While it was Callum Wilson who scored first, Brett's coolness to finish when through on goal that killed the game. Brett also never stops running and bagged a second not long after to make the result look very comfortable, after what had been a very spirited first half from the Royals. The funny thing is, just when Eddie Howe looked sure about his best 11 he might now have reason to think again.



Has Brett just moved ahead of Yann?
It was fitting that Brett was the last man off the pitch last night.

Pitman at the double - AFCB 3-0 Reading

Match Description
AFCB v Reading
21 October 2014
Attendance: 8899 (including 1073 Reading fans)
The home crowd enjoyed another good win although
weather conditions could have been better.
We might have expected Eddie Howe to make one or two changes to his squad for the Reading match, but he decided to keep things as they were for the previous Charlton game, perhaps as a reward for those who had done so well. A settled winning side is not such a bad thing as long as they keep winning. and Eddie Howe clearly felt confident that his side had enough to out shine a Reading side that saw Akpan and Blackman come into the starting line up. The omission of Glenn Murray probably gave the Cherries a lift too.


Match Summary
Reading won the first corner of the game after a Robson-Kanu run. AFCB soon got into their game though, and Daniels and Pugh looked especially strong on the left side. Reading's tempo was said to be better though on the AFCB blog so it seemed we were set for a tense game.

After 15 minutes it sounded like Reading were on top with Akpan having a deflected shot go for a corner. AFCB came back with a cross from Callum Wilson, but none of the AFCB players could get near it. Reading were still pressing though and had another corner on 20 minutes when a shot came in from Hal Robson-Kanu and went over the bar!

It was Robson-Kanu again who then cut inside and shot over a couple of minutes later. AFCB were starting to get a bit more joy once they passed the 25 minute mark, but Reading were also defending well and clearing the Cherries' attacks.

The deadlock was almost broken by Reading when Gunter hit the cross bar/post and the follow up went over! That was on 36 minutes. After 42 minutes AFCB won their first corner - quite a change to the Charlton match when they were 10 a penny. It was shortly followed by a second AFCB corner when Pitman had a shot blocked! AFCB came even closer then when Ritchie's cross, come shot, hit the post! so it was 0-0 at half time.

AFCB had had just two shots in the first half to Reading's seven, and neither team's keeper had been tested with a shot on target. Both teams had won three corners each and committed six fouls each, according to the BBC's stats. AFCB had kept 58 per cent of the possession.

I expected more of the same in the second half with reading pressing, but to our great pleasure AFCB took the lead on 50 minutes when Pugh had dashed down the wing and centred a cross for Callum Wilson to head home at the far post! Yes, a header!! If that wasn't good enough, just four minutes later Brett Pitman latched on to a defensive mistake to make it 2-0 to the Cherries! 

I imagine it was like watching a different game to the first half. What did Eddie say at half time? AFCB then won a couple of corners on the hour mark as they looked to press home their advantage. Just when you thought Reading may put up a fight, AFCB scored a third and Pitman got his second of the night. Ritchie's cross was volleyed in by Pitman on 64 minutes.

Nigel Adkins did his best to get his team more animated as they won a corner and while Norwood got a head to it the Cherries cleared to preserve their three goal lead. Reading made a sub with Cox coming off and Taylor coming on after 71 minutes. AFCB were still forcing the pace with Ritchie supplying a cross for Pitman that was header just wide. 

There was a bit of a scrap in the box moments later, but the referee calmed things down okay with reading players said to be furious. Marc Pugh then looked like he would score with a great volley, but somehow Reading's keeper kept it out. Fraser was then brought on in place of Ritchie on 79 minutes. It was all AFCB now and after another Wilson cross Frederici made another great save from Pitman with 10 minutes to go.

For all the Rantie fans the South African made an appearance replacing Wilson - the AFCB blog went mad in excitement! Reading also brought on the Pogrebnyak for Robson-Kanu. Rantie immediately went clear and had a shot saved! With a minute of normal time remaining Dan Gosling came on for Marc Pugh. 

In the end it was a convincing win for the Cherries that lifts them to eighth in the table and just five points off the top place.

Official AFCB Match Tweets

01: The game is underway here.

02: Reading have an early corner here...

03: A vigilant #afcb defensive line clear the danger. The @SteveFletcher33 North stand are making themselves heard early on! #AFCBvREA

12: Just over 10 minutes gone and #afcb are yet to find their rhythm. It's been a cagey affair so far.#AFCBvREA

18: Wilson capitalises on a slip, but his cross flashes across the face of goal and #readingfc clear. http://bit.ly/1s3Y03U #AFCBvREA

22: Pitman is through on goal but as he waits for the looping ball to drop the #readingfc get back to clear http://bit.ly/1s3Y03U #AFCBvREA

25: Arter's name is chanted from the North Stand as he does well to ease the lively Akpan off the ball. http://bit.ly/1s3Y03U #AFCBvREA

35: Both sides cancelling each other out here so far, with little goalmouth action at either end.

36: And with that, #readingfc carve out the best chance of the game as Gunter's shot comes off the post!

39: A clever corner routine finds Pitman inside the area but his shot takes a deflection and goes out.

44: Pugh's cross then can't find an #afcb player &#readingfc clear. That was the hosts' best chance.
45: What a chance for Ritchie! His curling shot from the right of the area clips the post

Half time: #afcb 0-0

46: The second half is underway.

50: GOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLL to #afcb !bit.ly/1s3Y03U #AFCBvREA

50: It's that man Wilson again! He is unmarked and makes no mistake, heading home Pugh's cross to give #afcb the lead. 1-0. #AFCBvREA

55: GOOOOAAAAALLLLLLL to #afcb!


55: #afcb capitalise on a defensive error and Pitman keeps his cool to slot home from inside the area. 2-0!

63: GOOOOAAAALLLLLLLL to #afcb !

64: Pitman has his second of the night, as he volleys home Ritchie's corner! 3-0 to #afcb !

Tonight's attendance is 8,899, with 1,073 #readingfc supporters. Thank you for your support.

72: Pitman, off-balance, heads Francis' cross comfortably wide. #afcb fans are chanting the striker's name.

73: A goalmouth scramble ends up in an #afcb free kick in their own area - but #readingfc are furious!

77: What a save from Federici! He somehow gets his body in the way to block Pugh's effort at the far post

80: Federici is playing a blinder! He again makes a save from point blank range, this time denying Pitman.


83: Wilson deservedly receives a standing ovation as he is replaced by Rantie. That's four goals in three games for Wilson.

86: Rantie almost has an immediate impact as he forces a save from Federici from a tight angle
 

90: We had no subs on Saturday, but tonight we have 3! Pugh is replaced by Gosling in #afcb's final change.
90+1: There will be four minutes of additional time to be played here. #afcb still lead 3-0.

FULL TIME: #afcb 3-0 #readingfc. What a night! Full report and reaction to come on http://afcb.co.uk . #AFCBvREA

AFCB:
Boruc, Francis, Cook, Elphick, Daniels, Pugh, Arter, Surman, Ritchie, Wilson, Pitman.

AFCB subs: 
Smith, Harte, Gosling, Stanislas, Fraser, Rantie, Camp

Reading:
Federici, Gunter, Obita, Hector, Pearce, Norwood, Akpan, Robson-Kanu, Cox, Mackie, Blackman.

Reading Subs:
S Kelly, Cooper, Kuhl, Taylor, Stacey, Pogrebnyak, Andersen

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Cook and Elphick are making Cherries hard to beat

Just a few hours before the match against Charlton, Tommy Elphick signed a new extension to his AFCB contract that now keeps him at Dean Court until June 2017. It comes as no real surprise that the popular captain wants to stay longer at the club having shared in the success since his arrival in 2012. Tommy goes about his work quietly and calmly, and is one of the reasons why the Cherries have looked less flustered at the back in recent times. His partnership with Steve Cook is maturing into one of the best centre back pairings in the Championship.
Tommy Elphick was keen to sign up for a few more years at AFCB.
It is likely that AFCB fans will see a lot of Tommy and Steve this season as Elliott Ward is not going to feature before Christmas, if his recovery goes the full expected length of time. A year ago Eddie Howe may have stressed a bit about the pressure on Cook and Elphick to get the clean sheets that the club needs to be a force in this division, but the two of them have shown that they are right at the peak of their game and are enjoying the challenge of marking the Championship's lead marksmen. Having to train with Callum Wilson every week they probably are pleased when they face other strikers that are not quite so lively, and the timing of some of the tackles that we see now from Tommy and Steve should be celebrated as much as the goals at the other end.

Steve Cook made some amazing challenges on Ahearne-Grant in the Charlton match in the first half were simply tenacious and must have been wholly satisfying for him as he even stop the forward sitting on the grass in Bournemouth's penalty area. The margin for error is minor in this league and yet even when Cook does not stay on his feet he manages to come out smiling these days. It is just the same for Tommy Elphick, although you'll usually see Tommy winning the aerial contests and stabbing his foot in on the ball to stop the opposing forwards from getting set to shoot. The art of defending is certainly in good hands at AFCB while they can keep Elphick and Cook on their books. 
Steve Cook is keeping the goals out with Tommy Elphick at the back.
The talk is certainly on achieving more now in terms of where the team can finish this season and for that to happen the team has to become meaner in defence. We have seen two clean sheets against Wigan and Charlton, and now the test will be to carry on that form against a Reading side who Eddie Howe has stated will be keen to avenge last season's result at the Goldsands. But Cook and Elphick can set their own record by seeking that third clean home sheet in a row, and if they can do it the fans should recognise the great job that the two central defenders are consistently doing now.

Don't forget to have a look at the Tilehurst Blog that should have some of my pre-match thoughts up today. They also have an excellent podcast that previews the match and talks about Reading's form going into tonight's match.

You can also get a voucher for your next bet if you back a team through Free Bet Negotiator. UTCIAD!

Is Adkins under pressure as Reading come to Dean Court?

Nigel Adkins has not enjoyed a good run of results with his Reading team of late. The Royals have dropped to 16th in the league, but it is the manner of the defeats that will start to be piling pressure on the former Saint's manager. In their last four games Reading have conceded three goals a game in three of the four matches. Losing that many goals has seen their goal difference slip to -5, and the Royals will come to Dean Court looking to reverse the trend of recent games.
Nigel Adkins may just be finding the manager's seat getting a little hot at Reading.
It's the finishing of the Reading strikers that has been poor. While AFCB have been rattling in the goals with Callum Wilson consistently finding the net, it has not been quite the same for Reading. Their big threat is Glenn Murray who joined on loan from Crystal Palace in the summer, and while he has scored three in five games he has not been as available to start matches as much as Adkins would have liked, and two of those three goals came on his debut against Fulham. Simon Cox we know well from his Forest years, but he is back at the club where he started his career and will be another man that Elphick and Cook are likely to be up against on Tuesday night. 

Looking at their last match against Derby I was most impressed with Hal Robson-Kanu who looked most likely to score for Reading. The winger was subbed on 70 minutes in that game and has not scored this season, which may be hurting his confidence as he had good opportunities to score against Derby. That can also be said of Pavel Pogrebnyak who missed a sitter after he came on late in their last match. 

So the front line of Reading has been blunt of late and Nigel Adkins side has also been getting punished at the other end. Against Leeds though they did manage a goalless draw, so Eddie Howe will know they can defend well away from home on their day. Reading need a turnaround in fortune and AFCB must look to again get that all important first goal to really test the resolve of this Reading team who have had no win in their last five.

Reading's away form:
LWLDL

AFCB home form:
LDLWW

I was kindly asked by the Tilehurst End Blog to answer some of their questions on AFC Bournemouth ahead of tonight's game against Reading FC, so if my answers were not too bad they should appear on their site at some point today. 

"Allez, Allez, Allez OOOO, Allez, Allez, Allez OOOO. Allez, Allez, Allez OOOO - AFCB!" I expect a few will be singing that tonight, UTCIAD!

Monday, 20 October 2014

Pitman and Wilson partnership promises much

Someone had to come in for Yann Kermorgant on Saturday and Brett Pitman was given the task. I felt he did the job very well and just like Yann he found plenty of chances to try and feed the ball through to Callum Wilson who may have upped his goal count quite significantlymore than just the one goal on another day.

It may be that some fans will say well how many shots did Pitman have and how often did he force the keeper to make a save? True, Brett did not have many shots on target and he found it tricky to get into great shooting positions. What I did like though was his endeavour and energy which was as high as anyone in the team. Brett will know that this is his chance and he has to put everything he has into these games now that he has got a starting place.
Callum Wilson is looking at home at AFCB.
While it could have been hard for the team if Callum and Brett had not clicked as well, there was clearly some good understanding, which must have been helped by training work in the last two weeks. It should not matter who puts the chances away as long as AFCB are creating them, and with Brett and Callum up front I see know reason why both strikers can't get on the score sheet in the upcoming games. However, a quick look at the stats would suggest that the team needs to hit the target more often. While they made 20 shots against Charlton only five of them were on target.

Pitman is right where he wants to be and his desire
 for a goal will hopefully be satisfied in the next few games.
It may be that Rantie also gets the chance to have some minutes on the pitch while Yann is not available, and he will also need to make those minutes count if they come. The pleasing feeling for Eddie Howe though should be that he has options, and having not used any substitutes on Saturday it is likely that he really now knows what his strongest team is and is not going to tinker too much when the players on the pitch are doing a good job.  

There have been some important discussions held with the various Forum groups this month at the club, and AFCB has reports of both the Family Focus Supporter's group meeting and General Supporter Group One meeting now up on the official AFCB website.

Cherries can feel satisfied as home form picks up

It has not been an easy start to the season. The Cherries have not blown everyone away at Dean Court and yet you sense that the team has turned the corner of late and is now finding ways of winning at home. The match against Charlton was not the struggle that has been so evident in many of the other home matches this season. The team were without the talisman of Yann Kermorgant, and yet the players were hungry and energised in a way that gave the impression that they had no doubts that they would win this game.
There's plenty of things for Eddie Howe to be smiling about.
The satisfying point for me was that AFCB won the game having created many chances and not facing the last 20 minutes with all outfield players rooted to the defensive last third of the pitch in front of AFCB's goal. The game management that Eddie Howe so often talks about was carried out with more precision, and intelligence, and the home fans were in good voice, which I am sure helped the players to feel that they could go on to keep the clean sheet and win the game. 

For once I was not concerned that the Cherries could only score one goal. They came close to a second on a number of occasions and Charlton have not conceded many goals all season. AFCB kept going forward though even when the Addicks went three at the back with 12 minutes to go and put Bikey Amougou up front. Both Cook and Elphick defended without too many difficult moments on the day and with Boruc you know that there are not going to be any spills or lapses in concentration from him.

Having won against Wigan, Bolton and now Charlton, the team is closing in on the top teams and on hearing that much hard work has been carried out during the two week break, fans can feel satisfied that the Cherries are moving in the right direction.

The new All Departments' podcast is out now. Just scroll down the right side panel to the sound bar or visit All Departments' website to listen to the review of AFCB 1 v 0 Charlton.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Pugh's hard running is creating chances

Marc Pugh is being pushed for his place in the team more now than at any other point in his career I believe. His response has been to knuckle down and provide the kind of service that Callum Wilson and others can profit from. You don't see quite so many fancy turns, it's more a case of beat your man and get the cross in - and it really paid off on Saturday.
Pugh's zippy wing play is providing chances for AFCB's strikers.
The goal against Charlton showed the strength and acceleration of Pugh as well as his ability to find Callum Wilson in space. Pugh put in a great number of crosses on Saturday and his work rate demonstrated that he was a good choice for a starting place. For once Marc was also allowed to have the full 90 minutes and in the second half, when he ran up besides the Family stand, we did not see any drop off in performance. He still managed to win a fair few corners and by doing so kept the pressure on Charlton in those closing minutes.

Had Marc been a bit more fortunate in the first half he might have got on the end of one of Francis' crosses as well. Still it was a performance that had me pondering if it is more important for Pugh to keep getting to that byline and pulling back low crosses rather than hitting so many deep high balls into the box? There were only a few headed attempts on goal and those mainly came from Steve Cook, who launched himself at corners and set pieces trying to build on AFCB's lead. We know that AFCB like to play the ball on the ground and when the team has two sharp finishers in and around the box like Wilson and Pitman, it would make sense to me for Pugh and Ritchie to try and whip as many low balls back to these two as possible, when wingers are racing down to the byline.

The amount of space that Wilson was afforded in the box is all that he needed to turn a good cross into a goal. It's a split second of thought to make that movement and to redirect the pass towards goal and the speed of Bournemouth's attack, from Pugh's actions, made the goal look very simple. That AFCB only managed to score once though probably proves that it is not so simple to do and Pugh's ability to beat his man has once again opened the door for the win. So while we recognise Wilson's great finish, don't forget that Pugh was instrumental in getting the win against Charlton.