Monday, 21 April 2014

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. 

Getting near the final rounds

We are approaching the final games of a great season for AFCB. Eddie Howe hopes the team can finish on a high and I think the supporters need that too after the games against Yeovil and Sheffield Wednesday have dented play-off ambitions. But even in these final weeks of the season the club is still progressing with the extended contract for Ian Harte and the possibility of one last surge to try and make it into those play-offs. 
There have been many sunny days at Dean Court this season.
In a way it is good to see the disappointment reflected in the player interviews after the Sheffield Wednesday match. We can see how much every game means to them and they can still look to beat two very big teams in Ipswich and Nottingham Forest, that would put a smile back on everyone's faces. That has been what the season has been about - beating the teams that a lot of us never thought possible and doing it with style and pride. It will be a shame when that final whistle is blown, but we will have had a good party and lots of shared memories.

Instead of looking down the table we are still looking up and the future for AFCB has never looked brighter than it is today. The team may feel like boxer who has given their all and is about to face the final three minutes, but as supporters we are still getting right behind the team and hoping that we can land one or two more big punches. The Ipswich defeat at the weekend has given another chance to all the teams chasing Brighton and there just could be a chance for AFCB to steal that sixth place.  

I am certainly not ready to throw in the towel yet and I hope you are not either because the Cherries deserve out support right to the end. We have our infltables already packed and we will soon be heading for Portman Road in good voice. UTCIAD!   

Ipswich v AFCB showdown with TWTD and Cherry Chimes

Match Preview
Ipswich Town v AFCB
Blogger Interview - TWTD

Cherry Chimes gets ready for the huge Easter Monday showdown with Ipswich Town FC by talking to Blair Ferguson from independent Ipswich Town website Cherry Chimes welcomes back Blair to the rival Lines hot seat as the Tractor Boys and the Cherries go head to head in what is probably the game of the Easter period in the Championship - winner takes all! HAPPY EASTER!

CC: Ipswich have been in the Championship for many years so do you think getting promoted would do a lot for the town?

TWTD: I think it would lift the Town massively if they were to be back in the Premier League. There are the obvious things of getting more people into the Town but it would also raise the attendances at Portman Road, which is a great place to start.

CC: How have you done against the teams in the play-off positions this season and would you be confident of getting past them?

TWTD: It’s been a bit of a mixed bag. We’ve drawn against and beaten Derby and recently beaten Brighton at the AMEX, which was a result that really kick-started our promotion push. Because we are relatively late to the party we didn’t do well against some of them earlier in the season but we are a lot stronger now.

If we were to get 6th I think we are more than capable of beating whoever we get. At the time of writing it looks like we would get QPR and although we’ve lost to them twice this season I think we are stronger team to the one we were when we last played them in January.

CC: Do you think Mick McCarthy has what it takes to do well in the Premiership after his experience with Wolves?

TWTD: Mick McCarthy has a lot of experience in the Premier League and I think that would serve us well. With a few additions I think he would make us very hard to beat in any division.

CC: If you don't go up do you think you will hold on to the nucleus of the squad for next season - Johnny Williams seems to be one player that has done well for you on loan?

TWTD: I think it would be very important to keep the squad together. The hardest one to keep hold of will probably be Aaron Cresswell as he’s had clubs sniffing around him for a while now.

‘Joniesta’ has been a real catalyst for our season because he’s brought some much needed creativity behind the strikers. He is a very positive, forward thinking player and I think his positive style of play has rubbed off on some of the other lads and given us confidence to be more adventurous going forward.

CC: The TWTD talks about defender Aaron Creswell a lot so what qualities does he bring to the team?

TWTD: Aaron Cresswell is a great modern day full-back who has the engine to get up and down the pitch but he’s also got plenty of pace. He’s also got the ability to swing in a great cross, is strong from free-kicks and when he wants to can hit a powerful shot.

CC: Do you think the team could have won more games in March or were they just difficult fixtures?

TWTD: I think the game against Middlesbrough is one where we could of picked up some points but we came up against Wigan as they were making their surge up the league, so that was always going to be a difficult game.

The draw with Nottingham Forest is a game I thought we could have taken all three points but on the day they had chances as well.

CC: The Ipswich team we saw at Dean Court had been unbeaten away since September but what has the home form been like to watch of late - are Ipswich supporters nervous or excited?

TWTD: Nervous! Luke Chambers' goal in the dying minutes against Doncaster will have had everyone on the edge of their seat. With every game that pass’ with us getting three-points people start to think that maybe we go get sixth place and get into the play-offs for the first time since ???

CC: Has Daryl Murphy gone under the radar a bit in the media with David McGoldrick doing so well? I remember he scored against us!

TWTD: He’s one of those players that works hard and gets some goals along the way. The reason he has been in McGoldrick’s shadow a bit will be because they are different type of players. McGoldrick has a bit more class to him where as Murphy will usually score from inside the six-yard-box, not that that’s a bad thing!

If both of them were on form together they could form a formidable partnership but Murphy stepped up when Town needed someone to fill the void when McGoldrick got injured.

CC: How well did you feel Ipswich played in your last home game against Doncaster Rovers?

TWTD: Not bad at all! It was a bit of a nervous ending given that they scored a penalty in the 83rd minute but maybe you know it might be your year when you score the winner six minutes later!

CC: With the positions as they are and a top six position at stake would you rather be playing Bournemouth now than a team lower in the league at this stage?

TWTD: I don’t think you want to be playing a team who are in a relegation battle at this stage of the season. We all know that anyone can beat anyone in this division but I’d rather be playing Bournemouth.

CC: What can away supporters look forward to when they come and see the Portman Road stadium?

TWTD: First and foremost it’s a nice stadium with a bit of character to it, unlike some of the modern stadiums that feel as if they are all the same!

CC: What do you think the score will be when Ipswich play Bournemouth?

TWTD: I fancy us to take it 2-0, although we do play better when we go behind so maybe 2-1 is the better option! It will be a tough game given we are both after the same thing but I’d fancy us to edge it.

CC: Thank you for your answers Blair. It has been a long hard season at it will be a pleasure to come and visit Portman Road on Monday. While both teams can't get in the play-offs let's hope that at least one of them does and I also hope that it is a cracker of a game, because it is all set up for a must win for both sides.

For more views on Ipswich Town's season have a visit to it's packed full of information and has a report on Town's last outing away at Watford.

Make sure you send in your score predictions for the game tomorrow and I'll post them up on the site as soon as I can.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Can Eddie pick the Cherries up for Ipswich?

Most of the post-match comments on AFCB's defeat to Sheffield Wednesday seem more about dismay at how come a team that has beaten QPR and Reading at home could look so short of power against a team that had won one of their last five games. That is the Championship though and the Yeovil game highlighted that the Cherries form was perhaps tailing off in front of goal.

Will we see some different names on the team
sheet at Ipswich? I think Eddie needs to roll the dice.
If Grabban really is struggling with an injury I suggest that he is rested despite the great season he has had. If the squad is as good as it is claimed by Eddie Howe then Tokelo Rantie and Brett Pitman have to shoulder some of the attacking weight of the team. It may be that fresh legs are required now and yet Pugh was the only change against Sheffield Wednesday from the starting line up against Yeovil.

AFCB still had the lions share of possession against Wednesday - 64% to 36% and with 16 shots and 7 on target you have to credit the Wednesday defence and Chris Kirkland. While the game has gone I would now expect a shake up for the Ipswich match - yes Arter will be back but I think a couple of other players may have to come in as well - Daniels and Rantie. There is also a case for bringing Elliott Ward back into the back line. I just hope that players who are fit and have zip about them are in the squad and if that means dropping a couple of favourites then so be it. 

Defeated 2-4 by Wednesday but no surrender for the Cherries

I managed to get an Internet access at 4pm yesterday to check on what AFCB's half time score was. I was nervous and hoping for a good start but saw that we were 1-2 down. Not great but Marc had scored and all the other teams in the Championship race for that sixth spot were losing. It wasn't until 6.50pm that I finally got the chance to see the full time results and it was a bit of a shock to see the Cherries well beaten by 2-4 and Sheffield Wednesday having had a player sent off. Still, I think not being at the game it was slightly easier for me to take than if I had been there.
AFCB v Sheffield Wednesday - Thanks to Michael Dunne of All Departments
and View from the Stands for the pictures. 
Eddie Howe said that he wanted to go for the win rather than the draw which I suppose is what you have to try and do when you are up against 10 men but the lateness of Wednesday's goals are going to hurt and I felt sad for my friends who I know will have been at the game and will have left the stadium feeling low.
Half time fun - Mike Botto still standing after his 27 mile charity walk.
Ipswich Town now have a great chance to widen the gap from AFCB to six points if they can beat Leicester City today and that would make Easter Monday's game perhaps Bournemouth's final chance to keep in with a shout of being in the play-off mix come 3rd May. It may be that it is a bit too soon for our players and the frustration of knocking on the door of the play-offs will be a good thing in the long run if they get to a similar position again next season. It's not all over yet though and even Brighton could only manage a draw which leaves the door open if Watford can do those teams sitting outside the play-offs a favour. I did feel that Good Friday would be when AFCB needed to make that move towards that sixth spot, because Brighton and Ipswich on Friday and Reading (today) all faced tricky games. 

But this is a funny old game and as they say, while it is mathematically still possible the players will try and succeed. They will know that even seventh place will bring the club more money and the highest finish possible is something that they can aim for with no pressure now.

It's all eyes on Reading's game today. It still could be a very tight and exciting finish and any team from Blackburn Rovers up could still make the play-offs in my book.
The sun hasn't quite set yet on AFCB's season.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Plenty to celebrate for the Cherries

The flag was out at the Yeovil away day and perhaps it
can still yet have a day at Wembley.
Taking a slightly pessimistic view of things I thought that even if AFCB lost their last four games we couldn't say we have not had a great first season back in the Championship. The fact that AFCB could lose four games at this time and not even have to worry about being caught in any relegation worries says it all for me. A total of 62 points as we have said matches the club's previous best in this division and I do hope that that figures is surpassed in the next few days.

Looking back at the season though we have had some great days. Even when Yann Kermorgant scored that goal against Bournemouth on the first day back in August I thought wow this is going to be an unbelievable season if the opposition strikers are capable of scoring goals like that. Little was I to know that Yann would be lining up for the Cherries in a few months time. 

I also enjoyed going to grounds like Nottingham Forest's City ground and getting one over on their fans with a draw. It will be a highly anticipated match when their fans come down to the Goldsands stadium as we have unfinished business with them and I hope we can do even better against the at home. It was the Reading away game for me that really kick started AFCB's season. We had taken such a large number of supporters and the team was getting so heavily attacked in the first half hour that it showed real fighting spirit to turn the game around and take all three points. There were not many better days than that I thought leaving the Madejski, but I was wrong.

The home games against Leeds, QPR and Reading set a marker for where AFCB now are and what they could become with a bit more work. The team has reached the top half of the Championship and it is now about kicking on in the few fixtures that are left to see what happens. But whatever the outcome, it has been a brilliant season and I hope that more fans buy season tickets for next season as the club's support needs to grow.  

Enjoy the game today - you are watching the best ever team that the town of Bournemouth has ever had. Help them to get another three points and to smash the points record today!