Wednesday, 26 November 2014

The Cherries must keep spirits high

AFCB have not been the hardest hit club in the Championship with injuries before this week with Elliott Ward being the only long term injury among the frequent starters. Now that a double blow has hit the same position, and the striker role, there is a worry that it could have an effect on the squad's confidence. Having seen pictures though of Tokelo beaming with a smile on his face I am keeping my fingers crossed that the players just take this in their stride and look to play even better to give those who are on the sidelines more encouragement to hurry back.
TK went for a big tumble but we want him back on his feet soon.
No injury is ever welcome but managers have to know that they can occur and usually do at the most inappropriate moment. Last season most of the injuries seemed to come in pre-season with Matt Ritchie and Tommy Elphick having to play catch up, but the Championship was bound to test the depth of AFCB's squad at some point.

While the team is strong in wide positions, the central spine of the team is not where you want to have big problems. If the team spirit has been high in recent weeks, the players know that they really have to pull together now to keep things going well without the help of  TK and potentially Callum Wilson for the Milllwall and sevreal more. I expect we will hear more about Callum's pull or strain in the week and if it is just that he needs a bit of rest after a hectic start to the season he may just make the miraculous recovery in time for the Millwall match. The fact that Eddie so quickly came out with thoughts of going into the emergency loan market takes a bit of pressure off of Callum I suppose to come back that soon. While he was clearly injured on Saturday we know that Callum won't want to miss a minute of the season if he can help it.
TK is hopefully still in good spirits.
Positives vibes are important though and if  Eddie has to bring some one in I am sure he will but tomorrow is the deadline. The mood in the camp needs to be good going into the Millwall game and a good result in that game will focus minds on what looks to be a big month for the Cherries.  UTCIAD! 

Finally, well done to the Development Squad and their 8-3 win against Cambridge! Both Jayden Stockley and Harry Cornick bagged hat-tricks. Stephen Purches' thoughts on the game are on the side panel of the blog.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Yann likes scoring at the South End

Yann Kermorgant must have a copyright order on spectacular goals at the Ted MacDougal stand. His volley against Ipswich had everyone in the ground marvelling at the quality of the finish and it is not the first time that he has done that having scored for Charlton in similar fashion against Bournemouth not so long ago. The Frenchmen is undoubtedly a player that has great technique and while some players only score such spectacular goals once in their lifetime, it all seems to come very naturally for Yann.

The goal that Yann scored against Ipswich was simply text book. Commentators were struggling to find the words to do justice to the strike which flew in at such pace that it stunned the Ipswich side. Yann is a big man but can shape himself for such volleys with great elegance and to meet the ball so flush must have even surprised him. No doubt there will be a lot of 5-10 year-olds trying to emulate such a finish in the playgrounds over the next few weeks. It was the kind of picture postcard goal that you only ever see in training books and is hard to match.

Some people have already said that it should be the goal of the season which is quite something when you look back at the goals that AFCB have already scored this season. I personally would go with the team goal against Norwich, but I have no problem with those who say that Yann's goal is of the highest quality, because it certainly was. 

The observant stadium announcer, Mike Botto pointed out that Marc Pugh was shadow practising the scissor kick finish behind Yann Kermorgant as the ball went in. It was good to know that he was getting in line in case Yann missed the ball. Special credit should also be mentioned for Simon Francis' terrific cross and the run of Andrew Surman away from the vicinity of the goal to draw the Ipswich players out and create more space. So while we focus in on Yann's finish, there was a lot more team play involved that you might have first imagined.

Was Ipswich Ritchie's best game yet?

Matt Ritchie was one of the best players on the pitch against Ipswich in my book. He not only scored but was a lively threat all game for the Cherries and was involved in just about all of the team's good work. There are times when you don't get a full 90 minutes out of Matt but he was superb in this match and he more than lasted the distance.
Matt pushed up his season's goal stats to two but was unlucky not to get more.
Matt's first big contribution came in the first few minutes with his shot against the bar. While he beat the keeper he was unlucky not to see the shot go in. He was always keen to receive the ball and moved with his usual great pace, but even more pleasing was his desire to get shots off. If he had just met a cross a bit better a few moments later after Bournemouth had already scored he would also have doubled the lead.

I felt his goal could have been almost been another missed chance as time stood still for a while when Callum Wilson tricked his way pass three Ipswich defenders and levelled the cross at Ritchie's feet. The winger had to get the ball under control before he could direct it towards goal and the Ipswich players were closing him down pretty swiftly. I am still not quite sure how he sqeezed the ball past Mings on the line but it was just in the nick of time that Ritchie got his shot away.

That Ritchie kept going was shown in extra time when he put in the cross down the right for a moment that Brett Pitman will probably want to forget. If only Brett had leaned forward rather than back it is quite likely that Bournemouth would have been celebrating another home win. Still the players recorded another unbeaten game and Ritchie was one of the big positives in this match.

If you look over on Kyle's Cups you'll find that Kyle Cotter has a preview of Everton's Europa league games coming up the first is against Vfl Wolfsburg this Thursday and in December they face FK Krasnodar.

Monday, 24 November 2014

What are the options if no striker can be brought in?

With Eddie Howe looking to find an emergency striker I believe he has a fall back option of Junior Stanislas partnering Yann Kermorgant in the front line if he can't get a suitable transfer sorted. Junior is essentially a winger but I don't see why he could not play off of Yann in a forward role. He has good pace and while he is not as string in physique as Callum Wilson he is not smaller than Tokelo Rantie.
Could Junior do a job up front?
Junior also has a reasonable scoring record and is already wanting to play more games. It is difficult for him to squeeze into the side with Matt Ritchie and Mac Pugh doing so well, but a couple of games as a short-term striker would not be such a bad option in my opinion. 

A second option could be to recall Josh McQuoid from Coventry City. Josh has not been in inspiring form though and it looks like Eddie Howe is ready to let him go as AFCB push for higher quality. That also seems the case with Matt Tubbs at AFC Wimbledon. Jayden Stockley also has not impressed Howe enough to bring him in closer to the first team squad. II have heard Ryan Fraser also being mentioned but I feel Junior is the more likely candidate.

If none of the above please they way Eddie Howe wants to set up the team it could well be that Pitman and Kermorgant have to carry the fight to Millwall. That will nullify the threat of pace through the middle which is essential for stretching teams at the back. The other possibility is for Yann or Brett to play as a lone striker and bring an extra midfielder into the team like Gosling or O'Kane, so Eddie has a lot of thinking to do if Callum is not 100 per cent fit for the Millwall match.

The Cherries are light up front

There has been talk of Eddie Howe looking at the loan market this week for a striker to come in for the injured Tokelo Rantie. The double injuries to TK and Callum Wilson are a massive blow for the Cherries who are riding high in the Championship. With two strikers likely to be unavailable for next week's match squad against Millwall their must be a case of urgency to see who might be available to cover the positions ahead of another busy few weeks in the league.
AFCB have already said that Rantie will be sidelined for a while.

Eddie Howe knows what he wants in a striker to run behind defences and to stretch play, but looking for such a candidate at this short a notice could be tricky. No doubt the club was checking a number of strikers over the summer when they were in the hunt for Callum Wilson. Who is available now though and on what money is the question that AFCB will be keen to find out, but the player has to be a good fit.

Over the summer Eddie Howe was linked with Carlton Cole at West Ham, but he is getting regular football at the Hammers now and played against Everton at the weekend. He has not the pace to get behind defences either for me.  

There are some deals to be had by all accounts, but finding a dynamic front man is difficult and recent calibre of  loan strike moves have not been that pulsating. Danny Graham went to Wolves from Sunderland this month and Gary Taylor-Fletcher also went to Sheffield Wednesday last month from Leicester. Dexter Blackstock at Nottingham Forest recently turned down a move to Sheffield Utd and might be available, but I can't say I'd be racing to get the cheque book out.

Whatever the chase for a player, AFCB are going to be competing against others as well. It is well known that Brighton are in the hunt for a number nine and there are several teams in the Championship that are desperate to bolster their striking power like Charlton, Wigan and Sheffield Wednesday. It is a pity that AFCB have not got a striker in the development squad that they yet feel could make the jump up to the full squad. By dipping into the emergency loan market though AFCB will be left to find a striker who is simply out of favour elsewhere.

Who do you want to come in for a few games? Use the comment section below to post your views on the striker that Eddie should enquire about.

Michael Dunne has also released his All Departments' podcast so you can listen back to the major talking points of the AFCB v Ipswich match by visiting the All Department's website or listen on Cherry Chimes by scrolling down to the All departments sound bar. 

Sunday, 23 November 2014

AFCB pegged back twice by dogged Ipswich 2-2 (videos)

Match Report
AFCB 2 v 2 Ipswich Town
22 November 2014
Attendance: 11,115
The flags were out for the clash between second and fourth.
I don't think the Cherries could have pulled a tougher home match out of the bag after the international break than Ipswich. Mick McCarthy's team are tall and dogged and while they were out played for parts of the game with the Cherries fast movement and close control, the Tractor Boys found their way back twice to earn themselves a hard fought draw in what was always going to be a battle. The struggle saw both Callum Wilson and his replacement Tokelo Rantie have to leave the pitch with injuries, the latter on a stretcher which throws into doubt what personnel will start for AFCB up front next week. But it was Yann Kermorgant who sparkled into life with his spectacular opener for Bournemouth in a first 10 minutes that saw Ipswich Town pulled and stretched to all parts of the ground. That Ipswich recovered after a torrid first half for them is perhaps an indication that their promotion prospects are also gaining strength.
Both teams line up.
Team photo pose.
More pictures of the day can be viewed on the Match Day Gallery.

Eddie Howe kept to the team that served him well at Middlesbrough. That seemed to be a correct call from the start as Francis and Pugh linked up to find Arter and then Ritchie in space and his immediate shot thundered against the cross bar in the second minute. Just when Ipswich thought they had got a let off, Francis gathered back the ball on the right and sent in big cross to the middle of the box where Yann Kermorgant shaped himself for a scissor kick and met the cross precisely to send the ball deep into the left corner of the goal as AFCB supporters went wild! Such a start had us wondering if Ipswich were going to be blown away like Birmingham a few weeks earlier.
The captains in the middle.
AFCB did not slow down but accelerated with Yann Kermorgant stretching Ipswich down the left and after an interchange between Surman, Ritchie and Pugh, the ball came to Ritchie in a great position to score but he missed his kick with the ball hitting his standing leg. Cook then played a cultured chip over Paul Anderson to start another AFCB move on nine minutes, up the left with Daniels and Pugh who had a strong shot saved by Bialkowski and Ritchie's follow up was also spectacularly saved. 

It was time to take a breather, because the Cherries had been breath taking up to this point. Cole Skuse and Tommy Smith started to wrestle some possession back and Daryl Murphy began to get a few touches. Ipswich won a free kick on 13 minutes on their right and while Francis cleared and Pugh collided with Kevin Bru, the danger was cleared. The game was settling down with the Cherries winning another corner before Cole Skuse had a shot deflected at the other end for an Ipswich corner. A big warning of Ipswich's aerial power was then shown as Daryl Murphy thumped his header against the bar on 21 minutes.

Nothing was going to slow the Cherries pursuit of the second goal though and Pugh was unlucky to see his shot blocked . Surman and Arter were enjoying quite a lot of supremacy in midfield. It was after the half hour that Skuse started to get more of an influence, but Ipswich were struggling to find any incision in the last third and on one occasion went from Bournemouth's box all the way back to their keeper. 

As we approached 39 minutes, a Cherries' break saw Francis go clear and race up the right before pulling back a cross which was met by a low, stooping, diving header from Andrew Surman, but it was safely handled by Bialkowski. The score could have been levelled then when Cook slipped and McGoldrick stole in down Bournemouth's left to see his effort parried by Boruc for a corner. From the resulting corner, Christophe Berra spotted a powerful header which Boruc had to tip over. There was just time for AFCB to get up the other end and see Pugh's shot saved, but a 1-0 lead at half time was a great position to be in.

Cherries FanCam: Ipswich fans Jane and Dianne
 talk to Cherry Chimes before the match.
AFCB subs at half time.

Chimes FanCam: AFCB fan Noel gives his half time assessment of the Cherries' performance.

Second Half
There were no changes at half time and Ipswich came out playing the stronger. A move down the left with Skuse and Murphy saw the ball centred to Teddy Bishop and while Tommy Elphick tried to reach the ball, with an outstretched leg, it reached Bishop who calmly slotted it home to make the scores 1-1 on 50 minutes. 

Bournemouth regrouped and Matt Ritchie thought he had broken the offside trap. While he sped on and heard the whistle finally go, he still smashed a shot just wide of the goal and was given a yellow card in return. A moment later though the Cherries were smiling again as Callum Wilson took on three players in the box and as he weaved his way deeper into Ipswich's defence his released ball found Matt Ritchie on the six yard box, and after readjusting his feet, he smashed home Bournemouth's second to retake the lead on 54 minutes.

The game seemed calm for a moment as both sides reassessed the situation. Berra picked up a yellow for a block on Wilson. That was about the last action for AFCB's no 13 as he held his hamstring and was subbed for Tokelo Rantie on 62 minutes. The moment that then changed the game came when Rantie was breaking into the box only for two Ipswich defenders to descend upon him and bring him down. Rantie went down in agony as the AFCB fans yelled penalty! Referee Michel Bull though looked away and carried on with the game. It seemed like at least a minute or so more before play was eventually stopped for Rantie to get some medical attention. After some nine minutes he was stretchered off with a suspected dislocated shoulder.

With Brett Pitman replacing Tokelo Rantie on 71 minutes the game began again. The incident did not seem to have affected the players too much and Arter played a good ball to Marc Pugh who shot from just outside the box. Bialkowski made the most unorthodox one handed save low down that I have seen in a long time, but he kept the powerful shot out. A moment later Tyrone Mings was given a yellow card for pushing players away after Ipswich had already been given a free kick. When the ball reached the left wing, Ipswich won another free kick and this one was much nearer to goal. The ball in was headed on by Daryl Murphy who seemed unmarked and the lead had gone again - it was 2-2!

There was only one team though looking to win the game in the last 20 minutes. Ipswich looked content with the draw and so the time wasting began with a few slowly taken throws and no hurry to restart play.

Mings was subbed by Jonathan Parr on 83 minutes, before Ritchie gave Boruc a lively back pass that kept everyone on their toes. Luke Hyman received a yellow for a foul on Pugh, but it wasn't until the 89th minute that AFCB came close to scoring again with Pugh firing wide. A sign of 12 minutes of extra time went up and the Cherries would have yet more chances to win the game. 

Sammon came on for Bishop on 92 minutes and AFCB started to apply more pressure with a corner and when Pitman found Arter in the box, Harry has a good chance but hit it straight at the keeper. McGoldrick also had an attempt fly well over, but Ipswich were hanging on in truth. AFCB created one last golden opportunity when Ritchie played in a cross from the right and Pitman spooned his shot over the bar!
Hand shakes at the end of the game.
Eddie salutes the crowd.
Players in front of the Ipswich fans.
AFCB still delight and frustrate in almost equal measure. Some of the intricate passing today and the control that Surman and Arter had on the game was a virtual strangle hold on Ipswich. Yet, two simple goals undid all the hard work of the Cherries and they have to find ways of stopping giving teams a life line in matches like this. That said it was a good performance and the Cherries look like they have bags of goals in them. On another day they might have won a penalty and I don't think Ipswich would have come back from 3-1 down, but the referee made his decision. Neither side was that enamoured by Mr Bull, but both teams played out a hard fought game and before the game I had predicted a draw. The worry is what kind of condition are Callum Wilson and Tokelo Rantie in now. 

Boruc, Francis, Elphick, Cook, Daniels, Ritchie, Arter, Surman, Pugh, Wilson (Rantie62, Pitman 71), Kermorgant

Camp, Smith, Rantie, Fraser, Gosling, Stanislas, Pitman

AFCB Ratings
Boruc 7, Francis 7, Elphick 8, Cook 7, Daniels 7, Ritchie 8, Arter 9, Surman 7, Pugh 8, Wilson 7, Kermorgant 8

Bialkowski, Chambers, Smith, Berra, Mings Booked (Parr 83), Bru (Bishop 17), Skuse, Hyam, Anderson, McGoldrick, Murphy

Referee Rating: Michael Bull 2/10 - let lots go first half then lost the plot second half. A poor performance.
Callum Wilson was still walking around after the match
 so hopefully he just had a dead leg. 
AFCB troop off a point gained.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Next period of games even more crucial now for Cherries

AFCB going into the next crop of games in a great position. The matches coming up though will be a serious examination of the club's staying power in the top six. It is apparent that most of the matches at the moment are seeing the top few sides having to play each other and there is a really goo opportunity to create gaps now on the following teams when they drop points. It is unusual for the league to be so tight at the top, but there really does not seem to be much to choose between the sides and I think it makes for a more exciting league than having a run away team.
Having worked hard to get in the top two places,
 the pressure is on now to try and keep up there.
The good aspect is that the Cherries face Ipswich at home as they have momentum coming into the match having won their previous match against Watford. This first match will be billed as another belter as Watford v Derby is the only other game involving two of the top six sides in the first week back after the international break.

The banana skin is surely the Millwall match as they have dropped off from their early season good start and are finding points hard to come by even if they are scoring regularly in games. Two homes games in a row though really set the Cherries up for a busy December and Eddie Howe will be looking for those to games as a springboard to go into the very difficult away match at Wolves. The game at Wolves promises to be one of the best away trips of the season and I am sure there will be a big following of Cherries that make the trip. Wolves are always known to have a boisterous crowd and its the kind of challenge that makes the Championship such a great league to be in.

So if you are going to the game today let's give the Cherries the best possible chance by supporting them loudly all through the 90 minutes. UTCIAD!