Sunday, 31 March 2013

Can AFCB achieve back-to-back wins this Easter?

Monday's match against Scunthorpe Utd could not be bigger. Having won on Friday at Colchester Utd, AFCB will look to prove their promotion credentials against the Irons at home. It will not have escaped the League One table watchers that a win for the Cherries could well take them top again, with Doncaster Rovers only two pints ahead and playing promotion rivals Swindon Town in the day's early kick-off.

Bournemouth's pre-match concerns will largely be focused on the fitness of those who had a hard game against Colchester. Eunan O'Kane who had a foot injury during the first half of that match tweeted on Saturday that he was on crutches, so Shuan MacDonald is likely to come in to the team again. T
he match fitness of Tommy Elphick and Charlie Daniels will also be on the manager's mind having seen them only recently return to the side. It is possible that some fresh legs might be needed as well and I would not be surprised if Wes Fogden or Josh McQuid see some action if Pugh needs a rest.

Eddie Howe has stuck with the running power of Lewis Grabban up front despite his current goal drought. Lewis just needs to put one of his chances away to get his confidence up again, everything else he does is good as he is stretching defences and linking up extremely well with Pitman. This is crucial for team as it enables them to create space and goal scoring opportunities. Pitman, himself, has found another gear and just can't stop scoring which is fabulous for the team.

With the back four notching up another clean sheet against Colchester, AFCB's defence too is looking in fine form and the Irons really have a difficult test ahead of them.

The Irons come to Bournemouth on the back of a 2:1 home victory against Leyton Orient. They still lie 20th in the league though, one point above the relegation zone with Oldham having two games in hand on them. The pressure on them is massive as they look to beat the drop.

Karl Hawley is Scunthorpe's main striking threat. He has 8 goals this season. He may well be partnered by the much travelled Nigerian born Akpo Sodge with Mark Duffy in support. Both of them have six goals this season.

The writing has been on the wall for the Irons having not surpassed the dizzy heights of 18th position all season. Manager Brian Laws knows that his side face an up hill struggle to stay in League One, but he has had a reaction from the players in their last game. 


W
hen Laws returned to manage the team for a third time, at the end of last October, I expect he thought Scunthorpe would not be fighting for survival at this stage of the season. However, the former Championship side is still finding life in League One hard.

Much of this match will be about recovery from Friday's game and whether the Cherries can burst the back of the net with the kind of finishing they showed in their last home game against Bury. I think for Scunthorpe it could be an exercise in damage limitation. Bournemouth are in confident mood and are looking see if they can take one of the automatic promotion positions. They seem very focused and determined now.

When the teams last met on 8 December 2012, the Cherries had a 2:1 away win in the middle of their long unbeaten run. Goal scorers for the Cherries that day were Grabban and Fogden.

Well done to Andy Burton for predicting an away win for the Cherries last match can any one get the score right for this one?


Scunthorpe Away form:
DLLLL

AFCB Home form:
WLLLW
 

Friday, 29 March 2013

Cherries win should have been so much bigger

Match Report
29 March 2013
Colchester Utd 0 V 1 AFCB

Attendance 4747

The visit of AFCB to Colchester was expected to be a battle according to Eddie Howe. He wasn't wrong. The first task was to arrive early and find a parking space in Colchester that would not cost you a second mortgage. Luckily we managed to squeeze into a tight spot on a quiet col-de-sac. Mission one accomplished.

Colchester also have an Eddie - their mascot
The next part of the deployment included a short shuttle bus ride to the Weston Homes Community Stadium and then we had the pleasure of battling the cold elements to see AFCB gather another three points, which to be honest they should have wrapped up by half time.



AFCB players warm up
Eddie Howe only made one change from the last game against Bury with Tommy Elphick coming back into the starting line up to captain the team. Dan Seaborne was the player to miss out. The Cherries had a great amount of support for the game, in excess of 1500
I would say, and they were in great voice for the entire game.



The players come onto the pitch

The players came onto the field through a guard of Jacobean guards with staves at the ready but the battle on the pitch is what we had come to see. Colchester started the brighter with Ibehre taking the first shot in anger, having cut in from the right, but Allsop gathered easily. Matt Ritchie was enjoying some space on the right wing and crossed to Grabban who almost got in on the far post. Ritchie then saw another shot go to the left of the goal as the early exchanges began to excite the crowd.

Colchester hit back with Ibehre and Compton taking shots and Francis manfully blocking. All the best work for the Us was being directed by Clinton Morrison who was feeding players left and right of the centre D of Bournemouth's box.

The Cherries were trying to get Ritchie on the ball at every opportunity. When Pugh managed to get round the back of the U's defence on 11 minutes he pulled back a pass to Lewis Grabban who hit a tame shot in at the keeper to save.

Colchester responded again with Morrisson and Massey having shots blocked, before Ibehre shot wide. Francis was working hard at the back but had moments when he could get forward and he crossed to O'Kane who had a shot charged down. Colchester's Compton also had a header easily saved by Allsop.

This was turning out to be an encounter with lots of opportunities around the boxes but no one was finding enough space to get a clear sight of goal. O'Kane and Grabban were playing smart one-twos, but Grabban could only shoot straight at the keeper on the quarter hour mark.

The wind was against the Cherries in the first half, but they soon felt the wind behind them when Francis' free kick from the right was met with Pitman's cross header pass to Ritchie on the right, who then found Pitman again in the six yard box, and Brett slotted home the first goal to Walker's left on 19 minutes. Let the celebrations begin!

On 22 minutes AFCB had a free kick to defend on their right but Pitman cleared. Brett's all round game was setting him apart from everyone on the pitch. It was then then O'Kane picked up a yellow card for holding back Morrisson on the half way line. A few moments later Eunan came off worst in a midfield crunching tackle with Morrisson and he had to be subbed for Macca on 28 minutes.

Colchester were trying to press and play a fairly high line so Arter had been trying to lob and prod balls forward from midfield for Grabban in particular to try and run on to.

Meanwhile, Eddie Howe was busy scribbling notes on the sidelines as Cherries looked to build on their lead. Arter almost provided the cross for Pugh to do exactly that, but the post came to Colchester's aid.

Tommy Elphick was given a loud cheer then when he made an interception before Massey had a sight of the Cherries' goal. The end of the half saw Bournemouth gaining more possession and seeking that elusive second goal. Daniels and Pugh were charging up the left while Pugh's cross on 39 minutes found Pitman with a free header which was deflected for a corner. Grabban's header from the resulting corner was simply saved.

The end of the half was coming when Arter threaded a great ball through to Grabban who ran some 20 yards with the ball past Colchester's back line before screwing his shot wide of the goal. The whole of the away support sighed in disappointment - that should have been the game, then and there. And Lewis had all of half time to think about the miss!

My half time was particularly pleasant as I bumped into two old school friends who I had not seen since the 1980s! At that time we had been watching Harry Redknapp's Barmy Army reach the second division, I hoped that meeting my old friends was a good omen for this season.

The half time talk for Colchester obviously had them fired up as they came out full of intent, quickly winning a corner and pressuring our back four. Pitman escaped with a run down the right wing, hounding Garmston. Brett hit the deck, although the referee gave nothing much to the anger of the Cherries' support.

Grabban and Ritchie managed to get Francis down the right and he sped past the left back to find himself closing in on goal. As everyone waited for the slide rule cross pass, Francis decided to try his luck, but he held his head in his hands as his hard shot went straight to the keeper.

Arter was next to speed down the left from half way as he found himself with a chance to put the Cherries two up but he couldn't beat Colchester's keeper either. It was at this time when I thought will any of these missed chances going to come back to haunt us? All that Colchester could do though was to blast at goal aimlessly with Massey the next culprit.

Meanwhile, Macca had not really been seen as an attacking force, but when he did break through the centre everyone was yelling at him to ''shoot!'' Sadly he decided to find Ritchie instead and another chance had slipped by.

Bournemouth were really in control now and there was a move that was Premiership quality as Grabban stretched the play diagonally from the right to the left with his run. The ball was crossed over and Pitman dummied it for Arter to run on to, but the shot was saved.

in another move, Co
lchester's Garmston threw himself at the ball when it had been laid back for Ritchie to hit with all his might. The shot would have been on target but Garmston took the full impact of the shot and he did not recover. John White came on to replace Garmston after 64 minutes.

While Colchester were winning the odd corner it was Allsop that was in charge of his box coming out to take cleanly with great authority. Colchester made another sub on 71 minutes with Compton being replaced by Wright, then Morrisson came off and Michael Smith entered the fray on 73 minutes.

Bournemouth had another good spell with Arter firing over and  Elphick not quite getting a clean headed contact from a corner. Colchester were not having much of the ball but when Clifford did take shot he also blazed over to hoots of joy from the Cherry fans.


Bournemouth were next to make a sub with Tubbs replacing the luckless goal shooting boots of Grabban and w
ith Hughes coming on for Pugh, time was nearly up. The referee gave six minutes of extra time. This was played out without much danger, although Pitman managed to get into a conflict with Bond and Bournemouth supporters were screaming for the ref to send Bond off. Wright it was though who picked up a booking though after the ref had sorted things out.

Summary
Three points well earned. Allsop had nothing to do virtually all match and while we created enough chances to win six or seven games it was just a shame that the team did not win more comfortably to improve that goal difference. The stats say it all really, AFCB 14 shots and 10 on target, Colchester 9 shots, 3 on target. While Bournemouth did not score a hat load of goals, some of the credit for that must go to Walker in Colchester's goal.

Furthermore, Bournemouth recorded another clean sheet. We move up the league and managed a victory at a ground that has not been that kind to us in the past. I'll take that.

Oh, yes! Almost forgot,  I am glad my prediction was wrong. 1:1 would have been an injustice.

All over, another three points!
Player Ratings

Allsop 7, Francis 7, Cook 7, Elphick 7, Daniels 7, Ritchie 8, Arter 8, Pugh 7, Macca 7, Pitman 9, Grabban 6

AFCB subs not used:

Jalal, Fogden, McQuoid, Seaborne

Colchester Team

Walker, Garmston, Okunghae, Wilson, Thompson, Clifford, Bond, Morrisson, Ibehre, Massey, Compton



We can all look forward to Easter Monday now

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Easter's double headers explored

With Eddie Howe already stating that this weekend's double header games can be season defining in that  two wins can transform your season and two defeats can leave it in ruins, Cherry Chimes has decided to take a closer look at the games involving the top sides in League One to see where the points are likely to be won and lost.

Before you get too agitated, this is just a bit of fun and I am the world's worst football score predictor, but let's give it a go.


The key fixtures for the Cherries are away to Colchester Utd on Good Friday and at home to Scunthorpe on Easter Monday. Some might say that we have the easiest fixtures of the top six over the Easter period but league positions don't really tell you how well a team will play on the day and I think both games will be hard fought.

While six points would be tremendous, I feel that four points from these games would still be a very good return, so I am going for a 1:1 draw at Colchester and a 2:1 home win against Scunthorpe.


Now for our competitors:
Friday's games
Coventry 1 v 3 Doncaster
Swindon 2 v 0 Oldham
Brentford 0 v 0 Notts Co

Tranmere 0 v 1 Sheff Utd
Yeovil 1 v 3 Walsall
Scunthorpe 2 v 1 Orient

Monday's games
Doncaster 0 v 1 Swindon  

MK Dons 2 v 0 Brentford
Portsmouth 1 v 1 Tranmere
Sheff Utd 3 v 0 Carlise

Notts Co 2 v 1 Yeovil
Walsall 1 v 1 Coventry

Leyton Orient 2 v 0 Bury

Now I have to get my slide rule and abacus out to see how the table might look on Monday night. Here goes - I am sure one of you will tell me if I need a new calculator.

                                        P        GD       Points
1. Doncaster                 41         19        75
2. Swindon                    41         37        73

3. Sheff Utd                   39         21        71
4. Bournemouth            42         15        71
5. Brentford                   40         12        68
6. Tranmere                  42         14        67

7. Walsall                      42          7         65
8. Yeovil                        41          9         64

9. Oreint                       42           5         64
10. *Coventry                42         11        61

*Please note Coventry are likely to have a 10 point deduction which would rule them out of promotion contention for this season.


In this scenario it would be difficult for AFCB to get automatic promotion, but stranger things have happened and there would still be enough points to play for. Still, it shows you how two wins for anyone in the top six would be massive now. I have only given that honour to Swindon here, but I am sure at least one team in the top six will do it, while someone is likely to lose two - I picked on Yeovil.

Well let's hope I have it slightly wrong and AFCB are sitting in second place or even top on 73 points on Monday night.

Why don't you have a go at this as well?

For those who haven't yet worked out their three teams to get promoted see the side bar and cast or change your vote before it's too late.

Can the Cherries keep the winning run going at Colchester?

AFCB have a tough fixture at Colchester United on Good Friday that they need to win if they are to keep their promotion push on course. Their recent record against the U's has not been great having won only once against them since 2011, with two draws and two defeats.

The Cherries have not won at Colchester's ground in recent fixtures but they did win at home when the teams last met in December by one goal to nil. It's up to the Cherries to go and improve that record with another win and hopefully up their goal count at the same time.


Colchester's game against MK Dons was postponed on 23 March due to safety reasons with the bad weather, so they will be well rested for AFCB's visit. Colchester currently sit 19th in the league and are not safe from relegation yet so it is a very important fixture for them as well as Bournemouth. In their last game the U's came from behind to beat Bury 2:1 away with Michael Smith and Clinton Morrison on the score sheet. They managed that victory with George Porter having been sent off for them in the third minute as well. By the way, Porter is now suspended for Bounemouth's visit.

It's former West Ham player, Freddie Sears who leads the goal scoring chart for Colchester on 8 this year, but Jabo Ibhere is just behind on 7. Sears has been carrying a knee injury though and he is likely to be a doubt for Bournemouth's visit.

It is most likely that the experienced Clinton Morrison will be in the starting line up to face the Cherries. He is a Republic of Ireland international player and is also well known for his playing days at Sheffield Wednesday. The U's also have good pace Jack Compton, while Gavin Macey is a regular winger for the U's so there is lots for the Cherries to guard against when they play on Friday.

Joe Dunne was only appointed Colchester manager in September 2012 after the sacking of John Ward.

The Cherries will be taking a very strong squad to Colchester with only long-term absentees Miles Addison, Stephane Zubar and Stephen Purches unavailable for selection. The Cherries bench is going to be hard enough to get onto let alone the starting eleven.


Colchester's Home form

LWLWL

AFCB's Away form
WLLWW

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Is Tommy Elphick ready to lead AFCB out against the U's?

Every day Tommy Elphick will be getting fitter and stronger as his recovery continues. Eddie Howe must know that Tommy is desperate to get back into the team, but he cannot take any risk on bringing him back too soon. It is evident that Dan Seaborne made the mistake that led to the Bury goal last match but he also made a great last ditch tackle in that game as well. The difficulty of when to rest players and when to select them is always hard, even with the sport science analysis that AFCB has to hand.

In some ways I think gut instinct of the manger and player must be the main factors in such decision making although others like the physio and coaches will have to provide input as well. If Dan Seaborne and Steve Cook can keep clean sheets they are likely to stay as the central pairing but each time mistakes lead to goals for the opposition it will be tempting for Eddie to bring Tommy back into the side.

I  just hope that when he is picked it is not too soon. It maybe that AFCB will need him most in a play-off match or even the play-off final and if it takes until them for him to be fully fit then so be it. Match fitness of course is another problem as Tommy will not be getting the time on the pitch he needs if he stays sat on the bench.

There have been lots of calls to get Tommy back in the starting 11, but Eddie did not feel that he needed to do this last weekend and Tommy admitted that he was still feeling some niggles during training. The question is should he be in the team for the Colchester game? My gut feeling is that Eddie may well bring him back.  

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

AFCB's League One Family Award was well deserved

I was absolutely delighted to hear that AFCB had won the League One Family Club of the Year Award at the Brewery in London on Sunday night. The club has done some fabulous things for families like the special family days, when prices are lowered and there are lots of activities for the younger Cherries, and the brilliant Junior Cherry scheme which is bursting with new members all the time. My boys particularly like it when we get to the ground early and they can play under the Main stand for a while with Cherry Bear and their friends.

I expect that this Easter there will also be a lot of fun at Dean Court for visiting families with a packed schedule already organised by the look of the information in the last match day programme. 


I would like to think that the award gives a bit more of a balanced view of some of the pricing at the club, which was rather unfairly given a one-sided view by the BBC's League One survey earlier this season that took the most expensive ticket for the basis of its research.

The Junior Cherries will hopefully become the future of our fan base and it is vital that the club does everything it can to attract more young members. To see so many young faces around the ground always pleases me and it is great that so many families enjoy their day when they come to the Goldsands Stadium. Well done to all the staff at AFCB who helped win the Family Award. It just shows everyone inside and outside of the club that it is another aspect that AFCB has got right. 


I hope that Cherry Chimes can, in some small way, also offer the Family stand a bit of a voice and give all Cherry fans a chance to express their opinions about anything concerning the club.

Putting smiles on people's faces is what it is all about. We have a great club and so many people that are really trying to make a difference to try and get AFCB where the supporters, players and management want the club to be.

Monday, 25 March 2013

AFCB Goals, goals and more goals please

There was a comforting feel good factor that ran through Saturday's victory over Bury FC, AFCB managed to score four goals. It's something that home fans have not seen since the 4: 1 win against Oldham Athletic back in November last year. While the Cherries have been among the leading goal scorers for this season in League One, since the start of February the team had only scored three goals in home matches. Those goals came against Portsmouth and Doncaster Rovers.

What was especially pleasing was that AFCB had four different scorers on Saturday in Pitman, Ritchie, Arter and Tubbs. Spreading the goals around is something that the team has managed fairly well this season. Pitman now joins Grabban in 13 goals at the top of the table for AFCB goalscorers this season and I'd bet on Brett being at the top of the pile come mid-May.

Of course goals now have another value when looking the the tight League One Table. Bournemouth have not got the best goal difference with Swindon Town far ahead on a massive goal difference of 34, but AFCB should aim to close up on Sheffield Utd's 17 goal difference. If goal difference means the difference of playing at home first or second in a play-off match then we have seen how it helps to be at home for the second game when we played Huddersfield two seasons ago.

Some commentators have said the team are silly to talk about automatic promotion any more and they could be right, but nobody knows that yet. It was always said that points on the board are best to have at this stage of the season rather than games in hand. I can understand that  often quoted phrase as fixture congestion is going to take its toll on some of the teams in the coming weeks and the pressure to get results is really on now. Bournemouth have not got the worry of fixture congestion and if they win their remaining games it will be a big total for other teams to overcome. 


There is no need to be negative at this stage. Yes we have less games to go than our rivals for promotion. A few more wins and a better goal difference will put AFCB in contention with those looking to sneak a place in the Championship. Games in hand do not mean points in the bag and some of the challenging teams at the top of the table still have to play each other.

Let's just wait and see how many points we can get. We are not even 100 per cent certain of being in a play-off place yet. UTCIAD!  

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Cherries find their goal stride against Bury

Match Report

AFC Bournemouth 4 V 1 Bury FC
Attendance 7229
23 March 2013
Luther Blisset pre-match with Michael Batto
Bury FC players warm up
It has been a long time since the home crowd were treated to more than one goal from the Cherries at Dean Court, but today the goal drought was well and truly ended. Bury were not lambs to the slaughter by any means. They had plenty of opportunities to make the day a difficult one for Eddie Howe's team and in the first half they frustrated and confounded the Cherries for large periods of the game. But what made the difference for me was the desire and constant threat that the Cherries posed from both wings and the tireless chasing from Pitman who acted as a spearhead for AFCB attacks all game.
Teams come out to start the match

The start of the match saw Bournemouth play confidently for the opening minutes before there was a devastating break down the Cherries left by Worral, Bury's No 7 who powered past Seaborne and shot right across the Cherries' goal. There was a stunned silence at the pace of Bury's wing man and his hard hit shot. Early warning noted!

O'Kane started a great move a few minutes later that Pitman and then Pugh were involved in before Ritchie got a header in at the Bury keeper. It was from the resulting efforts of Bury defenders trying to move the ball back up the field that O'Kane got onto the ball and threaded a pass to Pitman who found himself bearing down on the Bury keeper. He chose to go round him to the right, leaving an acute angle to slot home from, putting AFCB 1:0 up after just 8 minutes. AFCB fans were buzzing! Just what we needed an early goal.


From the re-start it looked like the Cherries were at it again, but Grabban fired wide. Seaborne an Cook were dealing well with Bury's aerial preference for the game and Bournemouth pressure continued with Pitman holding the ball up well up field. A loud cheer then went out as Tommy Elphick did some warming up with Tubbs on 15 minutes.

Bury were finding Worral in space on the right and on he picked out Craig Jones but he couldn't quite reach the ball on the edge of AFCB's six yard box as it sped away. Arter was sitting in midfield ensuring that AFCB kept possession while O'Kane was trying to pick out the dangerous through balls, even if he was only succeeding in finding the opposition most of the time. Bury's keeper was actively employed having to clear before Grabban, and Pitman almost got on the end of a Daniels cross shortly after but he missed his kick.


AFCB had been well in control when Seaborne tried to cushion a low header to Daniels at the back only to feed Jones who crossed for Bishop to rise and power his header home on 23 minutes. The nerves in the home crowd were back again. All square at 1:1.


AFCB immediately tried to gain the upper hand again with Grabban claiming for a penalty on 26 minutes which was waved away, while Ritchie blasted a free kick against the Bury wall on the edge of the 18 yard box. The Cherries then had Seaborne to thank when he managed to just get a toe in ahead of a fast sprinting Bishop on 31 minutes who would have been in on goal but for the last ditch tackle.

We had not seen much of Arter as an attacking force but when he did get fed a pass on the edge of Bury's box he over played it and the ball squirmed away for a throw before he could get a clear shot in.

Bury then made a sub on 35 minutes as Jones left the field and Nicky Ajose came on. Arter had another chance to fire a shot but he hit 'row F' in the newly tarmacked car park with his effort. Allsop was then called into action as Worral found Bishop in the Cherries box and Allsop made a powerful save from six yards.

Bury's no 7, Worral, was booked on 43 minutes for preventing a Bournemouth free kick from being taken. Francis was getting his crossed in and Bury were looking unsettled at the back with Pitman almost picking up a short pass before half time.

After watching Nando's mascot take a direct hit on the nose from a Junior Cherry penalty and seeing Bury's zorb king whisk across the pitch and back again before the Bournemouth zorber had hardly moved, we tried the keep the cold out as the players returned for the second half. Oh, and Doncaster were winning terrific, Not!

O'Kane found himself caught out early on as he ran into a barrage of Bury players before Worral shot at goal and Allsop saved. From the corner Sodge headed over. Bournemouth had a chance as well as Cook shot wide from a corner, Daniels then had a shot that went over on 53 minutes and Cook went even closer from a corner again, but it was saved. It was only when Daniels had a driving run down the left before pulling back a pass for Ritchie to latch on to for his first AFCB goal that the Cherries took back the lead.

Bury tried to reply as Thompson had a shot go wide, but AFCB were in the ascendancy again now and Ritchie fancied another crack at goal on 58 minutes, but it also went wide. He had another shot blocked on 63 minutes. Pugh was also getting more involved although he kept slipping at the vital moment once he had beaten his man. Bury were playing on the break and almost found a way through before Daniels intercepted on 68 minutes. Tubbs came on for Grabban after 74 minutes and Bury subbed Thompson for Clarke-Harris, while Bury's Ebanks-Ladell picked up a yellow.

Cook was really trying hard to get on the score sheet having fashioned a scissor kick after Bournemouth corner but he failed to connect. Bury made their last sub as Carrington was replaced by Mezague on 79 minutes. It was followed by another yellow for Schumacher this time for a foul on Pugh. The game was virtually over as a contest when Arter stormed through the centre of the Bury defence and fired home a powerful shot into the roof of the net on 80 minutes.

Eddie Howe now looked to protect the lead with Hughes on for Pugh. Daniels was still playing well and had another shot wide after 84 minutes and Buy still kept going with Clarke-Harris heading wide a minute later. AFCB's final sub saw Ritchie come off for McQuoid. Tubbs was playing up front on his own but there were gaps for him to run into now and when Daniels and then O'Kane pounced on Sodge's slowness to clear a ball near the goal line, he found Tubbs who had a simple task to slide the ball home from six yards for the fourth AFCB goal.


The North Stand leaves contented

Bournemouth players celebrate the victory

Summary

This was the day that AFCB reasserted their presence as one of the top sides in the division. Bury were brushed a side in the second half as AFCB's passing and movement created the space to get their sharp shooters in position to fire at goal. Bury's aerial efforts to disrupt AFCB's passing just could not last for 90 minutes and while they had players who were no doubt quicker than our central defenders there were only a couple of saves that Allsop made, even if they were very important ones. Like most, I would like Elphick back in the team and Seaborne's mistake in the first half may give Eddie Howe the reason he needs to bring him back into the starting line up against Colchester. 

Most of the credits in terms of performances went to Ritchie and Pitman, but I felt that Charlie Daniels edged man of the match for his powerful runs and some fine tackles, especially in the first half when he tried to put the ball and Bury's right winger into 'row z' on several occasions. All in all, I think most AFCB fans went home fairly happy with the team now in third and actually looking forward to the next game with some confidence rather than with worry. We are well in the play-off mix for the moment.  UTCIAD!

Jason Tindall soaks up the applause 

Another good day for Eddie


Player Ratings
Allsop 8, Francis 7, Cook 7, Seaborne 5, Daniels 8, Ritchie 8, O'Kane 6, Arter 6, Pugh 6, Pitman 8, Grabban 6.

AFCB Subs

Jala, Tubbs, MacDonald, Elphick, McQuoid, Hughes, Fogden. 

Eddie has to find a place for Ritchie in the starting line up

It was no surprise this week that Matt Ritchie was among the nominees for npower League One player of the year. He was the star player at Swindon Town and he has shown his versatility at AFCB fitting in at left back as and when required. Having hopefully recovered from his recent head injury at the Stevenage game and with Charlie Daniels coming back into the team at left back it seems that Eddie Howe now has a problem on his hands - surely he has to find a place in the starting 11 for Matt Ritchie?

Matt was a sub in the last game against Oldham although he did come on to win 22 minutes of playing time on the field. The difficulty arises in whether the manager considers Wes Fogden has shown enough to retain his place on the right wing with Josh McQuoid also  contending for that role. Ryan Fraser of course has an U21 Scottish call up so will not be available. If Foggy holds on to his spot having played well in the last two fixtures, will we see Matt on the bench again for the Bury game? This just doesn't seem to be making the most of his talents.

I would venture that with our low scoring power up front at the moment it might be worth considering Matt for a place just behind Pitman and perhaps dropping Grabban to the bench even though he made the goal for Brett in the last match. We know that Matt Ritchie is a great finisher and it would be exciting to see him in a more advanced position. He will be eager to get his scoring record off the ground at Dean Court and his control and fluency on the ball just might open teams up a little easier than we have seen in the last couple of home games.

So Eddie, please don't leave one of League One's best players on the bench. Let's see the best of Matt Ritchie as an attacking force this Saturday against Bury FC. UTCIAD! 

I feel this is probably what Eddie believes is his strongest AFCB team line up, but will he play it?

Allsop, Francis, Elphick, Cook, Daniels, Ritchie, Arter, O'Kane, Pugh, Grabban, Pitman.

Subs: Hughes, McQuoid, Seaborne, Jalal, Tubbs, Fletcher, Fogden

Friday, 22 March 2013

Cherries can't be complacent against Bury

After Tuesday night 2:0 home win by Bury FC against Stevenage the Shakers moved off of the bottom of League One. It was a big win for Bury having lost previous four home games and there is a feeling in the club that things might be turning for them.

Bury are six points from safety with a worse goal difference than Oldham, who have a game in hand on them, and they are five points behind Scunthorpe. The task facing Bury manager Kevin Blackwell is huge, but they have a reasonable run-in with fixtures against Scunthorpe, Hartlepool and Oldham, and if they steal some points against the Cherries the chance of an escape for them would be well and truly on.

Schumacher, no not either of the racing drivers! Steven Schumacher, is Bury's captain and the top goal scorer with 10 in all competitions and 8 in the league, but the midfielder's accuracy from the spot was tested on Tuesday night when he missed a first half penalty. He admitted that he usually blasts his penalties but chose to place this one. Hopefully, Ryan Allsop will have been taking notes.

Bishop and Fagan are most likely to start up front for the Shakers and while neither have been prolific in front of goal this season there is always the heading power of Sodge to contend with so the Cherries are advised to keep free kicks and corners to a minimum. However, Efe Sodge has only been declared 50:50 to make the game. Stephan Zubar was of course recently at Bury on loan but would probably not have been allowed to face his old team mates anyway, even before he was ruled out for the rest of the season with his cruciate ligament knee injury.


I suspect another tight contest with the Cherries still rather goal shy even though they have been better at the back in keeping a couple of clean sheets in their last two games. Some will see this as a home banker but Bury are fighting for their lives and having won last time out they are in determined mood. 

The Cherries need to keep those clean sheets going and start to find more goal power if they are to improve their position in the league. I am hoping that AFCB can score early on before the home crowd can get a chance to get nervy. Scoring first has been the marker for most of the Cherries wins and it's important that they come out straight away with the intent to take the game to Bury. There's no more room for complacency now.

Away Form
Bury FC: DDLLL

Home Form
Cherries: WWLLL

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Marc Pugh digs himself into a hole

Cartoon  Capers
Episode 2

Cartoon Capers returns with Robert and Stephen once again up to mischief at Dean Court. This time they are aiming to have the training pitch all to themselves, while the players are instructed to do a bit of construction work instead of training. Oh and the chairman hopes to save some money!




The Chairman and the manager speak about Robert and Stephen's idea.




The manager is not sure what Stephen and Robert have
asked the Chairman to do, but expects the two Junior Cherries
are up to no good as usual.




All becomes clear. The players are doing construction work instead
of training, while Robert and Stephen are enjoying the training
 pitches all to themselves. Only Marc Pugh has a football and he is spinning and turning so
quickly that he is making big holes in the ground. This will be
where we will plant the new tress thinks the Chairman.  




The manager is none too pleased, but Robert and Stephen are more
amused at Marc Pugh who has virtually buried himself with his
Johan Cruijff turns. Meanwhile, the Chairman will need to look elsewhere
to find some workers to build his South stand.


Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Cherry Brick Road - being part of club history

I noticed on the official club website this week that the Cherry Brick Road with its new names is set to be unveiled next weekend before the Bury match. I wonder how many of you have decided to part with the hard earned cash to have your name put in stone in front of the club entrance?

I have to admit that I was one of those that thought the offer was too good not to take advantage of when the revised prices came out. I decided to not only put Cherry Chimes on a brick but also offered bricks to my two Junior Cherry sons as one of their many Christmas presents. Since the New Year, each time we have gone down for a home match the boys, and myself if I'm honest, would stair intently for a few minutes at the floor outside the Main Entrance at Dean Court only to find that no new bricks had been added.

I am glad Mr Mitchell has come out with the statement that he is sorry and that due to the amount of orders it has taken much longer than expected to make all the bricks and to complete the project. I was wondering if that was £30 that I had thrown away but no, fingers crossed, we can be part of the club's history.

I only hope my name is spelt correctly! And then you wonder who will I be put next to? I hope that the Main Entrance is able to take all those feet desperate to get a view of the newly laid bricks on Saturday. We may just have to try and get down for the game early.

If you haven't already spotted the New tabs at the top of the blog, do have a quick look at the player profiles, the views around the Goldsands Stadium and Robert and Stephen's page.There'll also be a new Cartoon Caper coming later this week. I promise to make the pictures less slow to load in future, but until then enjoy some of the photography. I really think we have a club to be proud of these days.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Dare we dream of the Championship?

The excitement is really building as we are at the crunch stage of the season. Any slip ups now and you really will miss out of those promotion places at one end or find yourself looking at relegation at the other end of the league. There is no better or more intense time than this for a football fan. Our hopes of course lie with Eddie Howe's men and their challenge for the Championship, but every time I think we are looking good to make the move up we come tumbling down. But perhaps now we have had our 'wobble' and we can look forward with great anticipation, especially with players coming back after injury.

League One really is a nightmare to predict as I think it is the tightest it has been at this stage for many years. The level of football in the division I would say is fairly high and I believe any team that does go up stands a reasonable chance of competing in the Championship. However, looking at last years teams who went up shows you that it will not be easy to hold a place in the Championship for any new arrivals. Charlton and Huddersfield are doing best at the moment  on 47 points, but Sheffield Wednesday are much further away from safety. I have been told that Peterborough went up the year before - how time flies

AFCB constantly say that we are now a club that is ready for the Championship either this season or next and that everything is in place for football at that level, apart from the South stand that will be built if we go up. I am sure that the fans are ready for it now because we have endured some really tough seasons in the lower leagues and as a club that has never had much success in climbing the leagues it would be tremendous for the whole town to see the club get there.

Of course, there is the slight problem of getting the run-in right and winning those final games to get the automatic promotion or play-off place. Like most I suspect, I would rather get an automatic place but as this is now looking difficult I have made sure that I am free on 19 May just in case I need to visit Wembley. It would be a great day to see AFCB go up in that way, although the prospect of defeat at that stage would be devastating.

Well, it looks like most of you feel that AFCB will at least be heading to Wembley way or indeed automatic promotion by our poll on the teams to go up. We are in the mix as Eddie would say. The prospect of a long season and a trip to Wembley feels pretty good to me.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Pitman's form is a real boost for AFCB

When Brett Pitman left the Cherries in August 2010 there were a lot of supporters who wished him well at Championship Brsitol City, while many more were sad to see him leave AFCB. He had helped propel the Cherries to League One and was ready for a new challenge at an even higher level. While it did not work out for him at Bristol City, only scoring three league goals and all as sub, he gained valuable experience from which the cherries are now reaping the rewards.


I had not seen a great deal of change in Pitman's play since returning to the Cherries until the last few games when his work rate has virtually doubled. He has always been a good finisher in and around the box but he has added to his game by getting more involved, finding space and working harder for the team.
He made the finish against Oldham look very simple even though he was under pressure and from the penalty spot he has shown his cool head in recent games against Stevenage and Crewe especially, where he scored five goals in two games - three from the spot and two from open play.

The volley he put away against Leyton Orient this month was not hurried or belted but calmly controlled into the far corner of the net, giving the keeper no chance. His quickly taken free kick against Crawley at home in December was also inspirational and but for the cross bar some of his headers might have added to his goal tally which has now crept up to 12 in the current campaign.

It seems strange that AFCB can't get all their strikers scoring at the same time, but as long as one of them is having a lucrative spell in front of goal the promotion push should result in a high final league position. Perhaps then Brett can have another go at Championship football with AFCB.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Allsop saves the day at Boundary Park as AFCB go fourth

Match Description
Oldham Athletic 0:1 Cherries 
3540 (including 194 Cherry supporters)

Well I'm glad that I didn't get the team line up quite right for the game at Boundary Park. AFCB had a welcome change with Charlie Daniels coming back into the starting eleven for his first game since we Hartlepool, on 22 January 2013. That meant that Matt Ritchie found himself on the bench, while Fogden retained a starting place on the right wing. It was also great to hear that Tommy Elphick was on the subs bench.

Oldham matched Bournemouth's 4-4-2 with Lee Barnard lining up as one of the forwards against the Cherries, having played for them earlier in the season. It was always going to be a battle with Oldham's lowly position in the league and the game was perhaps short on thrills and skill in the beginning, but there was plenty of late drama lying ahead.

The Cherries were going up hill first half defending the slope. Fogden won an early free kick, Francis and Seaborne came up for Daniels kick but the Cherries quickly lost possession and Baxter, Obita and Iweluma broke away after a resulting throw, but luckily Allsop gathered safely.

Pugh was making a poor start giving the ball away several times, much to Willo's disappointment on BBC Radio Solent. 

Arter went down on his right ankle after 13 minutes, but he was soon back up. Oldham seemed to be kicking the ball high into the air with Tarkowski the main culprit. It wasn't much of a spectacle for either team of supporters, but Cook and Francis were doing the clearing up most of the time.

The game was turning scrappy. O'Kane fouled Obita to give Baxter a set piece opportunity, but Seaborne cleared for a corner. 
Then a moment of swift and decisive counter attacking. O'Kane broke with Grabban, and Pitman slotted home on 22 minutes to put the Cherries on nil up! Grabban had put the ball on a plate for Pitman having battled on when he could easily have gone down, but he found Pitman who side footed the ball into the net.

The game had a flow now, Fogden made a great cross that went out for a corner after 23 minutes. Francis then won another corner and, even though Oldham cleared their lines after a frantic scrap, AFCB kept the pressure on for a short while.

Oldham surged back again though with Baxter getting a cross in that AFCB put out for a corner on about 30 minutes. Barnard took a shot in but Allsop held it. 

AFCB were chasing down everything and giving Oldham little room to play. It almost paid dividends when Pitman found himself close to getting on a back pass from Mvoto. Before much more happened it was half time.

It was Oldham who started well in the second half with Wesolowski almost getting on the score sheet.

Pitman went down with a bang on the head but it was nothing serious. Perhaps AFCB players were seeing who else could join the injury list? The commentary team said that Pugh had come out with a strapping on his wrist in the second half.

Seaborne continued to head the ball out of our box as Oldham pumped more high balls in. Oldham were still in the ascendancy with Baxter having a shot after Grabban gave the ball away, but it was put out for a corner. Mvoto got away from a couple of players and was looking dangerous when he carried it 30 yards with Arter trying in vain to get a tackle in.

Obita and Grounds were also ganging up on Fogden but Foggy was scrapping away well. Pitman then had a great chance a couple of minutes later but the keeper parried with Daniels following up also going close. Grabban also had an effort saved.

Then in the space of a few seconds, Obita managed to break and Allsop had to turn his shot on to the post and away for a corner on 59 minutes. Oldham were getting closer!

Lee Croft was subbed and Millar came on for Oldham on 60 minutes. It was Bournemouth who were putting the passes together and had 13 or 14 at one stage before winning a corner. Arter then picked up his customary yellow card for a foul on Barnard, pulling him back as he tried to break free. 


Oldham were trying everything they could now, usually lumping the ball forward. Obita was then subbed for Montano on 67 minutes. Baxter tried his luck on a knock down but it went high and wide. Simpson then came off for Iweluma. 
The main drama happened after Oldham won a corner and a penalty was quickly awarded to the Latics as Mvoto won a header and Grabban was accused of hand ball, not for the first time this season if I recall.

Baxter picked the ball up and prepared to take his kick. He had easily been Oldham's best player to this point and you would think that Allsop would be up against it to keep the ball out from 12 yards. But Baxter tried to dink his kick in flamboyant style only to see Ryan recover and put up a big hand to save it. If ever there was defining moment to the game that was it, Allsop was a hero. 

Arter and Pitman linked up again afterwards and Grabban got passed the centre half, but could not pull the ball back to a red shirt. Grabban came off for Hughes giving an extra one in midfield and Daniels came off for Ritchie with 15 minutes to go.

Oldham mounted some pressure at the end but AFCB are a good team when they have a goal lead these days. Seaborne gave a free kick away just outside the box in the centre but Allsop again beat it out well. Allsopp was having a great game and just growing in confidence now. 

Still AFCB were giving too many free kicks away and Pitman was booked. Allsop made another great save from Barnard after Simpson's touch but it was off side any way. Brown then got a booking for Oldham, the ref was loving his yellow cards.

Seaborne went down for a while after a challenge form Wesolowski and Ritchie took the opportunity to change his boots!

Cook again won the ball in the air as Oldham's aerial bombardment continued.Cook found Pitman who was one-on-one but he dinked it over the bar when he could have wrapped the game up! It might have made things easier for Ritchie who was having to do his fair share of heading the ball which was probably not what he needed.

Then in a strange incidence McQuoid was booked with two minutes of normal time left, even though he was not on the pitch for apparently not retrieving the ball. 

There was four minutes of extra time for the Cherries to hold out. AFCB were playing out having a number of free kicks given to them in the Oldham half. Then the ref blew! Three more points for the Cherries.

Summary

Allsop was the MoM, not just for the penalty save but for many other shots he saved and punched away. His kicking was also good all day. Francis too was merited with having a good game. The two centre halves were brave and Daniels did well in his come back. All in all, the whole AFCB team had to put in a gritty performance to earn the three points. We are becoming like the old Arsenal with these tight 1:0 victories but hey, its three points.

After the game Eddie Howe remarked on how the team had kept two clean sheets now and the back four and goalkeeper had given an excellent display. "It was all about the result," he said. He was right, there wasn't much that was pretty out there on the pitch by all reports. Oldham were "very direct" in Howe's words and did not help the spectacle.

Howe gave a special mention to Charlie Daniels who had not had a training session all week. Howe said it wasn't a difficult choice to play him though as he is the only left back we have and Eddie was desperate to get him back.

Eddie also dismissed the penalty as he did not think Grabban had his hands raised to the ball, but he praised Allsop who stuck up a big arm to save the penalty and he made another top draw save later.

Apparently , Tommy Elphick was further ahead then Charlie in the week in terms of making the team but Howe felt the centre backs were playing well at the moment and there was no pressure to bring back Tommy early, even though he is the voice of the team. Indeed, Howe said it was good to have him around in the changing room, getting involved again.

Eddie Howe said he was not surprised by the twists and turns that seem to be happening with results in the league. "I have been preaching it," he said.


AFCB
Allsop, Seaborne , Francis, Cook, Daniels, Fogden, Arter, O'Kane, Pugh, Pitman, Grabban

Subs
Jalal, Tubbs, Ritchie, Hughes, Elphick, McQuoid, MacDonald

Oldham
Bouzanis, Brown, Grounds, Wesolowski, Mvoto, Tarkowski, Croft, Obita, Iweluma, Barnard, Baxter

Subs
Cisak, Simpson, Montano, Millar, Taylor, Smith, Winchester

Referee
K Hill

End of season mind games, they've begun

Eddie Howe has been quoted as saying that he will be out to attack against Oldham today to try and get the three points the team desperately needs to climb the league. Well, I guess that is what we all want to hear him say, but why say it now? Does he believe that Oldham will come out flying at the Cherries if he says this, leaving gaps at the back that can be exploited? Will it change anything in what Oldham set out to do during the 90 minutes? I'd say Eddie Howe's words probably won't have any immediate affect on the final outcome of the match, so are managers making such comments just to give the media something to say?

Its easy to say words, but managers have to set teams up in a way that they feel will get a result and the players have to carry out coach's instructions to the best of their ability while adapting to whatever situation arises during the game.

A red card in the first five minutes of a game can throw out a week's planning in a couple of seconds. It happens. Hopefully, not to us in any of our remaining matches this season.

All the Eddie can do is look at Oldham's resent performances and how they like to set up for home games and pick a side that combats their threat, while giving the Cherries plenty of possession and opportunities to cause problems at the other end. It's easy to be a manager you may say. But the pressure is really on now and some times managers make comments just to try and keep any momentum they have after a victory still going.

Just look at the problems Eddie has to cope with. The official club site says Daniels and Elphick will still probably not be available. Is Matt Ritchie fully recovered from his head injury he sustained in the week? Well, Howe said Matt would have played on but for the fact that the team couldn't wait 15 minutes for him to be stitched up. 


Then there's Arter. He gets a lot of groans from home fans when he gets yellow cards or doesn't find his team mates, but he is undoubtedly the heart beat of this team. He sets the pace and the last few games with out him have shown how he is missed. Its Arter that disrupts the opposition's midfield and wins the ball in dangerous areas. If he is only 90 per cent fit, I am sure that Howe will start him. 

I'm also pleased to see that O'Kane is also starting to show similar aggression when he goes forward as shown in the Stevenage game.

 Any way, by taking thoughts away from the injury worries Eddie can concentrate on the positives and get the team thinking of winning the game.

I expect Howe to play with two upfront and this is also what I he is probably inferring when he says he is going to Oldham to attack. I have no doubt that the number 40 shirt will be one of the strikers, but who will play with Pitman? Is Grabban about to be dropped? I don't expect so, he is our leading scorer and by giving him at least 60 minutes, Howe will be giving him confidence. Of course if we are three down and he misses a few chances, Tubbs will be raring to go.


As for the mind games, I am sure that psychology plays a big part in manager's and player's preparations. Eddie wants the team to play on the front foot and to go and earn the points by playing to their strengths. He's telling the team they can do it and he has confidence in them. 


My team is as follows:
Allsop, Francis, Cook, Seaborne, Ritchie, Fogden, Arter, O'Kane, Pugh, Pitman, Grabban


No real surprises there, but what about the bench?
Jalal, Hughes, Macca, Fraser (if fit), McQuoid, Tubbs.

Can you see a different line up?

If you are going to the match and can send in a picture after the match to Cherry Chimes please do. It's great if people can get involved in improving the blog and if you have something to say don't be shy.

Also, if you have any score predictions tweet them to peterbell19

Friday, 15 March 2013

Oldham await the Cherries at Boundry park

Since Oldham parted with manager Paul Dickov, after the Walsall game, on 2nd February, the Latics have won two and lost one of their home games. They did not have a mid-week match that would have been against Hartlepool because of a frozen pitch. A narrow defeat against Tranmere Rovers last time out has seen Oldham situated in the bottom four on 36pts from 35 games. Individual error have been the cause of Oldham's recent defeats. The FA Cup run that Oldham had means that they have a couple of games in hand on those just above them in the table and they will be looking to get away from the drop zone, which will make this a hard match for the Cherries.

Oldham have been looked after by caretaker boss Tony Philliskirk (48) since Paul Dickov's departure. Tony joined Oldham in 1998 when Andy Ritchie offered him the Youth Team coaches job. He was assistant manager in 2003 when Ian Dowie went to Crystal Palace and Tony managed the team for one game in the 2004-5 season. He had been Youth Team coach before his recent appointment as caretaker boss.

Jose Baxter is the team's top goalscorer on 12 and Matt Smith is likely to be his striking partner on Saturday, while Lee Barnard who played for AFCB earlier this season, is also at Oldham on loan from Southampton. I thought Lee Croft who plays on the right wing had a good game against us down at the Goldsands Stadium in the reverse fixture even though he was on the losing side that day in November. He'll be one to watch out for.


The Cherries will be watching the progress of their injured players and if any of them will be fit for this game. The list is long with Charlie Daniels and Tommy Elphick being joined by fresh injuries to Matt Ritchie, Ryan Fraser and Harry Arter in the mid-week game against Stevenage.

League Form
Oldham at Home:LLWWL

Cherries Away: WWLLW

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Ellis Dunne has a special match day experience at the Cherries

Guest article
Written by Michael Dunne and Ellis Dunne, 
AFCB Season Ticket Holders - Family Stand

Ellis arrives early at the Goldsands Stadium and
is confident of scoring against Cherry Bear 
On Saturday 9 March 2013, Ellis was one of several mascots for the game against Doncaster Rovers. Ellis’s opportunity came as a result of his father doing a short stint as Cherry Bear when Steve Fletcher came to visit him at work.

Cherry Bear is ready to go to work
Father Michael with Steve Fletcher                

Ellis arrived at the Court at 1pm to begin his duties. This was unusually early because, despite living quite close to the ground, most weeks it is a last minute dash to make it into his seat just as the teams come out onto the pitch.

As a result, it was quite a surprise to see the amount of supporters milling around the ground two hours before kick off. Ellis waited outside the main entrance for a few minutes and joined some of the fans in wishing Marc Pugh, Shaun MacDonald and Wes Fogdan good luck as they arrived to begin preparations for the match. It wasn’t long before Ellis joined the other mascots and their excellent minders Lewis and Luke in following their heroes into the home dressing room.

Ellis joins the other mascots for a kick about
Ellis went from player to player collecting signatures with his complementary autograph book and pen. He had his photo taken with Marc Pugh for publication in the next match programme and all of the team were very kind to him. Emerging from the main entrance after half an hour, he reported that there was a lot of laughing and joking in the dressing room, and this despite the absence of Harry Arter.

Following a kick about with Cherry Bear in the Junior Fanzone under the family stand, Ellis was back on duty as kick off approached.

With the team warming up on the pitch, Ellis and his fellow mascots did some pre-match exercises in the shadow of the main stand and it was here that Ellis put three goals past Liam to record a hat trick on his Dean Court debut. The mascots were then called to the centre circle and introduced to the crowd before heading back down the tunnel once again.



All smiles for the photographs
Cherry Bear gets in on the action
Waiting in the tunnel for the match to begin, Ellis was playfully given a straight red card by referee Fred Graham. Captain Steve Cook gave lots of verbal encouragement to his players and then Ellis was lucky enough to join him in leading the team out onto the pitch. Ellis shook hands with Mr Graham and the other officials before doing the same with the Rovers players. He then made his way to the centre circle for a few more photos with the officials and captains before leaving the pitch to a standing ovation from at least one very proud parent.

If you have been a mascot or want to talk about a particular match day experience that was unusual or funny, get in touch with Cherry Chimes. Other Cherry fans will love to hear your unique story.
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