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Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Bournemouth Preview......

Deep within the workings of the Football League computer programme we're clearly hardcoded as a bit of a rogue elephant, sorry element. They, at least, appear to believe that we have a special place in the scheme of things and have singled us out for special attention and have once again given us a promoted club as a home fixture on our first game of the season.
That's four in a row now, after Scunthorpe, Swansea and Wycombe, of which we've won 2 and drawn one so far. Scunthorpe were winners of League One in 2006/07 (score 1-1) and Swansea (score 2-0) were 10 points clear winners of League One back in 2007/08 none of whom could beat us. Last season it was Wycombe (3-2 to the Addicks) who were third in their promotion season, while this year we get AFC Bournemouth, up from 2nd last season, 10 points, and a difference of 48 in goals difference, behind champions Notts County.
To find our last opening-day away fixture before this run-in against the promotion boys you will have to enter the realms of nostalgia or was it fantasy and was, of course, our closing season in the Prem, 2006/07 against the then Pardews' Hammers when we went down 1-3 after Darren B had put us ahead from the spot in the 15th minute. One of Monica's 2M signings during the summer, Djimi Traore, then got himself sent-off in the first of his, unlucky for some, 13 appearances, after two bookings in 3 minutes and it was all downhill from there on.
And, correct me if I'm wrong, but you have to go all the way back to August 17th 2003 to find the last time we lost at home on opening day when Man City - Anelka and all - put 3 past Simon Royce in a 3-0 defeat. And, of course, it didn't matter because we finished the season in 7th spot, our highest ever in the Prem.
Anyway, dreaming aside, on Saturday we start our 5th season in Tier Three in the last 38 years. After a few years under fizzy american control, we've now gone German and call ourselves npower1, rather than just plain old Division Three. Why we have to put up with the confusion of the complicated handle of "League One" or "npower1" is beyond me, except that its the usual marketing ploy to make us believe that everything is better than it really is. Maybe they're under the delusion that more people are going to turn up for a League One game than a Division Three game.

The Opposition

Anyway, as already mentioned its new boys AFC Bournemouth who are arriving to be our first potential victims. The Cherries have experienced a turbulent time of it of late with relegation from League One in the season before we arrived with a 10 point penalty for going into administration and then had another massive 17 points deducted the next season in League Two for failing to follow the League's insolvency rules, employ a better lawyer next time. Despite this massive handicap they survived having sacked the lawyer and got themselves a new manager, Eddie Howe, and they won promotion to League One in his first full year in charge.

So who is this Eddie Howe? Bit of a youngster still only 32, and must be one of the youngest in this Division of ours. An ex-Bournemouth favorite, he was Harry Redknapp's first signing as Portsmouth manager back in 2002 but after injury forced an end to his playing career he returned to Bournemouth as assistent manager before taking over when Jimmy Quinn was sacked at the very end of 2008.

Bournemouth have 7 new signings at the moment including ex Addick, 20 year old Harry Arter from Woking. Others are Purches, Nelson, Wiggins, Lovell, Pugh, Symes. A 3-3 draw with Derby last week where Harry Arter was "increasingly lively, sharp and inventive and giving defenders all sorts of problems" was named MOM. Ummm. Harry got the push in last summers economy drive after just one appearance in a Charlton shirt, 34 minutes in a League Cup defeat at Luton in 2007, has another little gem slipped through our fingers?

So apart from Derby what else have they been doing pre-season? A 0-4 dubbing by a Spurs team containing many first teamers but then Fulham were at Dean Court on the 17th July a few days after dispatching Brentford 5-0 and took a full strength side with Murphy, Kon, Zamora, Gera etc and the result was a 1-1 draw. The Cherries received some sickly but ominous praise from the Fulham site, "Bournemouth should be applauded for the fashion in which they played the game on Saturday. The League One side will earn plenty of plaudits next season, as they deliver an attractive brand of football that Fulham fans have become accustomed to at the Cottage over the years."

Any Form Then?

No, not really. Of their last 8 away games last season, they only won 1 and lost 5.

Who gets Their Goals Then?

Number nine for the Cherries is one Brett Pitman aged just 22 from Jersey. He got 26 league goals last season, finishing second in the Division Four (League Two) goalscoring charts and 4 behind leading top scorer Lee Hughes of Notts County. They also have a new boy, 23 year old winger cum striker, number 7 Marc Pugh who got 13 goals last season for Hereford and was also their leading goalscorer.

Game History

A first league visit since April 1975, 35 years ago, it which the Cherries were victorious 3-2, Bournemouth take over as the only club in the Division to have won more times at the Valley ( in League games ) than they have lost. Currently the home stats stand at 3 wins for the Addicks, 4 draws and 4 league defeats. OK, there's not been too many games, with only 11 seasons spend together, and even I can't remember the last time we beat them at home in the League as it was back in August 1933, 77 years ago. That too was the opening game of the season after our relegation from Division Two the previous year and the game finished in a close-fought 4-3 win. And the following year they were one of only two teams to beat us at home in our 1935 Division Three South Championship winning season. But there's usually an up side to things and the three home wins we've enjoyed have been big ones, with a 5-0, a 6-2 and a 4-3.

The Team

Nice to get ourselves a number 9 once again in Pawel Abbot and this is what I had to say last October before Oldham's 0-0 draw at the Valley, "Clearly a favorite with Oldham manager Penney, who paid Swansea 100k for him while he was manager at Darlington, is Pawel Abbott. Current top scorer, number nine Abbott is a Polish U-21 international thanks to his mum, and is on 4 goals, although it must be said, Pav, that two were from the penalty spot. Penney said after signing Abbott for the second time in June, "I'm delighted to get this deal done as we have ourselves a proven goalscorer - Pawel's goal ratio is excellent". Penney's exit and Irish international Warren Feeney's arrival after being off-loaded by Cardiff meant that Abbott was a little surplus to requirements at Dickov's Oldham. And if you believe in miracles, you'll be pleased to learn that Pawel is the same age, 28, as SuperClive when he joined us in 1997 from Grimsby.

And once again we've shown no mercy on relegated Southend after grabbing Alan McCormack and have also snatched away their 25 year old right-back Simon Francis, their last seasons Player of the Year, for what appears to be a pittance. He's spent the last three years at the Shrimpers but started his career at Bradford City when he also apparently played for England U-19's. But he hasn't played any pre-season games and didn't feature at Watford so we may see Solly start on Saturday.

The number 10 shirt, previously worn by such contrasting notables as Kevin Lisbie and Darren B, is still currently vacant, a hint perhaps of another signing, or maybe Tuna, so far unnumbered, will be awarded it.

Elliot; Solly, Dailly, Doherty, Jackson; Wagstaff, Semedo, Racon, McCormack, Reid; Abbott.


Unless the Cherries suffer a bit from stage fright, which seems unlikely with their pre-season games against Spurs, Fulham, Portsmouth and Derby, I think we may have an uncomfortable afternoon. Last season only Notts County conceded less goals than the Cherries in Division Four but then again only Rotherham in the top 8 scored scored less than their 61. They have got Pugh from Hereford to rectify the lack of goals and their passing game should be good to watch. Arter will probably be on the bench, he's still only 20, but they have been scoring plenty of goals in pre-season and have good results too with home draws against Fulham and Derby.

The history is also on their side and my optimistic verdict is a cagey 1-1 draw.

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