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AFC Bournemouth: Cherries bid for another fruitful trip to Keepmoat Stadium
CHERRIES will face one of their more familiar tests when they travel to the Keepmoat Stadium tomorrow – arguably the place where the club’s renaissance under Eddie Howe really got going last season.
Harry Arter’s solitary strike handed Cherries their fifth win in six unbeaten matches following Howe’s return from Burnley, a result which dared supporters to dream of a promotion despite a poor start under Paul Groves.
It was AFC Bournemouth’s second consecutive success at Rovers after goals from Max Gradel and Jo Kuffour handed Cherries an unlikely 2-1 win early in 2007-8, a rare highlight in a season which ended in relegation to League Two while Donny were bound for the Championship.
But prior to that, Doncaster had rarely been a happy hunting ground for Cherries with just one win from their previous 16 trips to Yorkshire.
Cherries’ biggest success at Rovers was the 3-0 victory at Belle Vue in the Third Division title winning season of 1986-87. The sides did not meet again until they were paired together in the FA Cup first round in 2002, a tie Cherries won 2-1 at Dean Court.
However, despite their success last season, Cherries will be up against a much-changed side this time round following new manager Paul Dickov’s recruitment drive over the summer.
Rovers’ new-look team have made a strong start to the campaign, recovering from an opening day defeat to Blackpool to take four points from Blackburn Rovers and Wigan Athletic.
They had seemed set for their second win of the season at Charlton six days ago before a deluge forced the abandonment of a match Doncaster were leading 3-1.
Notable summer signings include Derby County frontman Theo Robinson, who has found the net twice in his opening three league matches, former Chelsea goalkeeper Ross Turnbull and experienced Championship campaigner Richie Wellens following his release by Leicester City.
And with defensive duo Bongani Khumalo and Reece Wabara joining on loan from Premier League big guns Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City, respectively, Cherries boss Eddie Howe recognises the threat Donny will pose.
“They will be quite strong. They have invested wisely in the players they have brought in without changing their style too much and it will be a familiar test for us,” said Howe.
“It’s a good ground, the surface is very good and we will certainly be taking our style of play to them.”
Daily Echo’s one to watch
After peppering Jonathan Bond’s goal at Watford on Wednesday, Cherries will be hoping Rovers goalkeeper Ross Turnbull does not show the same kind of form. The former Chelsea and Middlesbrough custodian’s performance could prove pivotal on another testing awayday.
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