STRIKE sensation Lewis Grabban reckons Cherries possess the perfect weapon to combat the Championship’s most dogged spoilers – full-backs who double up as wingers.
Despite a prolific campaign which has seen Grabban net 22 league goals, a club record in the second tier, Cherries’ top marksman admitted he had still felt the frustration of teams sitting back – particularly at Dean Court.
However, defensive duo Simon Francis and Ian Harte have helped to counter opponents’ desire to camp in their own half by providing the ammunition for the hitman’s hot streak in front of goal.
Right-back Francis, the Daily Echo-Micky Cave player of the year, has set up nine of Cherries’ league goals this season, while left-sided counterpart Harte has created five.
No Cherries player has contributed more assists than the forward-thinking pair, a statistic that comes as no surprise to Grabban.
“We have a good attacking presence on both sides and it’s great for me,” said the striker.
“Sometimes, you have a lot of possession without getting anywhere with it but the longer you keep the ball, the more tired opponents get and gaps appear as the games go on.
“It is frustrating when a team comes to play more defensively but it’s also a compliment that they are wary of being left open by our passing game.
“You have mixed feelings at the time but when you get the breakthrough it feels great because you know they have to come out and that you’ll get more space."
He continued: “I think that’s the way the game is going now, your full-backs have to be more like wingers. That’s how the gaffer wants us to play and with the way we train, we don’t have to work at it so much now, it comes naturally to us.
“Franno is very attack-minded and he provides a great outlet for us. He has the energy to get up the channel regularly and, physically, he is very difficult to knock off the ball.
“Playing with him over the past two years, we have learned each other’s game. He’s hard to stop when he drives forward.
“Both full-backs are always looking to push forward and get the ball in the box. You just know they are going to deliver something and both have been pivotal to the chances we have created this season.
“They are both very talented footballers who are gifted technically.”