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bournemouth 1000x500Burnley travel to Bournemouth tomorrow for what is our last away game of the season and it can be a more relaxed trip than any of the previous 18 having got the monkey off our back with the first win on the road at Crystal Palace and having secured our Premier League place for next season.

I wish I had a penny for every time I heard someone say that we hadn’t won away and when we lost 3-1 at Everton recently there was this realisation that we might not do and that we might be able to collect enough points at Turf Moor to stay up.

That’s just about been the case but it was a brilliant moment at Selhurst Park two weeks ago when the final whistle blew on a 2-0 victory. We’d got that away win. We’d equalled the number of away wins from our first Premier League season, when we won at Hull, and, with the four draws to add to that, we’ve ensured we have more points too.

It was a good journey home after previously having seen 13 defeats and just four draws. In some of them I thought we deserved much more, certainly beyond the first three at Chelsea, Leicester and Southampton when we got, as Stan Ternent used to say, what we deserved – nothing.

To think that we returned from games at Spurs, Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool and Everton without a solitary point takes some believing. They are all top seven clubs and yet we could so easily have picked up points from any one of them.

But that’s in the past, we got the Palace win on our second longest away trip of the season, mileage wise, and can now look forward to the one that is even further. Given what happened last week, and not just at Turf Moor but around the bottom end of the Championship on the following day, it is going to be a day of celebration for the travelling supporters while respectfully remembering Peter Noble who so sadly passed away after a long illness last Saturday.

Noble never played in a game between Burnley and Bournemouth, but the clubs have been very much linked in recent years. The entire Bournemouth midfield who played against us in the FA Cup in 2005 went on to play for us while Eddie Howe, who was a substitute that day, has managed both clubs.

Although such as Danny Ings and Marvin Sordell have now left us, there will still be playing links with Marc Pugh and Junior Stanislas in the opposition ranks and Sam Vokes, who started his career at Bournemouth, set to play up front for the Clarets after scoring both goals last week.

Now fully recovered from the cruciate injury he suffered three  years ago, Sam’s made a habit of scoring some important goals for us. A year ago he scored the winner against QPR that clinched promotion, he scored the opener a week later when the title was clinched at Charlton and last week’s brace ended any faint concerns of us being relegated.

He’s keen for Burnley to get more points on the board and he wants more goals for himself before the season ends. He said: “It’s important we keep our head in the game. It will be nice to celebrate at the end of the season but for now it’s time to get the job done.”

Vokes, who needs one more goal to reach a half century of league goals for the Clarets, added: “The Palace game and the result was probably one of the best I’ve been involved in with Burnley. The feeling in the dressing room after, and how strong the performance was down at Palace, it was a good feeling, so we want to emulate that down at Bournemouth. It’s a big game for us and another big test away.”

Vokes has been preferred up front in the last two games alongside Ashley Barnes with Andre Gray being used as a substitute on both occasions and making an impact, scoring the second at Palace and then winning the free kick from which we equalised last week against West Brom.

I think there is every chance that Sean Dyche will opt for a similar side tomorrow at Bournemouth although there could be a change at the back with Michael Keane having a chance of returning. The news isn’t as good regarding Ben Mee. He’s expected to be ruled out for a third game with James Tarkowski set to play.

I suspect neither Keane nor Mee will feature and the team could be: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, Kevin Long, James Tarkowski, Stephen Ward, George Boyd, Jeff Hendrick, Ashley Westwood, Scott Arfield, Sam Vokes, Ashley Barnes. Subs from: Nick Pope, Jon Flanagan, Tendayi Darikwa, Steven Defour, Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Robbie Brady, Andre Gray, Dan Agyei.

It’s going to be a third successive Premier League season for Bournemouth. In their first ever top flight season they won 42 points to finish 16th in the league. They’ve already reached that total this season with an improved home record at Dean Court over last season.

There’s always this argument with Bournemouth about their achievements. Yes, they are a small club but they have been given riches beyond their dreams. Even so, there still has to be a functioning team and Eddie Howe has certainly done a remarkable job there.

They kicked off this season with two defeats. Manchester United beat them at Dean Court on the opening day and that was followed by a loss at the London Stadium against West Ham. But two wins and a draw in the next four games lifted them up the table and the lowest they’ve been since is 16th, and that was for just one week when in April after a 4-0 defeat at Spurs.

Tomorrow is obviously our first ever top flight visit but games between the two clubs have hardly been commonplace. Other than a couple of cup ties in the 1960s, both won by us, we didn’t play them until the 1983/84 season which saw two home wins, Burnley winning 5-1 at the Turf and Bournemouth 1-0 at Dean Court.

That, and the following season, were both in the old Third Division and between 1992 and 2000 we met them in a further seven seasons at the same level. More recently, in 2013/14, we were both in the Championship and this season in the Premier League.

We’ve won just twice in our ten visits to Bournemouth. The first of them was in the 1995/96 season when Chris Vinnicombe and Kurt Nogan scored in a 2-0 win and Andy Payton scored the only goal in February 2000.

Dan Gosling has been suffering with a calf problem but could be fit to return while Ryan Fraser will be assessed due to an achilles injury. Two players who won’t be involved are Benik Afobe (hamstring) and Jack Wilshire who suffered a hairline fracture to his fibula in the defeat at Spurs.

Wilshire is on loan from Arsenal and Howe has this week said he does not expect the player to return to Bournemouth next season. Bournemouth are also without long term injury victim Callum Wilson.

The player to watch is surely Josh King. He’s been very much in goalscoring form recently with eight of his 15 league goals having come in the last two months.

Last week them reached safety with a 2-2 home draw against Stoke. Their team was: Artur Boruc, Adam Smith, Simon Francis, Steve Cook, Charlie Daniels, Junior Stanislas, Harry Arter, Lewis Cook, Marc Pugh, Lys Mousset, Josh King. Subs: Ryan Allsop, Brad Smith, Tyrone Mings, Baily Cargill, Max Gradel, Jordan Ibe, Ryan Fraser.

 

LAST TIME WE WERE THERE

 

We set off for Bournemouth in February 2014 not knowing whether the game was going to be on or not. The South of England had been hit with severe problems with flooding. In the previous month we were fortunate to get the game on at Yeovil and this one went ahead on a poor pitch caused by the shocking weather.

It was no better at home when we left, torrential rain across the North West left us concerned but by the time we reached Cheshire the news came through that the game was on provided there was no further rain in the Bournemouth area.

One thing we knew for certain is that we’d be second in the league on our return home given that we kicked off eight points behind leaders Leicester but with a four point advantage over third place QPR.

The game was preceded by a minute’s silence for England and Preston great Sir Tom Finney who had passed away on the previous evening but I’m not sure Tom would have been too impressed with the ninety minutes although it was played on the sort of surface he’d have been used to in his pomp in the 1950s.

There were no goals in the first half when, if anyone, Bournemouth probably had the edge, but we started the second half much brighter before falling behind. Tokelo Rantie scored it, just his third goal for the club but his second against us; he’d scored a worldy on the Turf. This one, incredibly, was a header from a corner but it was an easy header when Danny Ings just let him have a free header, his only contribution all afternoon.

Sean Dyche reacted quickly, withdrawing both Scott Arfield and Michael Kightly and introducing Ross Wallace and Keith Treacy. For Wallace, it was his first action since August when he dropped out of the reckoning for surgery on a knee injury.

The two substitutes were responsible for the equaliser that gave us a point from this 1-1 draw. Wallace crossed the ball, albeit from a deflection, and Treacy did well to get on the end of it at the far post to hit home a shot from close range.

If we thought that would see us go and get a winner in the remaining quarter of the game we were to be disappointed and only two good Tom Heaton saves ensured we came home with a point although Bournemouth should have ended the game with ten men when Brett Pitman got away with a shocker of a challenge that referee Graham Scott somehow deemed worthy of only a yellow card.

We came home with three big games facing us. The next two games were both at home against Nottingham Forest and Derby who were 5th and 4th respectively and then it was off to Ewood to face a team who foolishly thought they couldn’t lose against us.

The teams at Bournemouth were;

Bournemouth: Lee Camp, Simon Francis, Steve Cook, Tommy Elphick, Ian Harte, Matt Ritchie, Eunan O’Kane (Shaun MacDonald ht), Harry Arter, Marc Pugh, Tokelo Rantie (Yann Kermogant 70), Lewis Grabban (Brett Pitman 86). Subs not used: Ryan Allsop, Adam Smith, Andrew Surman, Ryan Fraser.

Burnley: Tom Heaton, Kieran Trippier, Michael Duff, Jason Shackell, Ben Mee, Scott Arfield (Keith Treacy 61), Dean Marney, David Jones, Michael Kightly (Keith Treacy 61), Danny Ings, Sam Vokes (Ashley Barnes 82). Subs not used: Alex Cisak, Kevin Long, David Edgar, Junior Stanislas.

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