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Cherries: Connell's star turn gives Ed something to think about

26 Oct 2009 07:00:00

Cherries: Connell's star turn gives Ed something to think about

PERHAPS Eddie Howe is related to King Midas because virtually everything the Cherries boss touches seems to turn to gold. This rare talent shouldnt surprise us by now, as Howe has been making a rather happy habit of it for quite some time. Since taking his place in the Dean Court hot seat, the likeable young managers magical skills have shown no sign of waning. From the inspired re-signing of Steve Fletcher to transforming Cherries into promotion contenders, Howes early months in charge wouldnt look out of place in Roy of the Rovers. And if the secret to success includes fine man-management skills and the art of timing, then there is no reason to believe Howe will lose his powers any time soon. His ability to pick the perfect moment to make changes came to the fore on Saturday even if Fletchers knee played a role in the decision which proved decisive in Cherries claiming another three points. Sensing the veteran needed a well-deserved rest, Howe waved his magic wand in the direction of Alan Connell. Cruelly sidelined by injury for much of the time since he rejoined the Dean Court ranks, Connell has had to make do with cameo appearances and sporadic starts. But, to the credit of both manager and player, when called upon he produced a performance worthy of the league leaders. Connell, who fired Cherries into a 27th-minute lead, has shown great patience in his pursuit of more regular football and did just about everything he could to convince Howe that he was ready for more action. Dropping deep to link play, bringing others into the game and a wonderfully-taken goal proved that Cherries can win without the mighty presence of Fletcher in attack. I thought Alan and Brett (Pitman) combined really well, said Howe. Alan is comfortable with the ball to feet he wants the ball. Hes intelligent and can bring others into the game. Ive never doubted his ability and its certainly a nice selection problem for me to have three strikers all in very good form. Its good to have strikers with different attributes because you can change a game and look for different things, so Im delighted with all the strikers weve got at the football club. And its no wonder Howe is pleased with the forwards at his disposal. Everybody knows how successful Fletcher has been since his return, but Howes greatest trick surely has to be the way he has extracted a genuine match-winner from the enigmatic talents within Pitman. The homegrown frontman has always had bags of ability, but producing the goods on a regular basis has been his problem. But not under Howes guidance. While Connells first goal was excellent, it owed much to the quick thinking of Pitman, whose free kick found his strike partner with room to manoeuvre. Not content with setting up one goal, Cherries top scorer then had a hand in his teams second as the hosts doubled the lead on 34 minutes at a sunny Dean Court. Sent clear by captain Danny Hollands, Pitman fired over a low cross which birthday boy Paul Linwood could only helplessly bundle past his own keeper. While Cherries were certainly impressive, Grimsby, managerless following Mike Newells recent departure, were not without their moments. Peter Bore almost pulled a goal back immediately, only for Shwan Jalal to save bravely at the wingers feet. Jalal produced one of the matchs best moments with a sensational one-handed save from Adrian Forbess vicious drive on 49 minutes. But the Cherries keeper was finally beaten when Linwood headed home in the 50th minute following some poor set-piece defending. The defenders effort already looked on target before it took a final touch off Ryan Garry and looped past a diving Jalal and into the far corner. What looked like a definite victory was in the balance and Cherries had a few nervy moments. But not for the first time in recent months, when in need of a final push, Howe called on Fletcher. The veteran targetman ensured he made a telling contribution by flicking on Liam Feeneys long throw for Pitman to cap his excellent afternoon with a well-taken overhead kick. I know Alan can step in and do a fantastic job, like he did on Saturday, said Howe. I thought he was outstanding, but when we needed him, Fletch was there to make us a little bit stronger. To have options on the bench like I did was fantastic. I had an array of choices and, as a manager, thats what you want.ó


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