AFC Bournemouth v Boreham Wood
Sunday 6th February 2022, KO 6.30pm
Vitality Stadium, FA Cup Fourth Round
Tomorrow evening, Wood’s first ever appearance in the FA Cup Fourth Round awaits as we head to the South Coast to take on Championship highflyers AFC Bournemouth.
The Cherries sit just a point behind Blackburn Rovers in third, enjoying a promising Championship campaign after falling short of promotion last season, reaching the Fourth Round of FA Cup after a 3-1 victory over Yeovil Town in the last round.
Wood’s historic win over AFC Wimbledon saw them get beyond the Third Round for the first time in the Club’s history, and they have remained consistent since then with three wins and a draw in the league to close the gap on first place to just two points with two games in hand.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
A product of the famous Manchester United academy, Ben Pearson made his debut for the Under-18 side aged just 14 and would go on to win the Young Player of the Year award in 2012/13, featuring in the UEFA Youth League and becoming a regular fixture for the Under-21 side.
He joined Barnsley on an initial one-month loan in January 2015 that would be extended until the end of the season and again for the first half of 2015/16 and impressed for the Tykes in League One before leaving the Red Devils without making a senior appearance to join Preston North End.
He quickly proved himself as a key part of the team at Deepdale, and developed a reputation for being a combative, tough tackling midfielder who isn’t afraid to get stuck in. His 14 yellow cards and three red cards in 2018/19 shows his tenacity, and he went on to feature 165 times for the Lilywhites over the next five years, helping them establish themselves as a stable Championship side. His performances caught the eye of other second tier teams, and Pearson joined promotion-chasing Bournemouth in January 2021. Although he was unable to help the Cherries bounce straight back to the topflight, he has once again proved himself as a crucial member of the team and has made 38 appearances during his time on the South Coast to date.
Born in Copenhagen, Philip Billing caught the eye whilst playing in his home country and left Denmark at just 17 years of age. He began his youth career with Jerne IF before moving to Esbjerg where he impressed and arrived in England after a successful 10-day trial with Huddersfield Town, joining on a youth contract in 2013.
After helping the Terriers win titles at Under-18 and Under-21 level, he starred in the 2013/14 FA Youth Cup as Huddersfield reached the quarter-final, eventually earning a call-up to the first team and capping off a memorable first season in West Yorkshire by making his senior debut as a late substitute in a 2-0 defeat to Leicester City.
His full debut for the club came the following campaign and he began to establish himself as a regular fixture in the Huddersfield team. He featured 24 times under David Wagner in 2016/17 as the German defied all the odds to lead the Terriers to promotion via the Championship play-offs, playing 90 minutes in their maiden game in the Premier League: a 3-0 victory over Crystal Palace.
An incredible 16th place finish preceded a dismal campaign in which the Terriers finished rock bottom, but Billing was a bright spark and earnt his first call-up to the senior Denmark team. After 91 appearances and two Young Player of the Year awards, he left Huddersfield the following summer, being sold for £15m to AFC Bournemouth. Standing at 6”6, Billing is a physical midfielder who likes to get up and down the pitch. Despite his second successive relegation in 2019/20, Billing has become a key member of the squad, especially since being moved into a more advanced role under Jonathan Woodgate, subsequently making 2020/21 his most prolific campaign with eight goals. He has now played over 100 times for the Cherries over the last two-and-a-half seasons since arriving at the Vitality Stadium.
A fruitful youth career brought plenty of early hype around Dominic Solanke, who won the FA Youth Cup with Chelsea in 2014 and 2015 and was named England’s Young player of the Year for 2014 after helping the Three Lions win the European Under-17 Championship, scoring in the final against the Netherlands.
He became Chelsea’s youngest player to feature in the Champions League and top scorer in the UEFA Youth League in 2014/15 with 12 goals, being named Academy Player of the Year at Stamford Bridge in 2015. His first taste of senior football came on loan in the Eredivisie with Vitesse, where he hit seven goals in 25 games, before being part of the England team that won the Under-20 World Cup in 2017 where he won Player of the Tournament. After leaving Chelsea as fellow Premier League side Liverpool came calling, making 27 appearances during his two years at Anfield.
Keen to receive more regular football, Solanke joined AFC Bournemouth in January 2019, but he scored just three times in 42 appearances as the club were relegated from English football’s topflight the following season to bring a five-year stint in the Premier League to an end.
A complete striker, the 24-year old has impressed with his all-round ability to both link play and get in good positions in the box, and he netted an improved 15 goals and 12 assists in his maiden campaign at Championship level, though this wasn’t enough to help the Cherries bounce straight back to the Premier League. He has however enjoyed his most productive campaign so far, with 18 goals already as the Cherries have elevated to a third-place position at the same stage.
HOW TO WATCH
WATCH LIVE ON ITV
Wood’s match up with AFC Bournemouth is being shown live on ITV4 and ITV Hub.
The away allocation for this fixture has SOLD OUT.
You can keep up with the action via our Twitter and Instagram pages, where there will be regular updates throughout the course of the match.
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