Ahead of the first-round League Cup fixture between Bournemouth and Southampton, Lee Bradbury spoke exclusively to A Different League about tonight’s South Coast derby. An experienced right-back who has played much of his career as a striker, Bournemouth’s Bradbury spent seven years over two separate spells plying his trade at Fratton Park, so it would be foolish to question his knowledge on the trio of clubs that currently reside on the south coast.
Now registered as a Cherry, the Cowes born utility man fully understands the importance of victory on Tuesday night as his newly promoted Bournemouth team head down the coast for a Carling Cup clash with neighbouring Southampton.
“We’re looking forward to tomorrow,” he started. “Obviously it’s a cup game but we want to try and get that first win under our belts. We’re under no illusions that it’s going to be a tough game against the favourites and off the back of a 1-0 defeat against Plymouth, they are going to be well at it to try and beat us tonight,” said the well travelled hit man.
League One favourites Southampton were victims of a smash and grab defeat courtesy of Peter Reid’s Plymouth in their opening fixture, so a real emphasis will be placed on a self-assured Saints performance in mid-week. A typical summer of controversy swept through St Mary’s once more this year with Alan Pardew rumoured to be facing the sack for failing to deliver Championship football last term. An opening day defeat would have done little to ease the rumoured concerns of Chairman Nicola Cortese, who recently launched a scathing attack on the local media and has since banned them from the stadium.
This internal conflict will only aid the visitors cause in this mid-week showdown and Bradbury is eager to pile more misery onto a seemingly troubled Southampton. “The pressure is on them, they are expected to beat us and they are going to be on the attack more so maybe we’ll be able to get them on the break. We’ve got players in our team that can cause them problems so it might suit us but we’ve got to deal with what they throw at us first – the opening 20 minutes is going to be non-stop from their point of view.”
In what is sure to be a feisty affair, earmarked by most Cherries as ‘the only game of the season’ Bradbury insisted that one game does not make or break a campaign and that fans should enjoy their foray into a higher division, whatever the outcome. “The league is the main thing for us – staying in the league and getting to a healthy position in the league is our main expectation,” he underlined.
“It’s nice to go on a cup run and it is against a local side but it’s the points in the league that really matter: that’s where we’ll be judged this year I’m sure. I think we are good enough to make the top half of the table, so if we can get a good start and a little bit of self belief behind us then I think we can do well in this league.”
An avid football fan himself, the energized Bradbury knows full well what to expect when he steps onto the turf at St Mary’s, but promised to take it all in good spirit. “It’s all in the past. I’m sure I’ll get a bit of stick down there, it’s all in good fun and a good bit of banter so I don’t mind that,” he enthused, clearly appreciating the lighter side of the game.
With the constant chaos and disorder that has characterised football on the south coast of late, Bournemouth should take pride in the fact they have stayed out of the spotlight and are quietly going about their business, impatiently waiting to silence their noisy neighbours. This week, Lee Bradbury and the rest of the Cherries will have the chance to do it in their own back yard.