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Matt-trick on the cards?

9 February 2013

By Tony Leighton

Bournemouth's new signing Matt Ritchie is hoping to complete a hat-trick of npower League 1 victories in the same season over his first club Portsmouth when he makes his home debut for the Cherries on Saturday.

Ritchie, who was signed at the end of January from Swindon Town, was on the scoresheet when the Robins won 2-1 at Pompey and then provided the assist for the first goal in a 5-0 thumping of his hometown club at the County Ground.

Now the 23-year-old winger, last season's League 2 Player of the Year for his displays in Swindon's race to promotion, is aiming to heap more misery on Pompey as the in-form Cherries look to boost their own promotion hopes.

That's not to say that Ritchie wishes any harm on his beleaguered old club, whose financial problems have been well documented during their fall from the Premier League to the relegation zone of League 1.

Ritchie told "It will be strange to play against Portsmouth for the third time in the same season, but my feelings for my old club will go out of the window for 90 minutes and I'll do my utmost to help Bournemouth win.

"I'm really unhappy for Portsmouth and what's happened to them, though. It was less than three years ago when I made my debut in the Premier League for the club and it's very sad to see the situation they're in now.

"There's a lot of good people at the club though, people who love the club, and the supporters are brilliant. So hopefully the problems will be sorted and, whether they stay up or go down this season, they can start afresh."

Ritchie is himself starting afresh as he begins a Bournemouth career that opened brightly at Milton Keynes Dons last week, when he was a second-half substitute in a 3-0 win that put the Cherries fourth in the table.

That result continued a renaissance for the club under back-again manager Eddie Howe, whose return to the South Coast from his spell in charge of Championship outfit Burnley has led to a dramatic change in fortunes.

Thirteen wins and just one defeat in 19 league games have seen the Cherries climb from the relegation zone to within four points of the automatic promotion places. "Eddie Howe is a great young English manager," said Ritchie.

"He's really turned things round at Bournemouth, and I'm looking forward to working with him and a very good squad of players who have put together a great run of results to put the club in the promotion picture.

"I know that I'll have to work really hard to get myself into the team, but after playing in League 2 last season I feel that I've adapted pretty well to League 1 and my aim is to continue improving with my new club.

"Hopefully I can help us get promoted. It would be brilliant for me personally because it would mean two promotions in successive seasons, but more importantly it would mean playing for Bournemouth in the Championship."

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