AFC Bournemouth defeated Nottingham Forest 1-0 at Vitality Stadium to secure promotion back to the Premier League
AFC Bournemouth will be playing Premier League football next season, after a 1-0 victory over fellow promotion rivals Nottingham Forest. A shaky first half left it all to play for but the second half performance was one of Premier League quality and beyond.
Phillip Billing played a short freekick into Kieffer Moore in the 82nd minute, and the Welshman made no mistake from the back post, sending the Vitality Stadium into carnage. The win ensured that Scott Parker’s men would be playing Premier League football next season, after a Championship campaign to be proud off.
Before the game kicked off at Vitality Stadium, the whole ground was rocking, every supporter was on their feet, in the hope that they could do their bit to help Bournemouth secure promotion at the first possible chance this season.
Forest tried to get into Bournemouth’s heads before the game even started, swapping ends, Bournemouth attacking the Steve Fletcher stand in the first half for the first time this season.
Bournemouth pressed hard in the opening five minutes, Brice Samba being forced into some action in the early stages, Forest however were happy to let the game flow like this, using the pace of Brennan Johnson to break on the counter. Having received the amazing news earlier in the day that David Brooks was now cancer free, the whole ground rose from their seats in the seventh minute to clap Brooks.
Forest came closest early on, Sam Surridge hitting the top of the crossbar after Bournemouth gave away possession needlessly in the middle of the pitch. An important wake up call for the Cherries, who on the whole enjoyed the opening 10 minutes more.
The 17th minute saw the first corner of the game go the way of Nottingham Forest, the Reds utilising the wide areas well in build-up play. Steve Cook was left on the ground after a clash of heads and after a lengthy spell of treatment he was back on his feet, with the Cherries fans showing respect to a past legend of the club.
The Bournemouth players had a chat with Parker during the injury stoppage, Bournemouth seemingly maintaining a higher line from that point on, as a corner came and went for the home side.
Bournemouth’s best chance of the opening 30 came in the 28th minute, Zemura whipping in a cross, which would have been a tap in for Ryan Christie if it wasn’t for the quick-thinking Samba, who clawed it away from the Forest goal.
Zemura was then forced into a goal line clearance from a Johnson effort, end to end football was the story of the first half, as many expected pre-game.
Forest had a strong shout for a penalty in the 42nd minute, Surridge going down under pressure from Mark Travers in the Bournemouth goal, but the assistant referee ruled Surridge offside, a tight call.
The first half came to a close without any further clear cut chances for either side, a 0-0 halftime score summing up the close nature of the game up to the 45 minute mark.
The second half got off to a slow start, both teams looking nervy in possession, a foul by Steve Cook on the half way line gave Bournemouth their first real possession in the Forest half, which came to nothing, Zemura unable to breach the Forest defence with a surging run into the area.
Dominic Solanke frequently drifted into wide areas for the Cherries, but it was him who had the earliest chance of the half, Christie playing a brilliant through ball into the number nine, who fired his effort low and wide of the Forest goal. The chance did however wake the crowd up, the volume around the Vitality rising dramatically as the clock hit the 55-minute mark.
Bournemouth, clearly inspired by the rise in volume, entered a dominant period of the game, set pieces came and went for the home side. Kieffer Moore was the first substitute to enter the frame, replacing Jefferson Lerma in the 59th minute, Lerma seemingly having suffered a knock early in the second half.
Forest, after soaking up a long period of Bournemouth pressure, seemed to resort to long ball tactics as the half wore on, they appeared to have very little idea how to break the Bournemouth back line..
Phillip Billing surged into the Forest box in the 65th minute, weak shouts of a Bournemouth penalty waved away by Stuart Attwell, before Samba gathered the ball. The Bournemouth pressure simply did not let up, attack after attack for the home team, the desire for automatic promotion shown by winning nearly every 50/50 ball, and forcing fouls from Forest players, just to get a break in play.
As the clock ticked over 75 minutes, it’s hard to describe quite how on top of the game Bournemouth were since the start of the second half, Forest looked tired and out on their feet, while Bournemouth were playing like they could run forever. Parker’s midweek comments about his squad being the fittest in the league seemed to be coming true in front of a sellout crowd at the Vitality Stadium.
Forest’s first sight of goal after the break came in the 79th minute, Yates missing the target by a distance after launching himself at the ball to get on the end of a cross.
Zemura’s lightning quick footwork won Bournemouth a free kick right on the edge of the Forest area. Billing played the ball out wide to Moore who buried it into the bottom corner past Samba. 1-0 Bournemouth in the 82nd minute. All Bournemouth needed to do now was hold on to the lead for 10 minutes plus stoppage time, and they would be playing Premier League football next season. It’s absolutely what Bournemouth deserved after a delightful 40 minutes of football.
Christie and Jaidon Anthony made way for Ben Pearson and Chris Mepham. Two defensive changes for Parkers men. After the goal, it was still Bournemouth who played the better football, right up until the final whistle.
Fans flooded the pitch at full time, chants rang out around the stadium, and Bournemouth are back in the Premier League. What a night of football.