Date: 2 February 2008
Any ‘neutrals’ who came along for a last chance to admire the mighty Forest before they got promoted, will have been disappointed with this match. The Nottingham boys never turned up. Their best chance of a goal was in the opening exchange of the game when a menacing ball, fired across the face of the Bournemouth goal, was not exploited. Thereafter, Forest sat back and seemed content to play the entire game in their own half. There were no clues, on the day, as to why this poor team has enjoyed such a good season.
Bournemouth dominated both halves of the game, but especially the first, and thoroughly deserved to win 2-0. Tessem had been dropped since the last match I’d watched, we’d switched to a straight 4-4-2 system, and this switch seemed to pay off throughout the game. We went 1-0 ahead after twenty minutes when Vokes’ head converted a cross from Gradel. By the half hour mark Vokes - clearly on a ‘high’ after rejecting an opportunity to move to Crewe during the week - made it 2-0 when he was fed a ball along the ground by Kuffour, though Gradel had a part in this move too.
I don’t suppose any Bournemouth fan thought the score would stay at 2-0; we’ve seen 2-0 leads overturned often enough. But it did and, in fact, we pushed for more. Not long after the second goal, Bartley had a great opportunity to score his first senior goal for the club, but inexperience (perhaps) prevented him from capitalising on it. Shortly after that, Gradel was involved in a brilliant display that saw him win the ball and take on several Forest defenders. He seemed to have achieved the ‘difficult’ bit before fluffing the ‘easy’ bit, shooting into an inviting goalmouth. In fairness, in looking for someone to pass to, he seemed not to have noticed the goal open up in front of him. When he did notice - probably because he heard the cries of the crowd - he panicked and ballooned the ball high over the crossbar. Nonetheless, it was satisfying to think that the half time score was a deserved 2-0 and could have been 4-0!
The second half continued along the same lines. Vokes was denied any chance of a hat-trick when Bond rested him and brought on Pitman in a straight swap, which made little difference. Vokes had a great game. Hollands was steady as always in midfield. Stewart had a quiet game but did nothing wrong. To be honest, no-one in the Bournemouth line-up had a bad game, though the left wing (Cummings - Gradel) worked rather more effectively as a partnership than the right.
The resultant three points made it seem that we had a very real chance, even now, of avoiding relegation. This was, of course, when it was still theoretically possible to avoid administration and the attendant loss of ten points. All this would change a week later…
The starting line-up (with my scores out of ten) was :
Cooper (7), Gowling (6), Perrett (6), Cummings (7);
Bradbury (6), Bartley (7), Hollands (7), Gradel (7);
Kuffour (6), Vokes (8).