Date: 3 May 2022
One very special moment, seven and a half minutes before the end of normal time in this match, will ensure that this game – and this night – will be remembered for ever by Bournemouth fans.
The team lined up unchanged from the Blackburn match with only one tweak (Laird for Lowe) on the bench. So we had three defenders in reserve – Laird, Mepham, Brady – as well as the substitute everyone wanted to see: Moore.
So much was at stake for both sides (an automatic promotion for us if we won, though this seemed unlikely given Forest’s recent form), so both teams fought hard throughout the first half. Steve Cook needed two lengthy periods of treatment but was able to play on. Solanke wasn’t at his best – too many of his passes went awry – and Christie was very quiet except for one vital clearance when he helped out in defence. Half time: 0-0.
On sixty minutes Bournemouth were enjoying a purple patch and Parker made a change: Moore for Lerma. But this didn’t mean we played two up front. Retaining our usual shape Moore now played in the number 9 position while the midfield line-up (right to left) became Anthony, Christie, Billing, Solanke. Everyone adapted to their new roles well, but still the game remained goalless – until the decisive moment when Zemura was tripped up on the edge of the area and we hoped (based on recent performances) that Anthony wouldn’t take the free kick. He didn’t; it was Billing. We could all see Moore standing unmarked to Billing’s left and indeed the crowd were shouting his name, but somehow the Forest defenders didn’t spot the threat at all. Billing made as though to fire over the wall, the wall jumped, but the ball was instead side-footed to Moore who scored from a tight angle. A well-conceived set piece had come off to perfection. The sponsors made Moore their ‘man of the match’, somewhat inevitably as his goal will be talked about for decades to come, but across the game as a whole I’d have given it to Lewis Cook for the second home game in a row.
Now we needed to hold on to this lead. Travers took an age over a free kick and was yellow-carded for his delaying tactics. Parker brought on Pearson and Mepham for Anthony and Christie to shore up the defence; a tactic that often had dire consequences in Eddie Howe’s day but seems to work for Parker. Eight minutes were added at the end of the game – and Forest threw everything at us, even bringing their goalie forward on one occasion – but we held on. The scenes at the final whistle were amazing but unsurprising: a massive pitch invasion and flares set off.
We’d had our share of luck to be honest. A Forest penalty shout on the stroke of half time had been ignored by the referee. And several Forest shots on goal had missed by the narrowest of margins. But I had my share of personal good fortune too. I walked onto the pitch at the end (not running like everyone else, just strolling) and I remained in the stadium long enough to hear “Nollie give us a song” and “Sweet Caroline” before heading back to my car – and yet, despite the M25 being closed, I was home by five past eleven. The advantages of an early kick-off!
The team lined up as follows at the start of the game:
Smith, Phillips, Kelly, Zemura;
Christie, Lerma, Billing, Anthony;