Graham Pearcey

Graham Pearcey

Cherries 2 Fulham 1

Date: 1 April 2023

A classic ‘game of two halves’ where the huge difference between our performances before and after the break took not only our opponents, but also our own fans, by surprise!

The day started well. It was a Saturday game; the kick-off was at 3; there were no rail strikes; and no engineering work either. A rare combination these days! The team lined up unchanged; not a bad line-up in my opinion though Kelly never gets forward as a left back; he remains solidly in a defensive position, very different from Smith (today’s ‘man of the match’?) on the opposite flank.

Fulham totally dominated the first half. Even so, their goal (from Pereira, straight down the middle) was an odd sight because Neto appeared totally stationary, which is not like him. I was forced to wonder whether he’d assumed an opponent to be offside; indeed there was a VAR check for offside but the goal stood. Fulham also hit the crossbar later in this half so we were fortunate that the half time score was only 0-1 not 0-2. Their fans were singing “You’re going down with the Forest” – though they’d be very quiet later on!

We’d had a couple of chances to score in the first half – the best coming for Ouattara – but no hint of what was to come after the break.

Initially I was disappointed with O’Neil’s decision to drop Ouattara and Anthony at half time, as they’d been arguably our best two players up to this point. But suddenly the team seemed more lively, and the first ten minutes of the second period were all played in Fulham’s half. And then one of the two substitutes, Tavernier, scored a wonderful goal – a curving shot from Bournemouth’s right at a moment when he and Christie had temporarily swapped flanks and Fulham’s keeper had fortunately palmed the ball away to just where Tavernier was standing. Our second goal was an untidy affair – Fulham’s defence being in a muddle and Solanke being on hand to bundle the ball over the line. But they all count; and Solanke was thus rewarded for all the hard work he’d put in in an afternoon when, up to this moment, he’d done everything but score.

Despite us dominating the second half, the six added minutes at the end were very tense. It’s great that we’ve won two home games in a row, but I do wish that just once we could win by more than the single goal!

The team lined up as follows at the start of the game:

Smith, Stephens, Senesi, Kelly;
Rothwell, Lerma;
Ouattara, Billing, Anthony;

By the end the line-up was:

Smith, Stephens, Senesi, Kelly;
Billing, Lerma;
Christie, Traore, Tavernier;

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