Double Forest Blast Stuns Cherries
19th August 2014, 7.45pm
'Football........bloody hell' were the famous words once uttered by Alex Ferguson. They could have been written again tonight as Cherries fans watched their team completely destroy Nottingham Forest for 67 minutes..................and lose.
Eddie made two changes tonight - Saturday's hero Stanislas made his full league debut for Pugh and Francis had a slight hamstring change so Smith stepped in.
The opening exchanges were slick from both sides and played at a very high tempo but few on chances. There was just one in fact and it fell to the home side when the impressive Smith played a series of one twos before his shot was palmed behind by Darlow.
Forest were flattering to decieve with the odd ponderous attack but entered a staggering 35 minutes when they literally failed to get out of their own half. We have had several incredible passages of play with Eddie at the helm but this was the most impressive in terms of possession and movement. Time and time again Forest were ripped apart but, and this is the crucial factor, a sea of crosses flew across the area with the forwards always on the back foot and not attacking the ball.
The closest the home side came to a goal was when Ritchie curled a free kick against the upright from an oblique angle and Arter's follow up was blocked. The switching of play was a joy to watch as the long balls pinged around the park from a back on form Arter and O'Kane. Stanislas was inventive and sharp and Ritchie his mercurial best but the end result was always a corner....countless corners.
Bournemouth were never to make the most of the flag kicks though - one wonders whether Harte is worth playing just for his ability to land these on peoples heads as we wasted them with high hopeful punts time after time. It was left to Arter to volley over a rebound and Ritchie to wriggle through but be blocked by the impressive Darlow but the ball still wouldn't go into the net.
Forest had one chance all half - Assombalonga heading over Antonios cross. Bournemouth were straight back down the other end with Smith again being denied after bursting into the box and the half finished with more corners and Forest hanging on.
HT Bournemouth 0 Notts Forest 0
Credit Stuart Pearce for not holding back (I don't think anyone ever thought this would be an issue for him) and he made two substitutions at half time. Crucially he changed formation as well to one up front and packed the midfield to stop our constant possession.
To be honest it had little effect as the Bournemouth juggernaut rolled on with wave after wave of red pouring towards the North Stand. Again though - crosses were not met and it started to be hard to see where a goal was going to come from.
Smith had other ideas though and went on an amazing run that left Lichaj in a heap before laying back to Ritchie. The Cherries play-making winger looked up and fired a delicious cross in that Kermorgant challenged Darlow for only to see the ball run free for the lurking WILSON to turn and hook into the empty net for his third in three games.
The stadium erupted - finally the opener had arrived and all was set for the floodgates to open as dejected Forest collapsed. Football is a game of tiny, tiny margins and the two seminal moments in the match arrived in quick succession. First Arter pounced on a loose ball and released Kermorgant one on one with Darlow. Normally such an assured and aggressive finisher only the player himself will know why he elected not to shoot but to chip a crossed pass to Wilson who had kept up with him. The ball was too far ahead of the scorer and the moment had gone. A goal then would have buried Forest, no question.
Down at the other end fate was about to play it's next hand. Pushed lightly by Assombalonga a prone Elphick grabbed the ball with his hand - maybe assuming a foul was about to be given. It wasn't coming - and nor should it have with a fair shoulder charge. This gave Forest a free kick on the left. In it came and Mancienne rose completely unmarked to head the ball which flicked in the far post almost in slow motion off ASSOMBALOMGA. Nobody had taken up a position on the post - it was Forest's first effort on target.
The stadium was stunned into silence but worse was to come. Buoyed by the goal Forest started playing and from their second effort on target shortly after they took the most unexpected of leads. It was too easy again for Burke to wriggle to the touch line and cross to the far post where FRYATT came in too freely to head past Camp.
Eddie threw on Pugh and Fraser for Ritchie and Stanislas and Rantie for Arter but the game had gone and we were now facing a locked door and a camped defence and Darlow was not tested again.
FT Bournemouth 1 Forest 2
Camp 6 - Precious little to do bar pick ball out of net twice.
Smith 8 - Fantastic replacement for Francis. Inventive and quick.
Elphick 6 - Solid in main but both forwards scored with headers.
Cook 6 - See Elphick.
Daniels 7 - Bright, particularly first half, let cross come in for 2nd.
Ritchie7 - Extremely tricky and inventive display - full of ideas/runs
O'Kane 7 - Pinged ball all over park and intelligent reading of game
Arter 7 - Back to the player we know - harrying, passing superb.
Stanislas 7 - Very encouraging display of dribbling and crosses
Kermorgant 6 - An off-day in passing and should have shot!
Wilson 7 - Intelligent holding play and pounced for another.
The lack of forwards who get in front of defenders on crosses will cost us if not rectified. Wilson likes to be put through and Kermorgant is good on the air but both were slow to react tonight to those clever moves that finish with a low cross we pull off so often. You can't play that well and not score - and anyone at the ground will say that in the first half we have rarely if ever played better. How can that be - and yet the ball not really look like it was ever going into the net.
We desperately need another striker. Again he didn't trust Rantie (rightly) until very late. Kermorgant had a great burst for us at the end of last season but his statistics will show he is not prolific and Wilson is still learning how to get in front of defenders at this level. They need help up there and they need competition. Above all if one gets injured we are knackered.
The other slight concern was the conceding of two routine headers - our achilles heel last year (and in many other years to be fair). We wiped it out last year but tonight it was back in all its glory. Set pieces were brilliant under Ian Harte - for once we scored goals from them - we wasted our mountain of corners today and we need a solution.
We need to be careful we don't become the Arsenal of the championship with plenty of plaudits but no ability to hurt and always giving away headers at the other end. I think additions are needed to enable this. Still you can't knock the sheer brilliance of play we witnessed in the first half - it was an absolute joy. We just need to make it joy with an edge. Eddie will be working on it as we speak....
Report by Neil Dawson