Forest sparkle, but it’s too late to catch Bristol..

Nottingham Forest – 3
AFC Bournemouth – 0

It was all looking good at half time, or so we thought – we were 1-0 up, and according to the half time scores Bristol were 1-0 down.  Of course, it later transpired that City had achieved a late equaliser against Carlisle in the first half.  As we cruised to a 3-0 win over Bournemouth, rumours of Carlisle leading swept the stands in the form of a chant – only again, to be wrong.  Bristol triumphing 3-1 up north has pretty much given them second place – and congratulations to them, a fine result considering Carlisle’s recent run of form.

Our game started reasonably well – it was Smith in action first after McGoldrick shot from range, it looked bound for the post but Smith made sure and dived to palm it around for a corner.  Our first chance fell to Grant from a Commons cross, he forced he save and Jack attempted to pounce on the fumble, although the flag was up and the chances are the fussy ref would have given a foul on the keeper anyway.

The lead came from a superb goal from Commons.  Perch got the ball to him and he unleashed an absolute piledriver from around 25 yards with his right foot.  The Cherries weren’t done yet – McGoldrick, who seemed to play both in midfield and up front – forced another cracking save from Smith.  Lewis put in a fine ball across the Bournemouth goal, but Grant was a little too far to connect at the far post.

Then came perhaps the most decisive moment of the game – Neil Young gifted the ball to Jack, who burst forward only to be cynically felled by the Bournemouth captain with a dangerous looking challenge from behind.  Given that there were two defenders covering, the red card seemed harsh where I was sitting – it was a bad foul, and maybe a professional one, but certainly he wasn’t anything like the last man.  Still, can’t complain, but I would be if I was a Bournemouth fan!

The freekick was quickly taken by Commons, chipping over the Bournemouth defence to find Grant, unfortunately the keeper wasn’t quite as slow to react as the defence and was able to avert any danger from the move.  And so the half wound to a close, Forest had certainly had most of the play – but it was Bournemouth who’d had more decent chances – so whilst we certainly weren’t unhappy with the performance, it was far from one sided.

The second half saw Bournemouth reinvented in a 4-4-1 formation, with substitute Brett Pitman alone upfront, but they really didn’t have much of an answer to long periods of Forest possession.  Some fans were starting to sound impatient with our patient build-up, but seeing us look to keep the ball was just what I wanted to see – sure, we could have used more movement off the all at times, but keeping the ball is important and isn’t something we’ve excelled at this season!

The first chance of note for us was from the excellent Jack Lester, who found himself a mere foot of space to fire off a left footed deliciously curling shot, which cruelly rebounded from the post and evaded a first time rebound effort from McGugan.  It wasn’t to take long for us to double our advantage, however, and it was Commons again.

John Curtis – playing in virtually a free role given the lack of Bournemouth attackers – fed he ball to Kris who unleashed another piledriver, this time with his conventional left foot – it looked to be heading over but dipped wickedly, struck the bar before bouncing into the goal and then into the roof of the net – a tremendous finish once again leaving the Bournemouth keeper with absolutely no chance.

From this point Bournemouth gave up – and Forest piled on pressure with almost endless possession.   Wright crossed for Lester at pace, but he put it wide – but eventually Commons was to turn provider as he crossed for Prutton who headed it back across the goal, rebounding from Cummings and into the net – how the announcer could credit the goal to Prutts, I’m not sure – but 3-0 was a desered scoreline.

Commons continued to pepper the Cherries penalty area with dangerous crosses – Grant flicked on to Lester who seemed destined not to score.  Shortly after this he looked most likely to do so, wriggling free of the Bournemouth defence he found himself facing the Bournemouth keeper – who had wasted no time in closing him down very quickly, and blocking the shot with his legs.

Bastians replaced McGugan to a rapturous applause, and almost scored with his first touch as Lester set up a chance for him from a tight angle – but he just clipped it over the bar.  Bournemouth looked game on for a consolation when Purches snuck past Alan Wright, he’d done everything right until he got sight of goal and dragged his shot wide of the post much to the irritation of the long-suffering Bournemouth fans infront of him!

Gary Holt replaced his namesake Grant, and immediately came close sliding into the goalmouth but unable to reach the ball – and taking out a defender AND the keeper in the process!  But that was it, as news filtered around that Bristol had indeed beaten Carlisle it took the shine off the day somewhat – but it was a good performance and despite the disappointment of results elsewhere, most fans seemed keen to make the best of it.

The travelling Bournemouth fans deserve a mention too – they tried so hard to wind us up but didn’t really manage it, but they were in good voice given the match they were enduring – and we had a bit of fun with them nonetheless.  They became honourary Bristol fans for the day, and took great glee in keeping us up to date with the scores – to which they were greeted with chants of our forthcoming Wembley appearance (hmm, nowt like counting your chickens, eh!?), but my favourite was a rendition of “Que Sera Sera” aimed at them, but with the last line changed to ‘You’re going to Notts County!’ – top marks for that, a rare example of amusing chants at home matches.

dsc00084.jpgThere were some interesting characters amongst the travellers too – there was a Kenny Rogers lookalike in a safari hat, the world’s angriest man in a hideous black shirt with pink stripes, and (pictured), the fat bloke from the front of Fat Boy Slim’s second album, a middle-aged balding man with a mail-order bride and the usual bunch of chavs under the scoreboard trying to give it large – they seemed like a decent bunch of fans though who made the best of a poor performance from their team!

So, the playoffs now do loom large – and will be reality if Bristol don’t drop points in both of their remaining games.  Since they face Rotherham at home on the last day, I can’t see that happening – so I fear we need to take our recent good performances onward into the playoffs, and reluctantly offer our congratulations to City for attaining automatic promotion.