Bournemouth away doesn’t bring back pleasant memories for travelling Forest fans. Firstly, a postponement when many were en route or on the beach, then a crushing defeat to send the hosts up. The Reds were hoping it would be third time lucky as Forest went in search of a back-to-back away league win.
Three changes were made by Steve Cooper from their home win against Leicester: Wayne Hennessey came in between the sticks, Willy Boly returned to the defence and Chris Wood started up top after signing the day before the match. Bournemouth, the only side to have conceded more than Forest in the league, were in search of their first win in six games.
Forest elected to swap sides and shoot towards their own fans in the first half, as they bombarded down their right wing early on. Serge Aurier was seen well forward and he created the game’s first opening on six minutes, played in by Brennan Johnson. The Ivorian’s cut back found Morgan Gibbs-White on the penalty spot, but Forest’s record signing saw his first time effort pushed away by goalkeeper Neto.
Both teams like to play on the counter-attack so neither team was able to settle early on as an energetic opening transpired. Bournemouth’s first opportunity came in the eighth minute when a recycled corner fell to Jaidon Anthony on the edge of the box, but cutting in from the left, his effort deflected wide of the post.
As the now infamous chant goes, Forest fans were ready to dive into the sea when Ryan Yates put his side ahead on 13 minutes. Gibbs-White chipped a free-kick to the far post where Boly headed across goal for Yates, who made no mistake in powering a header past Neto from close range. However, VAR intervened and adjudged Boly to be offside as the goal was chalked off.
This good fortune seemed to give the hosts some inspiration, as they had a spell high up the pitch but lacked a final ball to create any meaningful chances. Their biggest chance came when Forest switched off after conceding a throw-in, with the Cherries taking a quick one. Full-back Jordan Zemura was found on the left wing and flashed a lovely cross right onto the head of Kieffer Moore, as the striker bundled over from all of five yards.
Three minutes later, Moore would breathe a sigh of relief as his side took the lead. On the break, debutant Dango Ouattara strided away from Renan Lodi on Bournemouth’s right and played an early ball across to Anthony. Boly couldn’t keep up as Anthony cushioned it with his right boot, before excellently guiding the ball into the far corner, scoring his second goal of the season against Forest.
The Vitality Stadium had seen the fewest goals of any Premier League ground this season, so the lead was much appreciated by the home crowd. Neither side could say they deserved to be on top at this stage as Bournemouth were looking to move to within a point of their visitors.
Forest were one-dimensional in the first half, with their only threat coming down their right-hand side with Gibbs-White often seen over there alongside Johnson and Aurier.
Bournemouth had a pair of misses on the goal line after 34 minutes, with Anthony involved again. His forward ball found Moore who was through on goal but saw Hennessey in the way, as Zemura’s rebound was bundled away by captain Joe Worrall.
The Cherries were unlucky not to go in at half-time further in front, when Zemura and Anthony linked up down the left wing and the former’s cross was headed wide by Ryan Christie. A goal down wasn’t the end of the world for Forest but they had to amend their poor showing in the opening 45, making hard work of proceedings as they often failed to clear and couldn’t build any confidence on the ball.
After some early second-half possession, Forest worked the first chance of the half as Johnson sent a low ball in and after Wood and Gibbs-White got in the way of each other, Remo Freuler mis queued a chance from the penalty spot, allowing Bournemouth to clear.
The Cherries came close to a second just after the hour, after some tricky wing play from Anthony. He fed Christie whose shot was blocked into the path of Moore who sent an effort from the edge of the box just wide of Hennessey’s far post.
Bournemouth were quite happy to sit on their lead and try to hold on, as Brazilian trio Renan Lodi, Gustavo Scarpa and Danilo shone through in red. Both off the bench, midfield duo Scarpa and Danilo were passing with confidence and vision, quickening up the pace of Forest’s dull attack.
Neto was nearly falling asleep in the host’s net but found himself picking the ball out of his net with seven minutes to play. Gibbs-White lifted Johnson in on the byline, who delivered a pacey ball across goal from the right. Super sub Sam Surridge was there to gobble up the tap in and send the away end into raptures. Déjá vû seemed to be occurring as VAR took a stern look over the goal but after a long wait, Surridge’s first Premier League goal was confirmed, against his old side.
Forest looked the more threatening in the closing stages but didn’t have enough to force a winner in a game where both teams would be happy with a point. For Bournemouth it ended a very unwelcome losing streak and for Forest it ensured their hosts didn’t make any ground on them and they stayed four points clear of the drop zone.
Cooper’s side have shown they are better than today’s performance over the past few games in a match where neither team ever really looked like they were in control, as the Red’s now look forward to a tasty two-legged League Cup semi-final with Manchester United.