Cherries defeated for first time this pre-season
AFC Bournemouth suffered their first defeat of pre-season with a 2-0 loss at Nottingham Forest on Saturday.
Goals either side of half-time from Tendayi Darikwa and Gil Dias were enough to settle the contest in favour of the hosts at the City Ground.
With the interval approaching, Darikwa was left with the simplest of finishes to nudge home Diogo Goncalves’ delivery.
And early in the second period Forest grabbed their second as Dias broke into the box and placed a shot into the far corner.
Cherries boss Eddie Howe will be disappointed to see his side suffer defeat but there was important game time for a number of his first team players, ahead of home friendlies with Real Betis and Marseille next weekend.
Despite a lively opening, clear cut chances were few and far between at either end.
The closest the Cherries came were blocked shots in quick succession for David Brooks and Lys Mousset, shortly before the latter screwed wide as the hosts failed to clear a corner.
Eddie Howe’s side were beginning to settle into the contest and on 20 minutes forced Costel Pantilimon into action.
Brooks seized on a loose ball in the middle of the park, brilliantly nudging it over the advancing leg of Jack Colback before striding away from his marker.
The summer signing then slipped in Wilson, who tried to round Pantilimon, only for the giant Romanian stopper to get a block on his angled drive.
But it was the hosts who broke the deadlock in the 36th minute.
A sweeping move down the left saw Goncalves deliver it on a plate for Darikwa, who had burst forward from his right-back role to tap in at the far post.
Buoyed by that goal, Forest went in search of a second before the break and Artur Boruc had to get down well to smother efforts from Goncalves and Adlene Guedioura.
They got that second goal but had to wait until three minutes after the restart to double their advantage.
Danny Fox’s long, diagonal pass found Dias wide on the right and the Monaco loanee had plenty to do but shrugged off the attentions of Charlie Daniels before striding into the area and curling a left footed shot beyond Boruc.
Brooks threatened to half the deficit when he drifted in off the touchline and beat his marker but planted his strike the wrong side of the upright.
But Nottingham Forest were soon back on the front foot and Boruc was called upon to thwart full-back Ben Osborn, who snatched at a loose ball inside the area.
Substitute Hillal Soudani almost added a late third for the home side but Boruc spared any further blushes by tipping round the post.
New arrival David Brooks was signed to attack extra creativity to the Cherries’ ranks and displayed his ability to do just that at the City Ground.
Whether it was probing runs, intelligent passing or taking on the Forest defence, the 21-year-old was Bournemouth’s biggest threat going forward.
Two shining examples came in either half. The first saw him dink the ball over Jack Colback’s attempted tackle and glide forwards, all in one move, before carving out an opening for Callum Wilson.
And the second was an outrageous reverse pass which dissected the entire home defence, with only a last ditch block preventing Wilson from getting on the scoresheet.
A defensive test
While Nottingham Forest may be a Championship side, they have pushed the boat out in terms of signings this summer are many pundits’ tip to secure a return to the Premier League after 19 years away.
Some expensive attacking signings from European giants like Benfica and Monaco, coupled with this being their final warm-up match before the second tier kicks off next week, meant this was arguably Bournemouth’s sternest defensive test to date.
And as the hosts ran out 2-0 winners with a couple of well-crafted goals, Cherries boss Eddie Howe will have learned much about his team’s rearguard as they step up their own pre-season campaign.