Alan Connell's young Cherries in late turnaround victory over Bristol Rovers.
AFC Bournemouth Under-18s came from behind late on to earn a dramatic 4-3 win against Bristol Rovers Under-18s on Saturday.
A penalty awarded to Bournemouth for a foul on Jake Cope was missed by Jake Scrimshaw, before Rovers went two goals in front courtesy of Harry Warwick and Tom Mehein.
The Cherries grew into the game late in the first half, and Scrimshaw’s strike offered a sight back into it, but Warwick’s 45th minute penalty meant Bristol held the two goal-lead at half-time.
Alan Connell’s side responded in brilliant fashion, netting three second half goals through Scrimshaw, Luke Nippard, and a stoppage-time winner from Nathan Clements.
The home side, off the back of eight consecutive competitive games unbeaten, didn’t start the way their form might suggest, Scrimshaw missing a spot-kick aimed at the bottom right corner.
Insult was added to injury with Bristol’s first goal, Warwick placing into the bottom left corner inside eight minutes, before Mehein bent a free-kick around the Bournemouth wall to make the lead more convincing.
As the first half wore on, the Cherries began to gain a foothold in the game, and it was Nathan Moriah-Welsh’s direct pass through the midfield that presented an opportunity for Scrimshaw to play a neat one-two with Nippard. Through on goal, Scrimshaw found the bottom left corner with the outside of his right boot.
On their way to half-time with the wind in their sails, Bournemouth’s goal was cancelled out right on the brink of the break, Warwick putting a penalty into the top left corner after Cameron Plain brought down Lewis Clutton in the box.
Heading into the second half trailing 3-1, Bournemouth had most of the ball without doing much with it until breaking through on the 65th minute, Nippard playing the ball inside to Scrimshaw who, surrounded by Bristol defenders, showed composure in finding the bottom right corner for his brace.
Bournemouth’s number nine almost had his hat-trick ten minutes later when he was played in by Christian Saydee, but his low shot was pushed around the post by Graeme Anderson.
The equaliser was finally found with seven minutes to go, Nippard and Scrimshaw combining again, this time the latter laying it off for Nippard to find the bottom right corner.
The comeback complete, the Cherries weren’t about to settle for a point, and it was deep into stoppage time when Nathan Clements, on as a substitute, received the ball from Nippard - who was involved in everything Bournemouth did going forward - before cushioning it onto the inside of the left post and wrong-footing the keeper on its way across the line, signalling emphatic celebrations from the Bournemouth supporters.
A relieved under-18s manager, Alan Connell, broke down the following topics with afcb.co.uk after the game:
"It was a crazy game. We’ve spoken before about the attitude and character of the players and while today we weren’t free-flowing or technically as good as I would want, there were some glimpses of really good play.
"The boys showed great resilience to comeback after missing a penalty in the first five minutes and conceding right after that. We were only ahead in the game during stoppage time. It shows that the boys always go until the very end.
"We talk about following the way the first team are, the history of the club and what’s got it where it is today, it’s been performances like that when we go to the end and show that willingness, drive, and physical capabilities as well as the mental ones to keep going."
Super sub Clements
"Nathan is currently out on loan at Bashley and has done well in their first team, they’re really happy with him. We felt it was the best use of his time to play men’s football with them, but today was an opportunity to get him back with us.
"His attitude and work-rate is always first class so for him to come on and make the impact and score with a lovely finish is really pleasing. He deserves that for how much he wants to improve all the time."
"We’ve probably only had one or two games this season when we’ve been almost perfect, but today we definitely weren’t. There were lots of things that weren’t quite right, but we’re at a stage in these players’ careers where results are important to a point.
"Aside from developing and performing well, they’ve got to have that mentality of wanting to be winners and not accepting being second best. It was nice to do that against a difficult opposition in Bristol Rovers. I’m delighted that we showed that winning mentality."
"Brighton are our opponents on Tuesday, and we get the best of both worlds in playing Category 3 teams like Bristol and Category 1 teams such as Brighton. The boys are getting loads of exposure to different types of football and ways of playing.
"Going away to Brighton will be tough, they’ve got great facilities, but we proved recently at Tottenham that we’re capable of going to these places and performing. We’re looking to perform at our best and hopefully get a result from that."
The AFC Bournemouth Under-18s side are sponsored by Strategic Solutions.