'Keeper Clarke steals show in U18s Millwall draw
With one of the final touches for the youth team in 2020, goalkeeper Josh Clarke - playing up front in the final minutes due to injuries - scored a Dennis Bergkamp-esque goal to claim a draw against Millwall in a friendly on Saturday.
Injuries and a first-team call-up for Ajani Burchall meant the Cherries youth team started their final match of the calendar year with just four substitutes, dominating a first half with Clarke in goal and keeping a clean sheet up to the break.
With further injuries coming in the match the Cherries were down to playing with ten men, young 'keeper Ollie Camis coming on for Clarke to gain experience - with Clarke later re-entering the fray in the final 15 minutes as an auxiliary striker to make up the numbers.
Having gone 1-0 down by that late stage, Clarke then took centre stage with a stunning piece of control and finish to end 2020 in barely believable fashion for the youth team.
AFC Bournemouth U18s 1-1 Millwall U18s
Manager Alan Connell picked up the story, beginning at the end: "Josh has never gone outfield in training, he works on his goalkeeping - and with all the finishing we do in training and all the chances we couldn't take today he's produced a moment that I don't think any of us will ever forget.
"Even among their staff and our staff no-one could quite believe it and Josh was on cloud nine afterwards. I don't think we'll hear the end of that one, especially with it being filmed.
"It was an incredible first touch and finish and as someone myself who idolized Dennis Bergkamp it reminded me a little bit of him.
"It was a really bizarre moment and probably summed up what's been a crazy 2020. It was one of the last touches of the year for our boys, an incredible moment that everyone enjoyed, Josh in particular."
The surreal moment of magic came at the end of a well-fought match at Canford Arena, with Connell pleased for his young side to take on strong opposition.
"It was really nice to welcome Millwall down," said the manager. "We had a really good game against them in the FA Youth Cup last year and their players and staff are really classy people. It was a game that was played in a really good spirit by both teams.
"In the first half we dominated for large spell, created numerous chances and had everything but the finishing touch. That was frustrating but I was pleased overall with the quality of our play and the chances we created.
"Millwall came out strongly in the second half and were more of a threat. They started to have more of the ball higher up the pitch which caused us problems.
"We had players coming back from injury and then picked up a couple more injuries during the game and went down to ten men for a while. We then had to defend and they scored in that spell.
"We'd already made the sub with bringing our under-16s 'keeper Ollie on for Josh and decided to go back to 11 players for the last minutes of the game - putting Josh up front to get back up to 11 players.
"Little did we know that he'd have the moment that he did. It wasn't just the goalkeeper scoring a goal but really intelligent movement off the back of a excellent pass from Ben Winterburn.
"The goal was something we deserved from the game and in the end we drew 1-1 against a very good category two side and go into the Christmas break in very good spirits."
The extraordinary backstory to the equalising goal and result came atop a strong performance put in by an especially young Cherries side, as Connell explained.
"Millwall were predominantly first-year scholars and we were a mixture with four second-year scholars, four first-year scholars and three under-16s starting," he said.
"We then finished the game with six under-16s on the pitch, so it was a really good day to see the younger ones and for them to be around some of the older lads as well. That made it a really encouraging day from a development point of view."