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First team

Game of my career: Lloyd Kelly

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AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

In this feature, which was originally published in the club's programme MATCHDAY, Lloyd Kelly remembers a memorable game in his career.

The Cherries will take on Bristol City in a pre-season friendly on Saturday 23rd July and promotion-winning skipper Kelly recalls how a game at left-wing at Ashton Gate proved pivotal in his early career.

BACKGROUND

Cherries defender Kelly is developing a growing reputation, largely for his outstanding performances at centre-back, his composure on the ball, his ability to pass and the leadership that he displays at such a young age.

However, it would surprise many to know that one of Kelly’s finest moments as a professional footballer came not in defence but playing at left midfield.

On Boxing Day 2017, Bristol City were taking on Reading looking to bolster their promotion credentials and Kelly had an appearance to remember.

Kelly had just three games to his belt at the time, two EFL Cup appearances against Plymouth Argyle and Watford as well as a single Sky Bet Championship game, 64 minutes in a draw with QPR.

THE GAME

After a dull first-half, Bristol City put forward Jamie Paterson on looking for an impact, the substitute breaking the deadlock after 68 minutes with a superb right-footed effort.

With the score meaning that the Robins would move up to second in the table and the game into added time, Lee Johnson turned to teenager Kelly, replacing Paterson in left midfield to see the game out.

Kelly remembers to the club's programme, MATCHDAY: “I came on left-wing, which I’ve never done in my professional career, only in the younger age-groups, but the Gaffer wanted me to see out the last few minutes, it wasn’t the case of getting up the pitch and scoring goals.”

Nonetheless, in the final minutes of the game, it was Kelly who found the back of the net to double Bristol City’s advantage, but also to notch his first professional goal.

He recalls: “The ball broke forward; I think Josh Brownhill took a shot and the ‘keeper has parried it to the edge of the box and I’ve just taken a touch and hit it on the half volley.

“To be fair, I wasn’t expecting it to go in, it hit the back of the net and I’ve run off celebrating, I didn’t really know what to do.

“It was wet so I did a knee-slide and everyone came over, you could see everyone was buzzing for me. That’s one of the moments that stands out for me.

“I didn’t expect it, so it was probably a nicer feeling.”

AFTERWARDS

Kelly ended up playing 14 times in total in the 2017/18 season as the Robins finished in 11th place in the Championship.

The defender played 48 times for Bristol City, moving to the Cherries in May 2019. He’s turned out 92 times for Bournemouth, across both left-back and centre-back – but never at left midfield.

At just 23-years-old, Kelly has established himself as one of the first names on the team sheet under Scott Parker and was named the club’s captain in January after Steve Cook’s departure.

Would he play left-midfield again? “Yeah, I’ll take it – wherever the gaffer wants me! I did a little marauding run in training recently but didn’t get the ball! It is what it is.”

In May, Kelly became only the second captain to lead the Cherries to promotion to the Premier League, following Tommy Elphick in 2015. 

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