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Championship Preview: Bournemouth vs Nottingham Forest

Goldsands Stadium, Saturday 26th April 2014 3pm kick off

Form(Last 8 Championship games)

Bournemouth: DLDWWWWW

Nottingham Forest: WWLDLDLL

  • Bournemouth are without a win  in 3 after a damaging Easter period, draws to Yeovil and Ipswich, separated by a loss to Sheffield Wednesday leave the Cherries’ Play Off hopes in tatters. Meanwhile, Forest have enjoyed a mini revival under Gary Brazil after back to back wins over Birmingham and Leeds. The victories leave the Reds just 2 points off the top six approaching the final 2 games of the regular season.
  • When the two sides met in October it took a late Mark Pugh strike to steal a draw for Bournemouth, cancelling out a fine Henri Lansbury strike in the first half for Forest.
  • The Cherries recently enjoyed a 5 match winning streak culminating in a 3-1 victory over Play Off rivals Reading, but the last week has all but ended their hopes of promotion. Forest, on the other hand, have the chance to gatecrash the end of season party after capitalising on their opponents failure to pull away, an interesting, exciting and, potentially, joyous week awaits for Forest.

No matter how the season ends for Eddie Howe’s side they can be proud of what they’ve achieved this year. Following promotion to the second tier many expected Bournemouth to be scrapping for their lives at this stage of the season but that has certainly not been the case. With just two games remaining they sit just 4 points off of sixth placed Reading, that may be too much ground to claw back now but they can look forward to next season  with great hope and promise of pushing on even further as a club.

Eddie Howe was recently voted Bournemouth’s best ever manager by the fans after 2 promotions with the club. After the side’s success in League 2 Howe left to take over at Burnley where things didn’t particularly work out as he would’ve wanted, but the Cherries’ hierarchy welcomed him back with open arms and Bournemouth stormed towards the Championship. The start of this season saw many inconsistent results and some real thumping defeats at the Goldsands, but Howe pulled his men together. The return of Matt Ritchie, the acquisition of Yann Kermorgant from Charlton and the good goalscoring form of Lewis Grabban propelled the Cherries into top six contention.

Despite all the positives of the season Bournemouth fans may be inclined to feel some disappointment as they do seem to have fallen out of contention for the Play Offs. Two draws and a quite incredible defeat at home to Sheffield Wednesday has seen them fall from dark horses to distant challengers. There is still a slight chance should they manage to overcome Forest on Saturday and then go and grab a win at the den and I’m sure Howe won’t give up till it’s mathematically impossible.

This roller coaster Nottingham Forest season shows no signs of slowing down as we approach its climax. Back to back wins has shot Forest right back into the Play Off mix, just two points now separate Forest in 8th and Reading in 6th, occupying the final Play Off spot. It’s quite incredible Forest still have a chance for promotion after their wretched two month spell which saw no win in 12 Championship matches. It just shows how unpredictable and competitive this League is.

A decisive component of the last two victories has been Forest’s ability to see out the games. So often under Billy Davies they conceded late on after sitting back on a 1-0 lead, but this past week has seen clean sheets and solid defensive performances for the Reds. Against Birmingham they really should have put the game to bed before half time, however this didn’t matter in the end due to Birmingham’s toothless attack and the Forest solidity. Likewise, at Elland Road a Matt Derbyshire brace was followed by another clean sheet, mainly thanks to youngster Jamaal Lascelles’ strength and domination over the Leeds front line. Lascelles has suffered from the calming absence of Jack Hobbs in recent months but he seems to be coming into form just at the right time.

Gaining all three points this Saturday would be a huge statement of intent from the Reds entering the last set of fixtures. They do have to rely on Reading slipping up during their last two games but the last day against Brighton promises to be a momentous clash at the City Ground where the winner takes all. Bournemouth will be tricky opponents, however and Forest should not take this game at all lightly.

Forest should be on a high of their last two games and with Bournemouth’s season (barring miracles) all over the Reds can go to the Goldsands and pick up three points. I think it’ll be 1-0 Forest.

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