Nottingham Forest ended their pre-season fixtures with a 2-0 win over Premier League side AFC Bournemouth at The City Ground.
Goals from Tendayi Darikwa and Gil Dias ensured that a fine performance from The Reds against their top-flight opponents got the result it deserved as they finish their preparations for the 2018-19 season on a high.
The Reds, wearing all white following the reveal of the brand new away kit, started well and looked confident in possession of the ball. A half-chance fell to Diogo Gonçalves inside the opening ten minutes, but he was shut out by the Bournemouth defence before The Cherries’ Lys Mousset sliced an effort wide following a free kick on 14.
A quick break by the visitors resulted in the first save of the game by Costel Pantilimon on 22, with the Romanian parrying Callum Wilson’s shot away from danger, but as the first half developed Forest grew more and more into the game.
The Portuguese trio of Gonçalves, João Carvalho and Dias were at the heart of things going forward and they played their part in the opening goal. Carvalho’s raking pass to the left wing set The Reds away on 36, Gonçalves tormented Jack Simpson to get to the byline and square for the simplest of finishes for Darikwa from inside the six-yard box.
Bournemouth were pegged back as Forest kept coming forward. Gonçalves saw a curled effort well saved by Artur Boruc after a superb kick by Pantilimon, Darikwa came close to his second of the game as he headed over the crossbar and Adlene Guedioura saw a daisy-cutter arrowing towards the bottom corner well held by Boruc.
The Reds were ahead at the break and it didn’t take long to double the advantage through a great finish by Dias on 48. Danny Fox’s raking pass found Dias on the right wing and the Portuguese outmuscled Charlie Daniels and raced into the area to fire past Boruc from a tight angle via the far post.
Whilst looking a threat going forward, Forest also looked solid defensively with Michael Dawson and Fox forming a solid partnership at the heart of the defence, with latter being called into action on 51 minutes to pull off a stunning sliding challenge to deny Wilson from getting in on goal.
A neatly-worked corner routine nearly paid off for Forest on 64 minutes as they went in search of a third goal, with Ben Osborn latching onto the loose ball but his shot was well saved.
A raft of changes for The Reds took the sting out of the game, but a surging run by substitute Joe Lolley on 87 minutes saw him travel over half of the pitch before squaring to fellow sub Hillal Soudani whose first-time effort drifted over the crossbar. The lively Soudani came closer a minute later as he received Lewis Grabban’s pass, controlled well but saw his low shot saved by Boruc.
In the end it was a comfortable victory for Aitor Karanka’s men as they head to Bristol City next weekend in fine shape to kick-off the Championship season.
Forest: Pantilimon, Darikwa, Dawson (c), Fox, Osborn, Colback (Watson 46’), Guedioura (Yates 79’), Gonçalves (Cash 70’), Carvalho (Lolley 70’), Dias (Soudani 70’), Murphy (Grabban 70’)
Unused subs: Smith, Figueiredo, Worrall, Robinson, Bridcutt, Lam, Brereton
Goal: Darikwa 36’, Dias 48’
Attendance: 14,108 (158 away)