CHERRIES put the finishing touches to their home campaign with an emphatic victory over Championship rivals Nottingham Forest today.
Goals either side of half-time from Yann Kermorgant and Lewis Grabban put Eddie Howe’s men firmly in the driving seat and left Forest’s play-off hopes in tatters.
And although Greg Halford’s header halved the arrears for the visitors, Grabban converted a 70th-minute penalty before Kermorgant completed the scoring with a thunderous drive in stoppage time.
Defenders Tommy Elphick and Ian Harte were restored to the starting line-up as boss Eddie Howe made two changes following Cherries’ 2-2 draw at Ipswich on Easter Monday with Elliott Ward and Charlie Daniels making way.
Matt Ritchie went close to drawing first blood for Cherries when his rasping left-foot strike from 30 yards flashed past the upright after just two minutes.
Forest goalkeeper Dorus De Vries stood tall to beat away Grabban’s close-range volley after Kermorgant had hooked Eunan O’Kane’s cross into his path.
The visitors fashioned their first chance midway through the first half, although Stephen McLaughlin’s weak effort failed to trouble Lee Camp and trickled wide.
Andrew Surman dragged his shot wide following a surging run by Marc Pugh before Grabban wriggled free, only to fire high over the crossbar.
Matt Derbyshire managed to elude the offside trap but could not get past Camp, his low drive well saved by the Cherries goalkeeper six minutes before half-time.
Kermorgant made the breakthrough two minutes before the break when he headed home a hanging cross from Simon Francis after the defender had sprouted wings down the right flank to provide the assist.
Grabban doubled Cherries’ lead with an opportunist strike two minutes after the restart, the striker seizing on the loose ball and firing home his 21st goal of the season with a left-foot shot.
Kermorgant’s lavish attempt from 40 yards was clutched under the crossbar by De Vries – with some Cherries supporters in the East Stand claiming ball had crossed the line.
Forest halved the arrears through Halford after 56 minutes, the big defender climbing to meet a Ben Osborn free kick and powering a header past Camp from inside the six-yard box.
Halford wasted a good chance to level when he poked the ball over the crossbar after McLaughlin’s corner had been helped on by Osborn – and Forest were made to pay just seconds later.
As play quickly switched to the opposite end, Pugh’s trickery proved too much for Gonzalo Jara, the Forest substitute conceding a penalty after tripping the winger. And Grabban made no mistake when he sent De Vries the wrong way from the spot.
Simon Cox’s 30-yarder flew over the crossbar and Camp was forced to tip Osborn’s cross-shot past the post before Kermorgant had the final say when he rifled home a fourth in stoppage time.
Cherries: Camp, Francis, Cook, Elphick, Harte, Ritchie (Coulibaly, 90), Surman, O’Kane, Pugh (Fraser, 81), Grabban (Rantie, 88), Kermorgant.
Unused subs: Daniels, Smith, Arter, Allsop (g/k).
Forest: De Vries, Halford, Collins, Lascelles (Jara, 65), Harding, Osborn, Vaughan (Cox, 69), Peltier, McLaughlin (Henderson, 73), Mackie, Derbyshire.
Unused subs: Greening, Tudgay, Majewski, Evtimov (g/k).
Booked: Lascelles, Harding.
Referee: Simon Hooper (Wiltshire).
Attendance: 11,021 (including 1,422 away supporters).