THE final home game of a season is always the perfect opportunity to both reflect on what has been and search for reasons to be optimistic for the future.

Saturday’s clash against Tottenham at Vitality Stadium gave Cherries fans exactly that.

Before the match against Spurs, club legend Marc Pugh was rewarded for his nine years of service with a guard of honour from the whole Cherries squad and staff before a presentation from boss Eddie Howe.

The winger moved to the south coast from Hereford for £100,000 in 2010. The fee, which was decided by a tribunal, was described at the time by then-vice-chairman Jeff Mostyn as “quite excessive”.

It is fair to say Pugh, now 32, added a fair amount to his value, and so much more.

Joining in League One, the tricky winger was a mainstay in the side which shot all the way up to the Premier League.

After finding playing time limited this season, Pugh joined Hull City on loan in January and will leave Cherries this summer upon the expiry of his contract having made more than 300 appearances and scored more than 50 goals for the Dorset club.

On his departure, he said: “I have had an amazing time at the football club, made some life-long friends and it’s been the best nine years of my life.”

As one hero said farewell, Cherries fans were treated to a man-of-the-match display by a new name on Saturday.

Goalkeeper Mark Travers had not even been part of a matchday 18 for a Premier League game before being handed a shock start by Howe for the visit of Spurs, becoming the youngest goalkeeper to start in the top flight for more than 12 years.

After a nervy first few minutes where he was almost lobbed by a Lucas Moura shot from inside his own half, the 19-year-old became the star of the show with a string of brilliant stops.

Dele Alli and Moura were both denied by eye-catching saves by a man whose last senior match was in the Southern League for Weymouth on New Year’s Day 2018.

The teenager’s rise has also seen him named in the two most recent Republic of Ireland senior squads and he could make his international debut during next month’s round of Euro 2020 qualifiers.

With Artur Boruc and Asmir Begovic in the current first-team squad, plus the return of in-form loanee Aaron Ramsdale from AFC Wimbledon, exactly what role Travers will take up next season remains to be seen.

He could have looked towards a loan move, but after grabbing his opportunity between the Cherries sticks with both hands, those plans could rapidly change.

Travers was part of the successful Cherries under-21s side which won the Central League Cup last month, while academy graduate Jack Simpson also played the full 90 minutes against Spurs.

Fellow youngsters Nnamdi Ofoborh, Sam Surridge and Kyle Taylor were all part of a youthful bench on Saturday.

If any of that crop can go on to have the kind of impact Pugh had during his time in Dorset, the future is looking very bright for Cherries.