Football News

Nat Phillips: Liverpool’s forgotten cult hero holds firm against Forest to secure Bournemouth promotion

By Ben Green

Published: 21:00, 3 May 2022

Bournemouth have secured passage to the Premier League once again after winning their proverbial six-pointer against Nottingham Forest in the Championship on Tuesday night.

Scott Parker’s Cherries had long been in the running for promotion with champions Fulham and at the Vitality Stadium tonight, the South Coast club regained entry to the Promised Land, confirming second in the Championship.

It was an electric contest between Bournemouth and their fellow promotion hopefuls, but a second-half masterclass from the hosts ruthlessly put Forest to the sword and ensured the travelling Midlanders will now try their luck in the lottery of the play-offs.

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In fairness to Steve Cooper, it’s not a position Forest were expecting to find themselves in at the start of the campaign, going winless in their opening seven matches, which culminated in the eventual dismissal of Chris Hughton, but this result would have stung nonetheless.

It was a delicately-poised opening 45 minutes as Forest knocked on the door through former Bournemouth man Sam Surridge, but the second stanza was one-way traffic as the hosts turned the screw and duly collected three points after some heavy pressure on Brice Samba’s net.

The opener eventually came through substitute Kieffer Moore, a tactical masterclass from Parker, but credit needs to go the former midfield metronome’s defence, with Liverpool loanee Nat Phillips producing a sturdy performance on a night where his parent club struggled to do so themselves.

As Jurgen Klopp’s men found themselves exposed at the Madrigal against Villarreal in the first half of their Champions League semi-final second leg, Phillips was simultaneously holding firm on the South Coast of England.

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A no-nonsense, throwback defender, Phillips garnered a reputation for his aerial prowess during his firefighting at Anfield when Klopp was plagued with a centre-back injury crisis last campaign, and tonight he lived up to that status.

The 25-year-old finished the match having won the second-most aerial duels of any player on the pitch (four) and boasted a 100% aerial duel success rate. Coincidentally, Liverpool conceded a headed goal in their game to Villarreal from 5ft 9in Francis Coquelin of all players.

But, tonight Phillips’ sole focus will be on promotion with Bournemouth and a return to the English top-flight for the Cherries.