Nottingham Forest’s recruitment has felt scattergun at the best of times in the last couple of years but Callum Hudson-Odoi’s arrival had a more obvious backstory. Hudson-Odoi worked with Steve Cooper, Nuno Espírito Santo’s predecessor, when England won the Under-17 World Cup in 2017 and so Cooper was influential in luring Hudson-Odoi, once a prodigious talent, to the City Ground.
Cooper may have departed but here Hudson-Odoi displayed some of the rich promise that elevated him into the Chelsea first team as a teenager, his fine strike on the cusp of half-time earning a point at Bournemouth, who ended the game with 10 men after Philip Billing was sent off late on. Billing’s red card, for clipping Hudson-Odoi on the achilles on halfway, seemed harsh. At the final whistle, both teams were left asking questions of the referee, Rebecca Welch, this her second top-flight match in charge.
Forest were among the busier clubs on deadline day and one of their latest arrivals, Matz Sels, was thrust straight into action. Forest moved for Sels to solve their goalkeeping weak spot this season, with Matt Turner relegated to the bench alongside Odysseas Vlachidimos. The safe hands of Keylor Navas and Dean Henderson feel a lifetime ago. In fact, including Wayne Hennessey, the veteran Wales goalkeeper who was among those to embrace Sels as Forest headed down the tunnel at half-time, Forest travelled south with four goalkeepers in their ranks. Five, if you count Nuno, who won the Champions League with Porto under José Mourinho in in 2004.
It would be unfair to pin too much blame on Sels for Bournemouth’s fifth-minute opener but the goalkeeper failed to command his area at a corner. Antoine Semenyo, who was forced off through injury at the interval, occupied Sels and Luis Sinisterra glanced Lewis Cook’s corner goalwards at the front post. Justin Kluivert connected with the ball on the goal-line to earn the lead. Taiwo Awoniyi fluffed a chance to equalise a few minutes later, slipping at the crucial moment and Ryan Yates also failed to truly test Neto in the Bournemouth goal after swivelling inside the box.
Nuno cut a frustrated figure on the sidelines and was booked soon after the hour for asking the referee to book the Bournemouth substitute Alex Scott after he collided with Nicolás Domínguez. By then this game had deteriorated into an attritional contest. Evangelos Marinakis, the Forest owner, looked on from the directors’ box Aside from Hudson-Odoi’s solo strike on the verge of half-time, Forest failed to trouble Neto and the hosts seemed devoid of some of the energy that saw them dominate the opening 20 minutes.
The USA international Giovanni Reyna, signed on loan from Dortmund, arrived for his Forest debut but was unable to affect the game. In the end Hudson-Odoi’s second Forest goal was enough to earn a point. Murillo kept alive a Morgan Gibbs-White free-kick after Neco Williams was fouled on the right flank and then Hudson-Odoi took matters into his own hands. Hudson-Odoi powered past Adam Smith and then used Ilila Zabarnyi as a mannequin, bending a fine right-foot strike low into the bottom corner.