If you ask the majority of boys what they want to do when they grow up, most will indulge you in the dreams and ambitions of being a footballer.
The idea of getting to play ‘The Beautiful Game’ for your job is what drives fans at a young age to get involved, to lace up your first pair of boots, and to step out onto the pitch for the first time. Now imagine going to a game, as a fan, and getting invited pitch-side to take photos for the club you’ve been watching for years. That’s what reporter Jamie Bareham experienced on Sunday, at AFC Bournemouth u21’s Premier League Cup clash, where they fell to a 2-0 defeat against a Liverpool side gunning for progression to the next round.
Speaking ahead of the game, manager Shaun Cooper expected a tough fixture against a side who’s first-team are flourishing at the peak of the Premier League:
“Liverpool are a good team. We drew with them in December and I thought it was a deserved point. We’re expecting another tough test.
“All the lads are looking to play in the Premier League, so this is a good opportunity for them to prove themselves in a competitive fixture against quality opposition.”
The Cherries, sitting comfortably at 10th in the league, had already progressed through to the next round of the cup – a 1-1 draw with West Bromwich Albion saw them atop the group with 8 points. Yet despite an exhilarating fixture in similar vain with Liverpool earlier in the year, Bournemouth fell to two goals at opposite ends of either half.
Boasting the likes of Ben Woodburn, the youngest scorer in the club’s history, and Isaac Christie-Davies, a former Chelsea starlet, the Reds opened scoring after three minutes when Glen McAuley lifted the ball into the far corner after a barrage of attack. Bournemouth settled into the game well, with Jaiden Anthony and Sam Surridge looking dangerous on the counter.
The second half opened with Bournemouth looking lively out the gate, 18-year-old Gavin Kilkenny creating opportunities with quick footwork in the number 10 role.
Liverpool however had the finishing blow, when the returning Paul Gatzel fired across the goal to double the deficit.
A disappointing result for the 1800 strong at the Vitality, yet despite conceding two, plenty of positives can be taken away from the fixture – mainly the performance of captain Nnamdi Ofoborh.
The number six battled strongly against starlets Woodburn and McAuley, often shutting down the pair just as world class defenders have during their stints in the Liverpool first team.
Calm and composed at the back, Ofoborh displayed a passing range most midfielders would be envious of, and looked to play from the back, mimicking the style made prominent by Premier League Champions Manchester City.
Previously of London club Tottenham, Ofoborh was released at the age of 14 after joining Spurs at the age of 5. In a feature published in the matchday program, he said:
“I was loving football at the time, then they told me they weren’t offering me a contract at the time and it kind of broke me in half.”
He joined Bournemouth at the age of 16, and after captaining the under 18’s side, had the honour of leading this exciting under 21’s side to top of their group despite returning first team players Tyrone Mings, Mark Pugh and Junior Stanislas.
Speaking on captaining the side, Ofoborh said:
“You’re talking about players who have played against the best players in the world.
“Me training with Junior and playing with Tyrone can only help me confidence wise.”
The Cherries will now wait to see who they face in the next round of the cup, and they’ll be hoping to continue in similar vain to the rest of the season.