Apr 26, 2014 at 3pm UK at ​Dean Court
Nott'm ForestNottingham Forest
Kermorgant (43', 90'), Grabban (47', 70' pen.)
Cook (88')
FT(HT: 1-0)
Halford (56')
Lascelles (62'), Harding (73')

Preview: Bournemouth vs. Nottingham Forest

Preview: Bournemouth vs. Nottm Forest
© Getty Images
Sports Mole previews Saturday's Championship clash between playoff rivals Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest at Dean Court.

Nottingham Forest's return to form may have come just in time to save their season, but three points away to Bournemouth on Saturday is a must if they are to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Back-to-back victories over Birmingham City and Leeds United have rejuvenated a team that seemed to have surrendered their hopes of a top-six finish following a run of 12 league matches without a win.

Having slipped down to 11th at the nadir of that run, they now find themselves back up to eighth place and just two points behind sixth-placed Reading with two games remaining.

Brighton & Hove Albion are a point better off than Forest in the race for the playoffs, and those two meet in a potentially crucial match at the City Ground on the final day of the season.

Six points from six in the last two games could well put Forest into the top six considering the stuttering form of teams around them in the table, and should they manage that then they would be the form team out of the playoff contenders.

There is still scope, then, for Stuart Pearce to take over a Premier League club next season if Gary Brazil can pull off what would be a remarkable turnaround in fortunes.

Their 2-0 victory over Leeds United at Elland Road on Easter Monday ended a seven-match winless streak on the road, and they will be hoping to rediscover the sort of form that saw them lose just twice on their travels in their opening 15 away games.

Forest's improvement has no doubt been aided by the return to fitness of players such as Kelvin Wilson and Andy Reid, but Chris Cohen and Jack Hobbs are still out, while Henri Lansbury is a doubt.

A win for Forest would have the double benefit for them of knocking Bournemouth out of the race for the playoffs once and for all.

The Cherries made a surprise late charge for the top six with five wins in a row in March and April, but they have now gone three games without a victory and look unlikely to cap an already impressive debut season in the Championship with an appearance in the playoffs.

Four points now separate them from sixth-placed Reading and, considering their inferior goal difference compared to the teams above them, they would need results to very much go their way in the final two matches.

However, a return to winning ways against a playoff rival like Forest could keep their hopes alive going into the final-day showdown with Millwall, who themselves will be fighting against the drop.

Sheffield Wednesday's 4-2 triumph at Dean Court on Friday put them on an exclusive list of Liverpool and Leicester City as teams to have beaten Bournemouth at home since the turn of the year, a run of 12 matches that also includes six victories.

Eddie Howe has the luxury of a fully fit squad to choose from, and he could bring Ian Harte back into the team for this weekend.

Recent form

Bournemouth: WWWDLD

Nottm Forest: DLDLWW

Possible starting lineups

Bournemouth: Camp; Francis, Elphick, Cook, Harte; Pugh, O'Kane, Surman, Ritchie; Kermorgant; Grabban

Nottm Forest: Darlow; Halford, Lascelles, Collins, Harding; McLaughlin, Vaughan; Mackie, Osborn, Paterson; Derbyshire

Sports Mole says: 1-1

Gary Brazil of Nottingham Forest looks on during the Sky bet Championship match between Nottingham Forest and Charlton Athletic at City Ground on March 25, 2014
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