Scott Parker dedicated a dominant 2-0 Bournemouth victory at Bristol City to David Brooks as the player starts his battle with cancer.
The Wales and Cherries midfielder was diagnosed with stage two Hodgkin lymphoma during the week and was honoured by a minute’s applause from both sets of fans in the seventh minute.
City supporters even clapped when Jamal Lowe held up Brooks’ number seven shirt after volleying Bournemouth in front from Jack Stacey’s 21st-minute cross.
And after seeing Jordan Zemura settle the outcome of a one-sided game with a thunderous strike from an angle on the stroke of half-time, manager Parker had no doubt about what had inspired his side.
“I know it is a cliche, but that win was for David,” he said. “He is a loved and liked boy in this team and the lads showed exactly what he means to them.
“No matter what colours you wear or who you support, football has a knack of uniting people in difficult moments and the respect Bristol’s fans showed to David was touching.
“It was a superb performance. We were fantastic in every aspect of our game and, with no disrespect to City, should have won by more goals.
“Our team ultimately has a foundation defensively and it is another clean sheet away from home. The whole side looked a solid unit.
“On the flip side of that, you saw a dynamic, aggressive team with huge quality. The only criticism could be that we should have scored more than two.
“From day one when I walked in, these players have been constantly drilled and worked tirelessly.
“They understand the structure and where they need to be on the pitch. I trust every single one of them.
“Jamal Lowe, Jack Stacey and Gavin Kilkenny have come into the team and performed superbly. Gav was immense in midfield and Jamal gets his goal.
“All of them worked for their moment and took their chance when it came.”
Bournemouth squandered countless opportunities against a City side whose hopes of earning a first home win since January were hit when Joe Williams went off with a hamstring problem in the early stages.
Boss Nigel Pearson admitted: “We were outplayed by the best team we have faced this season.
“I have no complaints, even though I think we could have played better ourselves. I also give Bournemouth a lot of credit for that.
“We could have done more to prevent their goals, especially the second one, which came from our set-piece where we had two opportunities to put the ball back in the box.
“On a day when it was always going to be difficult against really good opponents, we gave ourselves a few problems.
“It’s difficult to say how much we were affected by Joe’s early injury, but he has been doing very well for us recently.
“I’m upset for him because he has worked so hard to get back from injury, so it is particularly unfortunate.
“It’s a day when we have been beaten by opponents who were better than us. I know the warriors we have out there and that they give everything.
“We picked up other injuries so now there may be an opportunity for others to come and prove their worth. We will see if they are up to it.
“Our home record is bizarre. But I don’t detect any sense of anxiety among the players.”
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