AFC Bournemouth secured their first win of the Premier League season coming back from a goal down thanks to an inspired performance from substitute Jordon Ibe.
The £15 million winger replaced Ryan Fraser in the 65th minute and just moments later combined with Andrew Surman to put the home side level after Solly March had put the visitors 1-0 up 12 minutes prior. Within six minutes the Cherries had completed the turn around as Ibe provided another assist, playing in Jermain Defoe who slotted home his first goal back in Bournemouth colours to seal the Dorset club’s first points of the 2017/18 Premier League season.
This was the 105th meeting between the two clubs and the Cherries were unbeaten in their last six meetings against their South Coast rivals. The last time the two sides met was back in the 2014/15 season in the Championship, where Eddie Howe’s men came out on top 2-0 at the AMEX.
Howe made three changes from the side which lost 3-0 at Arsenal last weekend, bringing in Surman, Simon Francis and Marc Pugh to replace Steve Cook, Tyrone Mings and Dan Gosling. Meanwhile, Chris Hughton made just one change from the Brighton line-up which secured their first Premier League win last Saturday over West Bromwich Albion 3-1, with Liam Rosenior replacing Bruno.
The Cherries started the game full of intent and pressed Brighton high up the pitch but did not force Mathew Ryan into a save for the opening 10 minutes of the game. Brighton had the first notable effort on goal after a slip from Charlie Daniels allowed Anthony Knockaert to charge at the Bournemouth backline. The Championship Player of the Season for 2016/17 looked lively throughout the first half as his strike from the edge of the area fizzed just wide of the post.
With quarter of an hour played, a wayward attempted square pass across the backline from Rosenior was intercepted by Joshua King, but the Norwegian striker’s effort was blocked on the edge of the area.
Two chances then followed in quick succession for Howe’s side, with Pugh curling the ball just high and wide of the near post before Daniels’ speculative effort only found Ryan’s gloves.
Brighton created precious little chances in their first trip to the Vitality Stadium in two and a half years in the first 45 minutes, with their only other notable effort coming from Davy Propper. His attempted chip over Asmir Begovic’s head went narrowly over the bar, landing on the top netting of the goal.
Defoe had the home side’s best chance when turning the Brighton defender and curling his low curling strike fractionally wide of the post.
Brighton came out in the second half flying out of the blocks and came very close to taking the lead through two well worked corners. Shane Duffy’s header from the first corner was cleared off the line by Surman, but the danger did not pass for long. Duffy climbed above the defence once again and headed the ball across the goal, allowing Dale Stephens to make contact and send the shot goal bound. He was only to be denied by Begovic pulling off a reaction save to parry the ball onto the underside of the bar to keep the scores level.
The home side were punished 10 minutes into the second half after last week’s hero for the Seagulls Pascal Gross whipped in a great cross to pick out March, whose header back across goal put Hughton’s side deservedly in front.
As previously mentioned, Ibe’s introduction turned the game in the Cherries favour and his clever back heel to find Surman provided the spark which Howe’s men needed to bring them to life. Once receiving that pass Surman cooly slotted passed Ryan, much to the previously anxious home fans delight.
Another excellent through ball from Ibe found Defoe, who turned and finished smartly across goal past the keeper to get the crowd at the Vitality Stadium rocking as the side completed the turnaround to lead 2-1.
Brighton pressed and tried to find the equaliser, which they may well have merited on the overall balance of play, but were unable to breakdown a stubborn Cherries backline. The full time whistle was met with relief and joy from the crowd and the result marks a turning point in the club’s fortunes so far early in the 2017/18 season.
These two sides will meet again on Tuesday night at the Vitality Stadium in the third round of the Carabao Cup.