Two long range strikes from Jordon Ibe and Junior Stanislas allowed AFC Bournemouth to come from behind to steal all three points against West Bromwich Albion at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday.
The Cherries found themselves behind just after the break, Kieran Gibbs‘ cross being knocked back by Salomon Rondon to Jay Rodriguez, who controlled and turned it goalwards neatly.
Ibe struck back on 77 minutes, his long range shot bouncing nastily in front of Ben Foster, but the former England international will look back at it thinking he should have done better.
Bournemouth continued to press for the three points, and it was Stanislas who got the goal with a fine free-kick nestling in the corner.
West Brom went centimetres close to getting an equaliser in the 8th minute of stoppage time, Charlie Daniels clearing off the line from substitute Matt Phillips.
The Baggies will feel hard done by – for 75 minutes they looked pretty comfortable and arguably the better team.
The win moves Eddie Howe’s side up to 10th thanks to many of the teams around them having not played today. For West Brom, it’s their seventh straight defeat which leaves them ten points off safety having played one game more than two of the teams above them.
PRESSURE ON PARDEW
Reflecting after the game, Alan Pardew came out fighting, saying: “When you’re losing it makes it more and more difficult. I’ve got a contract here for three years, and we’ve got to keep fighting. That’s what I’m going to do.”
Howe applauded that his team got the three points in the end, saying: “They’re a very experienced team, we knew how tough it was going to be, we had to find a way to win and we did without playing well.”
The game had a lively start, with Chris Brunt testing the Cherries defence early on and Ibe making a clever flick that required good defending from Jonny Evans.
It soon quietened down with West Brom defending resolutely and breaking when they could. Bournemouth struggled to get in behind and their wingers, Ibe and Stanislas, seemed unwilling to go around the wing backs often.
Allan Nyom showed off his pace and strength on a number of occasions, putting some dangerous crosses in the box, but ultimately West Brom couldn’t find the back of Asmir Begovic‘s net.
Both teams thought they should have had penalties in the first half; Josh King going down for Bournemouth in the box, and Nathan Ake putting in a strong challenge, but he appeared to get the ball. Referee Graham Scott was unmoved for both, despite pressure from both sets of fans who believed their team should be getting a spot kick.
Bournemouth didn’t test Foster for the first time this afternoon until just minutes before the break, Stanislas’ free kick from 20 yards out forcing a decent save low down to the keeper’s right.
BOURNEMOUTH SLUGGISH OUT OF THE BLOCKS
West Brom started the second half even quicker than they did in the first, Rondon setting up Rodriguez for his fifth goal of the season just four minutes after the break.
After going behind, Bournemouth started to control the ball more and West Brom were happy to see them have it in front of them, but they still couldn’t break down the back five that had denied Bournemouth of any serious goal-scoring opportunities.
The next time that Bournemouth went close was from another Stanislas free-kick, this one narrowly going over the bar and landing on the roof of the net.
THE SUBSTITUTION THAT CHANGED THE GAME
It was in the 76th minute that the defining moment of the match occurred; West Brom, leading and set for their first points since mid-January, took off centre-back Evans for midfielder Matt Phillips, switching to four at the back.
Pardew later confirmed that the Northern Irishman was suffering from fatigue after he missed last week’s defeat to Leicester whilst ill.
Just one minute later, whilst still getting used to the change in formation, Ibe ran at Phillips, who let him cut inside and shoot, catching out Foster.
The wind was now in the Cherries’ sails, and Bournemouth looked extremely dangerous as the game drew towards its finale.
THIRD TIME LUCKY FOR STANISLAS
Substitute Jermain Defoe charged down Ahmed Hegazi who was caught in possession on the half-way line, and King ran at the Baggies’ defence before being brought down by Craig Dawson just outside the area. Stanislas stepped up and, having had two previous free-kicks saved from a similar position, made no mistake with the third, sending it past Foster into the side of the net in the 89th minute.
The game wasn’t over though. With the last attack of the game, Gibbs ran past multiple Bournemouth players before lifting it back to the six yard box, where Phillips was lurking to head it goalbound. Daniels was in the right place at the right time to get it away for the Cherries, and secure their first win in five games.
After the winning goal, the 1,150 travelling West Brom fans were chanting for Pardew to be sacked; this now their seventh defeat in a row. Since the start of the season, Albion have dropped 24 points from winning positions.
Eddie Howe was pleased with his team’s performance: “We don’t want to do it like that, it was the hardest way, but I’ll take any way at this stage of the season.
“We needed the energy of the crowd, [Ibe’s goal] was the turning point of the match.”
An understandably deflated Alan Pardew was disappointed with the result: “I think that there’s certain areas of the team that will make mistakes and get punished. Today was particularly harsh.
“I was pleased with almost every individual really. We were certainly unlucky today.”
Next up for AFC Bournemouth is a trip to Watford after the international break, whilst Pardew must pick his team up ahead of a crucial tie with Burnley on Easter Saturday.