by Jonathan Nagioff (@JonathanNagioff)
AFC Bournemouth picked up only their second victory of the Premier League season, sealing a narrow 2-1 win away at Stoke City.
The Cherries ended their barren spell of three league games without a win, with first half goals from Andrew Surman and Junior Stanislas proving enough for Eddie Howe’s men to claim a pivotal three points.
The significance of the match was evident before kick-off, with both sides nearing the foot of the table, but it was Bournemouth who made the stronger start and found themselves 2-0 up within 18 minutes.
Midfielder Surman opened the scoring after a sublime passage of play from the away team. Adam Smith burst down the right side, through the onslaught of wind and rain, and fed through Junior Stanislas inside the area. The winger delightfully set up Surman, who drilled home a low effort past the despairing dive of Jack Butland.
The Cherries doubled their lead just two minutes later when Benik Afobe was brought down by Ryan Shawcross in the penalty area. Stanislas stepped up to comfortably convert from the spot, and handed his side a much-needed cushion.
Bournemouth could have made their lead even more comfortable just before the interval. Jordon Ibe hammered a shot towards goal, but as it took a wicked deflection off Ryan Shawcross, Stoke keeper Butland was forced into a spectacular stop to keep his team in the contest.
Just a minute later, however, Stoke had a chance to pull a goal back. Erik Pieters whipped in a dangerous delivery into the Cherries’ penalty area, and found the head of Eric Choupo Moting. The striker leapt highest, but could only flick his head wide of the target with Asmir Begovic well beaten.
The Potters, who were put to the sword by Manchester City last week in a 7-2 demolition, came out of the interval flying.
Former Manchester United striker, Mame Biram Diouf, reduced the deficit on 63 minutes poking home past Begovic with his thigh, after a knockdown from Choupo-Moting.
The home side continued to press for the equaliser throughout the second half, but Bournemouth’s backline were able to scramble the ball away time and time again, with Nathan Ake’s performance proving to be a particular highlight for Eddie Howe.
A defeat at the bet365 stadium would have equalled the worst start to a league campaign for AFC Bournemouth, but Howe’s men were keen to ensure a first away Premier League win and defended resiliently in the final half hour to see the game out and secure a vital three points.
The victory does not change Bournemouth’s position in the table, as the Cherries still remain in 19th place. But the result has tightened the battle at the bottom, with Stoke now dragged down into the relegation zone in 18th place.
The Cherries are one point behind their opponents on 7 points and, more importantly, only a point behind West Ham United in 17th, who were soundly beaten 3-0 by Brighton on Friday night.
Next up for AFC Bournemouth is a Carabao Cup tie at home to Middlesbrough on Tuesday night.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Junior Stanislas (Bournemouth)
Stoke: Butland, Johnson, Shawcross, Zouma, Pieters, Allen, Cameron, Fletcher, Jese, Choupo-Moting, Diouf
Subs: Grant, Wimmer, Berahino, Afellay, Adam, Crouch, Sobhi
Bournemouth: Begovic, Smith, Francis, Ake, Daniels, Ibe, L. Cook, Surman, Stanislas, Mousset, Afobe
Subs: Boruc, S. Cook, Gosling, Pugh, Arter, Wilson, Fraser
Referee: Lee Probert