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17:02 1st January 2011

Report: Town 1 AFC Bournemouth 2

Town went down to a disappointing defeat at home to AFC Bournemouth after a late Jason Pearce volley sealed a 2-1 victory for Eddie Howe's side.

It was the visitors who started the stronger, and they might have gone in front after four minutes as Marc Pugh took advantage of some hesitancy in the Town defence and took a snap shot which passed inches wide of the near post.

The Cherries went close again minutes later as Jason Pearce volleyed a Steve Fletcher back header towards goal, but Phil Smith reacted sharply to tip it around the post.

And it came as no surprise when the visitors took the lead after 12 minutes, as Marc Pugh tapped home from a yard out after seeing his penalty saved by Phil Smith.

Town had had a right to feel aggrieved when referee Gibbs had punished Charlie Austin for handling in the area after Smith had punched a long throw into his arm, but they could not argue that they deserved to be behind after a slow start.

Matt Ritchie celebrates

However, Town reacted well to going behind, and were back on terms within ten minutes through Matt Ritchie.

David Ball had turned well on the right and volleyed a dangerous cross into the area which the onrushing Portsmouth loanee met first time, side-footing the ball into the top corner past the helpless Cherries 'keeper Shwan Jalal.

After a brief rally from the visitors, Town began to enjoy the best of the game, but despite forcing a number of corners they failed to seriously test Jalal.

In fact it was the visitors who went closest to grabbing the game's third goal, Steve Fletcher heading a Rhoys Wiggins cross just wide of the post after 40 minutes, but the sides went in level.

The first ten minutes of the second half passed largely without incident before tow off the ball clashes saw it flare up.

David Ball

Firstly, Charlie Austin went down clutching his face after a clash with Shaun Cooper, before Alan Sheehan tangled with Lyle Taylor in the corner and after a lengthy confrontation involving players from both sides, the Irishman was booked.

Town then created the first chance of the half, as Paul Caddis crossed low for substitute Vincent Pericard, whose first time shot was well saved by Jalal at the near post.

It had become a tight, niggly affair with referee Gibbs contributing towards the match's disjointed nature, and Pericard's looked like being the only chance either side would have of taking the lead.

However, the Cherries found themselves back in front on 80 minutes, as skipper Jason Pearce reacted first to a long throw from Liam Feeney and hooked the ball brilliantly over Smith and into the far corner.

Town pushed forward in search of an equaliser and might have had one had Andy Frampton been able to poke home Charlie Austin's header, but it was just out of reach, and Eddie Howe's side stood firm to take the points.

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    Data provided by Press Association