A last gasp goal by George Bowerman gave Walsall a victory at the Goldsands Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Charlie Daniels 80th minute equaliser seemed to hand Paul Groves’ men a point but Bowerman netted one minute before time earned all three points to the visitors.
Lorenzo Davids, Frank Demouge and former-England goalkeeper David James all made debuts as Groves made six changes to the eleven that started against Swindon Town.
Bournemouth’s played with confidence in the first ten minutes but it was Walsall who could have had the first meaningful opportunity. Thankfully for the home side, referee Tony Bates deemed Miles Addison’s
apparent trip on Walsall striker Bowerman lawful and denied the visitors an early penalty.
James’ first real duty for the Cherries was to stop Jamie Paterson’s 25-yard curling shot. The 42-year-old comfortably dealt with the midfielder’s effort from range.
Following a number of attacking threats, Bournemouth’s first significant chance came when Eunan O’Kane dragged his left-footed shot wide. Demouge intercepted the ball just inside the final third and played it through to the Irishman who was unable to test Saddlers’ stopper Karl Darlow.
It was Walsall who took the lead five minutes before half-time with Andy Butler’s bullet header giving James’ no chance. Ben Purkiss’ cross found the Saddlers’ skipper unmarked amongst a host of bodies and his near-post header prompted ‘Gangnam Style’ celebrations from him and his Walsall teammates.
After an uneventful first 45 minutes, Groves’ men came out after half-time looking positive and had the first chance as O’Kane saw his low driven effort scrambled clear by the feet of Darlow.
Down the other end, Stephane Zubar made a superb sliding challenge to deny Paterson a goal-scoring opportunity as he was played through one-on-one. The defender collided with an advancing James but managed to stick in a high-leg to claw away the ball.
Butler had a chance to double the visitors lead after 70 minutes when he was again found free in the box but the centre-back headed far over the crossbar.
Lee Barnard and Josh Carmichael had successive chances that could have given Bournemouth a way back into the game.
Charlie Daniels cross was controlled by Barnard who turned on the ball but saw his shot blocked by Butler. The subsequent clearance landed at the feet of substitute Carmichael but the youngster was unable to find the target.
Bournemouth equalised with ten minutes remaining when Daniels pounced on a loose ball in the penalty area. A long throw by Cook wasn’t dealt with by the visitor’s defence and Daniels picked it up to bury the ball right down the middle of the goal from close range.
Matt Tubbs replaced O’Kane in the latter stages of the game as Bournemouth pushed for the winner but Bowerman’s volley earned Walsall all three points. He struck in the 89th minute as a corner bounced to the feet of Bowerman who piled it in the net.
Four minutes of added time saw Wes Fogden come agonisingly close to levelling the scores, but his powerful effort was blocked by the goalkeeper. The rebound was inventively bicycle-kicked by Demouge, but he found his attempt falling inches wide.