Cherries leapfrogged after Cardiff loss
- Gavin Ward
Two first half goals saw AFC Bournemouth lose 2-1 at home to play-off rivals Cardiff City, the visitors swapping places with the hosts on Wednesday evening.
The Bluebirds hit the front just ahead of the half hour mark when Sean Morrison headed in from a corner, Kieffer Moore adding a second from the penalty spot following a foul in the area by Diego Rico.
Shane Long gave the Cherries a lifeline when he scored from close range, though despite sustained forwards momentum the home side were unable to grab an equaliser.
Captain Steve Cook was a welcome returnee to the starting 11 for Jonathan Woodgate, the defender overcoming an adductor injury, Sam Surridge starting up front as the Cherries got set to kick-off against the in-form Bluebirds.
Junior Stanislas got the game under way on a mild February evening with sharp bursts of colder wind circulating around Vitality Stadium.
A foul on Lewis Cook gave the hosts an early opportunity to deliver into the box, Stanislas looking to catch 'keeper Dillion Phillips out with a shot instead of a centre, though the Cardiff number one was equal to it and pushed the ball away.
Full-back Rico was soon delivering a wicked set piece in from the other flank, Jefferson Lerma there to meet the ball but his header flying over.
The game competitive, Philip Billing and Curtis Nelson were shown a yellow yard each after an altercation, with Cardiff soon taking the advantage with the game's opening goal.
Rico had headed behind to concede a corner, the ball soon coming back into the danger zone centrally with centre-back Morrison able to get in front of his man to glance a header home.
Asmir Begovic soon needed to stand up tall to parry away a shot from an angle from striker Moore, the Bosnian soon needed again to save with his legs from another Moore effort, this one from close range.
Cardiff were given the chance to score a second when Rico felled Perry Ng in the area, Moore making no mistake from 12 yards as he blasted into the top corner to double the visiting advantage.
Surridge looked certain to halve the deficit as his run into the six-yard box was picked out by Rico's cross, the striker connected but was foiled by the trailing leg of Phillips on his goal line.
The Cherries had five minutes of sustained pressure heading into half time but, despite getting into promising positions, were unable to get the crucial foothold in the game a goal would have given them.
Woodgate made a double change ahead of the start of the second period, Arnaut Danjuma and Long introduced with Rico and Lewis Cook making way.
Bournemouth were repeatedly spearing into the final third, but unable to produce the precise final pass to unlock the solid City backline.
An incisive surge from Adam Smith led to the full-back squaring low for Stanislas, the attacker controlling ten yards from the target and poking in a shot towards the near post that was kept out brilliantly by the left hand of Phillips.
Within a minute Stanislas was threatening again, this time swerving in a trademark free-kick from 25 yards that Phillips tipped over his own bar; from the corner Steve Cook heading wide at the near post.
The Cherries breathed life into their comeback midway through the half, Long scoring his second goal inside four days.
Stanislas was the creator, driving at the City defence before playing to the left for Danjuma. The Dutchman looking to fire in a low shot, his effort deflecting up off a sliding Cardiff defender and down onto the head of loanee Long, who headed home from close range.
The latest set piece from Stanislas was again a worrier for the Bluebirds, this time the Cherries man's 30-yard dipper rustling the top of the netting though not the back of it.
The scoreboard clock ticking over into the final ten minutes, Stanislas and Danjuma combined again with the latter poking a shot goalwards that Phillips got his body behind to save.
Lerma had a shot charged down, the Cherries desperately pushed forwards as the fourth official signaled for four additional minutes at the end of the 90.
However, the hosts couldn't carve out the golden chance they needed, the final whistle sounding with the Bluebirds snatching the Cherries' top-six place, for the time being at least.