Ten-man Cherries edged out by Luton
- David Webb
Playing three quarters of the match with ten men, AFC Bournemouth traded punches equally with Luton Town but were eventually undone in the second half and lost 1-0 at Vitality Stadium.
Just past the midway point of the first half Jefferson Lerma was shown a red card for high arm in a aerial duel, though the Cherries still had the better openings of a goalless opening period.
Asmir Begovic made a hat-trick of improbable saves to keep the Hatters at bay at the outset of the second period, though there was later nothing he could do to avert Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall's well-taken strike.
The Cherries pushed until the end to equalise, coming closest when substitute Rodrigo Riquelme had a volley saved, but couldn't find the net and dropped to a home defeat.
A week after his Cherries debut in the Emirates FA Cup, Cameron Carter-Vickers made his league bow from the off against a Hatters club he turned out for on loan last season, while there were also starts for Joshua King in place of the injured Junior Stanislas and Jack Stacey, another player up against his former side.
After the two sides took the knee, the visitors kicked-off in their white and orange change kit, the weather breezy and with a chill in the air in Dorset.
The Cherries had an unexpected early chance when Luke Berry's wayward header back to his 'keeper dropped instead for King, but the Norwegian was unable to make a clean connection with his volley and Simon Sluga gathered.
The Hatters were proving more eager to come out and play then they had in the corresponding fixture at Kenilworth Road less than a month previously, though a cutting move involving Diego Rico and Adam Smith down the left almost sliced through the away backline.
The complexion of the game changed dramatically in the 26th minute when Lerma was given a straight red card after a flailing arm caught Tom Lockyer in the face during an aerial challenge.
Now looking to counter, a Cherries attack resulted in a corner from which first Carter-Vickers headed down and then King forced a good diving save from Sluga at his near post.
Despite their numerical disadvantage it was the home side that continued to look the more likely to break the deadlock before the break, a swift move seeing King and Jack Stacey combine, but the ball was unable to be worked to Dominic Solanke in the centre of the area.
Steve Cook rose for a header in the five minutes of additional time in the first half, but Luton clearing the half ended as it started, goalless.
The Hatters began the second half full of intention and were denied an opener only by three stunning Begovic saves within a minute.
Glen Rea had the first of them, the ball dropping to him at the back post unmarked and leading to a shoulder-height shot that the Bosnian stretched to brilliantly divert away.
From the corner Begovic was down athletically to save from Berry with his leg from close range, the ball clearing only to Dewsbury-Hall on the edge of the area with, though the Cherries 'keeper was up sharply to push this third strike around the post.
Nerves perhaps settled, David Brooks had two quickfire chances of his own at the other end, initially when a corner dropped to him, his shot blocked, the winger then heading over two minutes later when the ball dropped to him 12 yards from target.
Solanke came even closer in the 54th minute, running onto King's pass his sliding finish was textbook but, 'keeper beaten, was cleared off the line by a desperately recovering defender.
The match displaying an openness not seen in the first 45 minutes, former Cherries man Harry Cornick weaved this way and that as he dribbled at pace into the box, but the winger flailed wastefully at his shot and it flew well over the angle.
Stacey intervened in the nick of time to intervene when substitute Kai Naismith was set to pounce, though the Cherries were finally undone in the 67th minute, Dewsbury-Hall collecting 16 yards from goal after Cornick's forward charge and neatly finding the bottom corner with a left-footed effort.
A triple Cherries change introduced Sam Surridge, Philip Billing and Lloyd Kelly, replacing King, Rico and Stacey for the game's final 20 minutes.
Brooks carved out space for himself in the box but was unable to find a team-mate with his pull back, the hosts getting in good attacking positions in search of an undermanned leveller, Riquelme and Jaidon Anthony soon on with Jason Tindall's final two substitutions.
Riquelme was within a whisker of an equaliser, meeting Kelly's cross on the volley and denied only by Sluga's lengthened dive to his left, Anthony close but just unable to make it to the rebound.
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