Dembele illuminates Blackpool with dramatic Cherries winner
- Dean Whitestone
New signing Siriki Dembele grabbed a dramatic injury-time winner as AFC Bournemouth fought back from a goal down to triumph 2-1 at Blackpool on Saturday.
Dembele capped a memorable full debut for the Cherries by squeezing a low shot past Blackpool goalkeeper Dan Grimshaw in the fifth minute of added time.
His finely-executed strike completed a remarkable turnaround from Scott Parker’s team, the Cherries trailing to Josh Bowler’s first-half goal with just four minutes remaining at Bloomfield Road.
Jamal Lowe came off the bench to restore parity when he scored from close range after Todd Cantwell’s deflected cross had found him on the edge of the six-yard box.
A third successive victory owed much to the exploits of goalkeeper Mark Travers who made a string of fine saves, including a world class stop to keep out a Gary Madine header in the second half.
Dominic Solanke’s first-half penalty miss looked like it would prove costly until Parker’s troops drew on their powers of recovery to claim a victory which took them five points clear in second place.
Dembele was handed his full league debut as head coach Parker made two changes following the midweek win over Birmingham City.
The former Peterborough winger, who impressed after coming off the bench against the Blues, replaced the injured Ryan Christie, while Lewis Cook came in for Jefferson Lerma who was suspended.
Blackpool goalkeeper Daniel Grimshaw was forced into an early save after Dembele had mounted a sweeping counter-attack in the third minute.
Dembele’s precision pass set Dominic Solanke scampering clear but his fiercely-struck effort was parried at his near post by Grimshaw.
Grimshaw then had to race off his line to hack away Seasiders skipper Marvin Ekpiteta’s wayward backpass as Solanke looked to pounce.
Mark Travers saved comfortably from CJ Hamilton after the midfielder had taken aim having been slipped in by Josh Bowler.
Referee Dean Whitestone immediately pointed to the penalty spot after Jordan Lawrence-Gabriel had shoved Jaidon Anthony to the ground midway through the first half.
But Solanke’s attempt to bring up his 20th league goal of the season was thwarted when Grimshaw dived to his left to keep out the striker’s tame spot-kick.
As Blackpool looked to capitalise on Solanke’s miss, Hamilton’s shot from the edge of the box flew over the crossbar.
Blackpool profited from a fortunate ricochet to take the lead through Bowler’s stunning effort eight minutes before half-time.
A move down the left involving Hamilton and Callum Connolly eventually saw the ball strike Anthony and fall invitingly for Bowler on the edge of the box.
And the former Everton man gave Travers no chance whatsoever when he unleashed an unstoppable left-footed shot into the top corner.
Bowler was denied a second goal on the stroke of half-time when Travers got down smartly to push away his thumping drive, the Cherries goalkeeper getting a firm hand to the ball to keep it away from an onrushing Yates.
Grimshaw got behind Phil Billing’s speculative strike at the start of the second half before Bowler’s dangerous centre flashed across the face of the goalmouth.
The Cherries had a second penalty appeal waved away after Anthony had gone to ground before Billing lifted his effort over the crossbar following excellent build-up play from Dembele.
Travers made another top-drawer save to keep it at 1-0, the Cherries goalkeeper clawing Bowler’s shot out of the top corner from Gary Madine’s layoff in the 53rd minute.
The Cherries had an escape when Hamilton’s thunderous drive rattled the crossbar before Todd Cantwell drew a fine save from Grimshaw, with Dembele again the creator.
Heroic blocks at either end saw Anthony throw himself in front of Hamilton’s shot before Oliver Casey did likewise to keep out Jordan Zemura’s effort.
Travers somehow managed to prevent Madine from doubling Blackpool’s lead, the Irishman blocking his header from point-blank range following Connolly’s 80th-minute corner.
Lowe grabbed a dramatic leveller four minutes from time when he prodded the ball past Grimshaw from close range after meeting Cantwell’s deflected cross.
Grimshaw saved Cantwell's 25-yarder in stoppage time before Dembele had the final say when he squeezed his shot inside the near post following a Emi Marcondes assist with virtually the last kick of the game.
AFC Bournemouth: Travers, Stacey (Lowe, 70), Phillips, Kelly, Zemura (Davis, 84), Cantwell, Cook, Dembele, Billing (Marcondes, 78), Solanke, Anthony.
Unused subs: Mepham, Hill, Pearson, Woodman (g/k).
Blackpool: Grimshaw, Stering, Ekpiteta (Casey, 61), Thorniley, Connolly, Bowler, Stewart, Lawrence-Gabriel, Hamilton, Madine, Yates (Lavery, 73).
Unused subs: James, Dale, Dougall, Beesley, Moore (g/k).
Booked: Sterling, Connolly.
Referee: Dean Whitestone.