New dad Jamal wets baby's head with late winner
- Tim Robinson
Jamal Lowe wet the baby’s head with a dramatic late winner as AFC Bournemouth claimed a potentially-priceless victory against ten-man Stoke City at Vitality Stadium.
Lowe, whose partner Hollie gave birth to their third child recently, netted in the 89th minute to cap a thrilling comeback from Scott Parker’s promotion hopefuls.
His strike came just six minutes after Dominic Solanke had cancelled out Tommy Smith’s first-half opener for the Potters.
Smith, whose last goal came against the Cherries on the final day of last season, opened the scoring with a rasping drive in the 20th minute.
The Potters were reduced to ten men when defender Morgan Fox received a straight red card for a heavy challenge on Phil Billing after 32 minutes.
Victory saw the Cherries establish a two-point lead in second place, with Parker’s team having four games in hand on third-placed Huddersfield.
Adam Smith made a welcome return to the Cherries starting line-up, the defender one of three changes made by head coach Scott Parker.
Smith was back in the matchday squad for the first time since sustaining a knee injury during the 1-1 draw with Fulham at the start of December.
Chris Mepham and Jamal Lowe were the two other changes from the dramatic 2-1 win at Blackpool a fortnight ago, while Ethan Laird was named on the bench.
Following a cat-and-mouse opening, Todd Cantwell’s free-kick from a promising position was cleared by the Stoke defence.
Nick Powell headed Lewis Baker’s free-kick past the post before Smith’s timely interception prevented the Potters striker going clear on goal.
Although another important tackle saw Mepham stop Jacob Brown in his tracks, there was a nasty sting in the tail for the Cherries.
Following Mepham’s challenge, the ball fell invitingly into the path of Smith who rifled an unstoppable shot from 20 yards past Mark Travers to break the deadlock in the 20th minute.
Travers was then forced to acrobatically tip Brown’s blistering drive over the crossbar after Cantwell had squandered possession.
Powell’s shot from distance was deflected for a corner before Mepham bravely headed clear a dangerous cross from Morgan Fox under pressure from Brown.
The Potters were reduced to ten men when Fox received a straight red card for a challenge on Phil Billing in the 32nd minute.
Referee Tim Robinson immediately reached for his pocket after the defender had lost possession and then sent Billing crashing to the ground with a late tackle.
Cherries fans were convinced Dominic Solanke had levelled in the 35th minute but his effort was ruled out for handball.
As the Cherries went in search of an equaliser, Billing dragged his shot wide of the post following a defence-splitting pass from Cook on the stroke of half-time.
Jack Bonham made a top-drawer save to keep out Cantwell’s header from Smith’s cross at the start of the second half, the Stoke goalkeeper clawing the ball out of the top corner.
Powell nipped in ahead of Billing to clear the danger after Cantwell’s corner had led to a melee before Bonham saved comfortably from the Norwich loan man.
Cantwell’s precision centre picked out Billing in the six-yard box but, after stretching to meet it, his looping header hit the top of the crossbar.
Taylor Harwood-Bellis met Baker’s inswinging free-kick with a bullet header, only to direct it over the crossbar from close range.
Powell appealed in vain for a penalty after he had gone to ground under a Smith challenge before Laird replaced Smith for his Cherries debut.
The hosts’ pressure eventually told when Solanke restored parity with seven minutes remaining, the striker adding his 21st goal of the season.
Solanke was virtually on the line when he stooped to meet Lloyd Kelly’s headed assist from another great set-piece delivery from Cantwell.
Lowe went close to giving the Cherries the lead, his snapshot following a neat turn flashing narrowly wide.
The frontman fired the Cherries in front two minutes from time, rifling home from close range after the Stoke defence had failed to clear Jordan Zemura’s cross.
He almost added a third in injury time, his delicate flicked effort going just past the post before a combination of Kelly and Travers prevented Stoke substitute Josh Maja finding a way through in the dying seconds.
AFC Bournemouth: Travers, A Smith (Laird, 73), Mepham, Kelly, Zemura, Cantwell, Cook (Marcondes, 78), Dembele (Pearson, 89), Billing, Solanke, Lowe.
Unused subs: Stacey, Cahill, Davis, Woodman (g/k).
Booked: Mepham, Lowe, Cook, Kelly.
Stoke City: Bonham, Moore, Jagielka, Harwood-Bellis, T Smith (Fletcher, 90), Allen, Baker, Thompson (Clucas, 75), Fox, Brown (Maja, 80), Powell.
Unused subs: Chester, Campbell, Sawyers, Bursik (g/k).
Booked: Smith, Brown, Thompson.
Sent off: Fox.
Referee: Tim Robinson.
Attendance: 9,613 (including 1,081 away supporters).