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First team

Billing & Solanke return Cherries to top spot

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AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

A rampant first-half showing guided AFC Bournemouth a 2-1 win over Luton Town and a ticket back to the Championship summit.

Philip Billing rounded off a fluid Cherries move with a confident volleyed finish, Dominic Solanke doubling the advantage with a classy header after half an hour as the home side took a two-goal lead into the break.

Mark Travers made a key intervention following the restart but couldn't stop Reece Burke from converting inside the six-yard box as action-packed game took a twist heading into the final quarter. 

Despite late half chances at both ends, the hosts saw out their win to claim a fourth straight league win. 

Scott Parker named an unchanged 11 to start the match, the side having dropped from the summit of the Championship after wins for West Brom and Coventry City on Friday evening.

The morning rain at an end but the clouds still showing at kick-off, an even opening saw both sides battling to get onto the front foot.

Lloyd Kelly took the sting out of a low cross allowing Mark Travers to gather, while at the other end Ryan Christie cut inside onto his left foot to shoot, Hatters 'keeper Simon Sluga able to drop down onto it.

In the 14th minute the Cherries received a huge let off when Elijah Adebayo missed the target with the goal at his mercy. Former Bournemouth man Harry Cornick created down the left with his low ball in just needing to be turned home, the striker lofting instead over the bar.

A Travers miscontrol almost handed Adebayo another chance seconds later, the 'keeper recovering quickly to grab the ball.

The hosts were instantaneous in taking advantage of the let off, Billing confidently notching his fourth of the season.

The ball had been worked patiently around the perimeter of the Luton area, Christie supplying the magic with a deft flick over the backline - Billing ready to receive and calmly sidefooting a volley into the bottom corner.

Jaidon Anthony played back and forth a succession of one-twos that was a final ball away from being a goal of the month winner, though the hosts did double the lead shortly afterwards.

Christie was at he heart of things again, floating in a delightful ball from the left wing following a set piece that Solanke leaped to meet, smartly guiding his downward header back across goal and giving Sluga no chance.

Solanke had a low 22-yard shot blocked behind as the Cherries kept up their pressure in the run up to the break.

Next, a Sluga slip presented Jefferson Lerma with a great opportunity but, quickly closed down as he got the ball out of his feet, the Colombian fired wide.

With every forward push a goal looked a real possibility for Bournemouth, Anthony switching onto his right foot but firing just the wrong side of Sluga's near post to conclude the half.

Following the restart, the home defence had to be on its toes to thwart a low cross that nearly picked out a Luton attacker.

Henri Lansbury swung in a free-kick which was inadvertently flicked on by a Cherries head, Travers excelling as the last line of defence to spring to his left and palm the ball away. 

Bournemouth starting to find possession and their stride again, Jordan Zemura dropped the shoulder to turn his man, his cross smothered away, while in defence Lloyd Kelly recovered well to deflect Adebayo's cross to safety.

Anthony nipped away from the full-back to start another slick attack, Christie backheeling to Adam Smith - but the final ball was nicked away ahead of Anthony and what would have been a stunningly-completed team move.

The game then experienced a shift as Luton got back in the game with their first goal. A ball from the right was diverted by Burke with Kelly unable to prevent the close-range shot from going in. 

Hatters substitute Carlos Mendes Gomes fired well over from range with the destination of the points in the balance and both sides looking able to net the game's next goal, Chris Mepham soon introduced by Parker as he looked to solidify his side in the closing stages.

Into the final ten minutes and Town skipper Kal Naismith stretched to keep a dangerous set piece in play and forcing Travers to save and hold on, with the Ireland international did to relieve the pressure.

Zemura zipped a ball across the danger zone but it skipped past everyone, Adebayo heading two yards wide when well placed as Luton retained their threat late on.

Solanke received a standing ovation as he left the field as the clock clicked past 90, the Cherries standing firm to secure their well-earned three points.

AFC Bournemouth: Travers, Smith, Cahill, Kelly, Zemura, Lerma, Pearson, Billing, Christie (Mepham 79'), Anthony (Rogers 73'), Solanke (Lowe 90')

Unused subs: Nyland, Brooks, Marcondes, Stacey

Booked: Pearson, Lowe

Luton Town: Sluga, Bree, Naismith, Cornick (Jerome 75'), Berry (Mendes Gomes 71'), Adebayo, Lockyer Burke, Clark, Lansbury, Osho (Bell 46')

Unused subs: Shea, Bradley, Rea, Pereira

Referee: Tim Robinson

Cherries community draw results:
1st prize - £500 - 054819
2nd prize - £250 - 054825
3rd prize - £130 - 055854
4th prize - AFCB hoodie - 054867

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