Thursday 24 May 2018

Howe defiant over Cherries' shake-up after narrow win

Portsmouth 1 Bournemouth 2

AFC Bournemouth's Shaun MacDonald celebrates after team mate Marc Pugh scores their side's second goal.
AFC Bournemouth's Shaun MacDonald celebrates after team mate Marc Pugh scores their side's second goal.
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe celebrates victory as he applauds fans after the game. Action Images via Reuters / Alex Morton
Joshua King scores the first goal for Bournemouth. Action Images via Reuters / Alex Morton
Bournemouth's Lewis Grabban in action with Portsmouth's Matthew Clarke. Action Images via Reuters / Alex Morton

Nick Purewal

Eddie Howe defended making 10 changes for Bournemouth's edgy FA Cup win at Portsmouth, insisting two match-turning substitutions offset the "risk" of fielding a weakened team.

The arrival of Matt Ritchie and Marc Pugh on the hour and Joshua King's switch through the middle spared Bournemouth's blushes at Fratton Park. King and Pugh found the net to cancel out Gary Roberts' first-half goal for impressive League Two men Portsmouth.

"It's always a risk, you don't know what the outcome's going to be," said Howe when asked if his selection was a gamble. "But I believe that the players, when you look at them individually, are all very good players. They've all done it at a very good level, so I had no hesitation in making the changes.

"We absolutely trust all our players and need to give them chances. It was a very tough game - we expected it and we knew it was going to come. Credit to Portsmouth. They were very good."

Proud Portsmouth boss Cook accepted defeat without issue, only hoping his side had enhanced their reputation."We wanted to make sure that by the end of the day people spoke well about us," he said.

"The reality was it was a good game. We came off second-best and we wish Bournemouth well in the next round. Bournemouth are a quality team. They had strength on the bench and that told.

"The stadium was rocking. It was disappointing not to win and for that we apologise, but I think the supporters still went home with smiles on their faces."

As Bournemouth continue to focus on their Premier League survival bid, Howe insisted a cup run could only help their league concerns. "It's definitely from my point of view a welcome distraction," he added. "We want to go as far as we can. These rounds are difficult but if you can get beyond them you never know."

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