Late flourish keeps Cherries on course for promised land

Brighton & Hove Albion 0 Bournemouth 2

Bournemouth stride on towards the Premier League after extending their lead at the top of the Championship to four points with victory last night at Brighton.

With four matches to play, all against mid-table teams, Eddie Howe’s irresistible attacking force have promotion to the top flight for the first time in their history firmly in their own hands.

The division’s top scorers beat their 68-year-old club scoring record of 104 goals in all competitions in a season with Yann Kermorgant’s opener after 70 minutes, and set a new league record of 89 goals when Callum Wilson rolled in the second.

Brighton, with only one goal in five games, and that scored by an opponent, are still not safe from relegation and with matches against Watford and Middlesbrough in their final two games of the season, will consider the visit of Huddersfield Town on Tuesday a ‘must-win’ encounter.

Around 2,000 supporters – a hefty proportion of Bournemouth’s average home gate of 10,226 – had made the 100-mile journey from Dorset, but they had little to cheer as their team’s usual attacking flair seemed to have deserted them. The best touches were all coming from Joao Teixeira, the Portugal under-21 midfield player on loan at the Amex from Liverpool.

The home side, although missing their suspended captain, Gordon Greer, were in no mood to show respect to the leaders, pressing them all over the pitch.

The visitors’ first shot took 27 minutes to arrive, and David Stockdale had no difficulty in saving Ritchie’s first-time effort after Lewis Dunk’s deflection had taken the sting out of it. But although it heralded a spell of possession for Bournemouth, they seldom threatened.

Top scorer Wilson lost his footing when he had a chance to shoot from an angle, and Ritchie’s shot from Wilson’s pass was booked for row Z the second it left his foot.

Somehow, though, you expected that Bournemouth, who had three players on the pitch with 10 league goals or more, would find a way to score and Brighton would not – Teixeira is their top scorer with a meagre six.

Sure enough, Bournemouth made their first opening of the second half count, Kermorgant curling home a  22-yard free-kick after  substitute Adam Smith had been brought down by Dunk.

Ten minutes later, Kermorgant played the ball forward for Wilson to beat Greg Halford twice before shooting low past David Stockdale.

Brighton (4-2-3-1): Stockdale; Bruno, Halford, Dunk, Bennett; Kayal (Ince, 67), Stephens; Calderon, Teixeira (Mackail-Smith, 74), Carayol (LuaLua, 74); Best. Substitutes not used Walton, Hughes, O’Grady, Forster-Caskey.

Bournemouth (4-4-1-1): Boruc; Francis, Cook, Elphick, Daniels; Ritchie, Surman, Arter, Pugh (Smith, 64); Kermorgant (Gosling, 83); Wilson (Jones, 89). Substitutes not used Camp, Pitman, Stanislas, Ward.

Referee C Pawson (S Yorks).