THERE will be no FA Cup magic sprinkled on the Pirelli Stadium this season after Bournemouth ended Burton Albion’s hope of a glamorous and potentially money-spinning visit of Liverpool.
In an entertaining wind and rain-swept game on the south coast, the hosts eventually claimed a comfortable victory.
Bournemouth dominated throughout, but were held to 2-1 until the final five minutes.
Those two late goals did not exactly flatter the Cherries, but Albion will feel disheartened at the final scoreline having battled gamely all match and attacked vigorously when given the opportunity.
They fell behind within five minutes to Brett Pitman’s opener, but fashioned a fortunate equaliser when Jimmy Phillips’ shot took a wicked deflection to beat Ryan Allsopp.
However, Bournemouth recovered their lead on the stroke of half-time through Ryan Elphick, before adding late gloss to their win with a goal for substitute Ryan Fraser and a second for Pitman, this one from the penalty spot.
It was a tough night for Burton, but they never shied away from the battle and showed admirable attacking intent.
Sadly, so did their hosts, and coupled it with significant flair, especially down their left flank – and Albion were unable to quell that threat.
Gary Rowett took a small step towards conservatism with his team selection, principally in the shape of defensive-minded skipper Lee Bell ahead of the more energetic Robbie Weir in the centre of the park.
Weir, who has been largely faultless since his brief axing from the team earlier in the season, had run himself into the ground in the previous two games, and it was not an unexpected change.
Slightly more surprising was the inclusion of new loan signing Adam Buxton, ostensibly brought in as cover in defence, on the right of midfield.
The 21-year-old was borrowed from Wigan Athletic – the current FA Cup holders – prior to the postponed tie, and made his debut in place of Alex MacDonald.
Dominic Knowles, the hero last weekend with a brace to snatch a 2-1 victory from the jaws of a 1-0 defeat at home to Cheltenham Town, was restricted to the bench, while Zeli Ismail was ineligible.
Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe made five changes to the team which lost to Wigan in the league on Saturday, one of them enforced as ex-Brewers and Derby County keeper Lee Camp was not signed in time for the original encounter and so was unavailable to face his former club.
Nerves showed early on as a Zander Diamond slip let in Matt Ritchie for a shot that was blocked, before Marc Pugh fired wide as Albion failed to clear.
Just five minutes in, those frailties were cruelly exposed as the visitors found themselves outnumbered on their right flank, from where Tokelo Rantie crossed to the far post and found Pitman, who slotted home a low, powerful shot.
Albion could have done better, with Phil Edwards and Buxton caught too high up the pitch, while the marking at the back stick was also found wanting.
A few potshots followed as the Cherries sought to capitalise on their opponents’ defensive shakiness, while Charlie Daniels’ header was only marginally off target.
Just before that, Albion had a great chance to level with their first foray forward, as Billy Kee played in a marauding Buxton who, one-on-one with Ryan Allsopp, was denied by the keepers’ legs.
Kee also set up Albion’s second chance, knocking the ball out wide for Phillips, who drove wide of the target.
A delightful passing move then almost – and probably should have – brought Bournemouth their second.
Pugh, Rantie and Pitman combined to work the ball into the box, but Daniels’ final touch skewed it wide of Dean Lyness’ goal.
The inclusion of Buxton on the right wing was presumably to provide Edwards with more protection, but neither player was able to halt the progress of the lively Daniels and Pugh.
Rantie, after firing wide, then worked a shooting chance on the edge of the area, and forced a smart diving save from Lyness, but the South African international – Bournemouth’s record signing – was causing Albion no end of problems.
However, just when it looked like the Cherries would saunter to victory, they found themselves pegged back.
Albion had not seen much of the ball, but when they did, they attacked at pace, and one such forward advance saw the Cherries only able to clear as far as Bell, who played a simple ball to Phillips 25 yards out.
The popular winger does not score many, but grabbed his second of the season with a huge deflection off a Cherries defender that deceived Allsopp.
Bournemouth brushed themselves down and were immediately back on the offensive, as Daniels got past Edwards and Buxton again and squared for Pitman, whose sidefoot shot was turned behind by Lyness.
Lyness also had to be alert to turn Daniels’ shot behind moments later, but from the resultant corner, they fell behind again.
With the rain swirling around Dean Court now, getting to half-time level would have given Albion the chance to dry out, regroup and rethink their tactics, but they failed to deal with the flag-kick, and skipper Elphick nestled a low shot into the far corner.
Bournemouth did not let up at the start of the second-half, the first threat coming down their less used right wing, as Simon Francis’ cross was thumped against the post by Pitman.
After Phillips had fired well off target, Albion earned their first corner of the game, but wasted it and Bournemouth broke, with Lyness having to palm Pitman’s shot away after the striker was fed by Rantie.
After surviving 15 minutes of incessant attack Albion rallied to an extent, with McGurk and McCrory both firing dangerous crosses in from the left that only just failed to find their intended target.
They had also brought on MacDonald for the disappointing Buxton who, though thrown in at the deep end somewhat, showed little promise.
Rowett rolled the dice again by bringing on Chris Hussey for Bell, and then Knowles for Kee, but the hosts’ constant streams of attack did not leave much room for Albion to respond.
While there was still just one goal in it Albion always had a chance, but as they pushed for a second equaliser, Bournemouth broke and hooked a pass out wide to substitute Ryan Fraser, who advanced upon Lyness before neatly dinking the ball over the Albion keeper.
And minutes later, they made the game safe as Edwards’ desperate lunge on Arter gave the referee little choice but to point to the spot, and Pitman blasted the penalty home.