MANAGER Eddie Howe hailed Cherries’ bravery after watching his men come within 20 minutes of causing an FA Cup upset at Wigan yesterday.

Cherries and the Premier League outfit will both be in the pot for the fourth round draw at 3.30pm this afternoon after the DW Stadium clash finished 1-1.

Eunan O’Kane fired Cherries into a deserved lead in the 41st minute, only for Wigan to hit back on 70 minutes when Jordi Gomez converted a rebound after Shwan Jalal had saved his initial penalty.

Howe said: “I can’t praise the players enough for the performance. We were very brave with the ball and the players passed the ball. We asked them to do it and full credit to them and the goalkeeper for that.

“We had to have a game-plan without the ball because we knew Wigan were a good side in possession and we couldn’t be too open. We soaked up their pressure in terms of their passing but they didn’t create too many chances, which was pleasing.

“When you show the bravery that we did in the style of our play, and how we defended, it was top quality.”

The match was not without controversy as Cherries playmaker Marc Pugh was booked after hitting the deck in the 18-yard box in the first half, with referee Robert Madley ignoring vociferous claims for a penalty.

The Latics were then awarded a spot kick of their own after Simon Francis had been judged to have pulled the shirt of Maynor Figueroa.

Howe said: “He (Pugh) is not the type of player that goes to ground easily so my first impression was it was a penalty. Without seeing it again, I wouldn’t be able to confirm that.

“On their one, again I haven’t seen it again, but I am told that there was, potentially, a little tug in there, so I can see why the referee gave it. I think it was probably a 50-50 call.”

The teams are due to meet for a third round replay at Dean Court in the week commencing January 14.

Howe added: “We will take them back, enjoy the day and, hopefully, our supporters will enjoy seeing a Premier League club coming down.”

Cherries midfielder Richard Hughes required eight stitches after a clash of heads late in yesterday’s third round tie. Howe described the former Pompey man as “absolutely outstanding with and without the ball”.

Meanwhile, Howe confirmed Cherries had received no bid from Blackpool for striker Wes Thomas.

He reported that the Championship outfit had submitted a loan request which did not interest or benefit Cherries.

That came after Blackpool manager Michael Appleton, who has loaned Thomas at both Portsmouth and Blackpool this season, told the BBC he expected further discussions to take place.

Appleton said: “As it is at the minute, he returns to Bournemouth. We’re a little bit frustrated and he’s a little bit frustrated because I am not sure if he will have much involvement at Bournemouth.

“But we are still in the early part of January and I wouldn’t say the door was completely closed on that one at all. A lot of things can happen and I am sure there will be discussions over the next week or so.”

Another Cherries player attracting interest is midfielder Lorenzo Davids, who has been heavily linked with a move to Dutch club Willem II.

Willem’s technical director Marc van Hintum reportedly told Voetbal International: “For us, he would be a perfect reinforcement. We will try to create a new opening for negotiations.”