CHERRIES’ valiant attempt to take Wigan to extra-time may have bitten the dust but Eddie Howe’s heroes emerged from this third round replay with great credit.
A goal from Mauro Boselli after 18 minutes earned the Premier League strugglers victory and saw Cherries bow out, although it failed to tell the whole story.
Argentinean international Boselli, unearthed by Wigan chief scout and former Cherries striker Kevin Reeves, finished clinically after seizing on a misplaced pass from Harry Arter.
The £6million signing from Estudiantes earned the Latics a trip to Macclesfield and prevented Cherries from claiming only their fourth top-flight scalp in the competition.
However, but for the woodwork and a more eagle-eyed official, Cherries would have at least taken the tie into overtime, if not prevailed over the 90 minutes.
Both Eunan O’Kane and Marc Pugh struck the timber, while Latics goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi also made a couple of important saves to thwart Cherries.
And the last incident of an absorbing tie saw Cherries defender Charlie Daniels sent sprawling by a blatant shove, with referee Jon Moss, who can only have missed the push, turning down their appeals for a penalty.
Striker Wes Thomas was drafted in for his first start for Cherries since August as boss Howe made three changes.
Thomas, recently returned from a loan spell with Blackpool, was joined in the Cherries starting line-up by goalkeeper Shwan Jalal and midfielder Richard Hughes.
Wigan made no fewer than nine changes following their 1-1 draw with Premier League rivals Fulham on Saturday.
Thomas was soon in the thick of the action, his shot looping over the crossbar after the Latics had failed to clear Steve Cook’s long throw.
As the two teams tried to master a tricky playing surface, chances were at a premium during the early stages.
And it took a mistake to present Wigan with their first shooting opportunity, with Boselli profiting to open the scoring.
The Argentinean international unleashed a fierce right-foot drive into the top corner from 20 yards after seizing on Arter’s misplaced pass.
Jalal, who could do little to prevent Boselli’s effort finding the back of the net, then got down smartly at his near post to smother Callum McManaman’s shot.
Cherries were forced into a switch after 35 minutes when Lewis Grabban succumbed to injury and was replaced by Pugh.
Pugh immediately had the Wigan defence on the back foot, his probing cross headed wide by Thomas who nipped in front of his marker to meet the delivery.
O’Kane went close to equalising for Cherries on the stroke of half-time, the Irishman creating the chance after forcing Roman Golobart into a mistake.
Having charged down the defender’s intended clearance, O’Kane exchanged passes with Thomas before seeing his ferocious drive rattle the woodwork.
And as Cherries came strong towards the end of the first half, Simon Francis’s shot cannoned off a defender and flew over the crossbar.
First-choice goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi replaced Mike Pollitt at the break as the visitors paid Cherries a huge compliment.
Al Habsi saved comfortably after Thomas had climbed to meet a Francis cross before an effort from Golobart was chalked off for a foul.
Cherries’ plea for a penalty fell on deaf ears after Thomas had gone to ground under a challenge from Golobart midway through the second half.
Al Habsi made a dog’s dinner of trying to catch a rasping drive from Arter, the midfielder’s strike squirming through the Latics goalkeeper’s hands and over the crossbar.
Wes Fogden, on as a 66th-minute substitute for Josh McQuoid, almost scored with his first touch, only to see his angled drive hit Golobart en route to the back of the net.
Jalal then distinguished himself when he made a top-drawer save to keep out Boselli’s header, the goalkeeper diving full-length to his left to thwart the striker.
Francis, who appeared to be clipped by Maynor Figueroa as he charged into the 18-yard box, managed to stay on his feet and may have won a penalty had he gone down.
Pugh was a coat of paint from grabbing a dramatic equaliser, his deflected effort coming back off the crossbar four minutes from time, much to the disappointment of a packed house at Dean Court.
Substitute Matt Tubbs saw his strike through a crowd of players bounce wide of the post before Jalal saved at his near post from Jordi Gomez.
Latics substitute Nouha Dicko squandered a glorious chance to make the tie safe, side-footing wide with the goal at his mercy deep into stoppage time.
And he was almost made to pay when Tubbs’s free-kick from 25 yards was acrobatically pushed away by Al Habsi.
In the dying seconds, referee Jon Moss missed a blatant shove on Charlie Daniels, with Cherries robbed of a penalty – and a potential equaliser – their efforts would have richly deserved.
See all our pictures from the third round replay here
Cherries: Jalal, Francis, Cook, Elphick, Daniels, Hughes (Tubbs, 81), McQuoid (Fogden, 66), Arter, O’Kane, Grabban (Pugh, 34), Thomas.
Unused subs: McDermott, Partington, Pitman, James (g/k).
Latics: Pollitt (Al Habsi, h/t), Stam, Golobart, Boyce, Figueroa, Gomez, Espinoza, Fyvie, McManaman (Dicko, 60), Boselli (Mustoe, 90), Henriquez.
Unused subs: McArthur, Redmond, Buxton, Campabadal.
Booked: Stam, McManaman, Espinoza, Henriquez.
Attendance: 8,890 (including 237 visiting supporters).
Referee: Jon Moss (West Yorkshire).