CHERRIES’ 15-match unbeaten run in League One came to an end today as Walsall registered a deserved victory at the Banks’s Stadium.
Eddie Howe’s men were up against it at the break after Sam Mantom’s goal and a Will Grigg penalty had put the Saddlers 2-0 ahead.
And although Brett Pitman netted to make it 2-1 four minutes into the second half and Febian Brandy was sent off for Walsall, another Grigg penalty sealed victory for the hosts.
Brandy and Jamie Paterson both saw early chances fail to trouble David James before a goalbound effort from Pitman was charged down by a defender.
Skipper Elphick saved the day when he blocked Grigg’s shot towards an unguarded net after James had spilled a cross from Mantom.
However, the reprieve was short lived as Walsall opened the scoring when Mantom’s centre from the right sailed across the face of the goalmouth before nestling in the bottom corner.
Cherries went close to levelling when Pitman’s header from a Josh McQuoid cross came back off the crossbar with Saddlers goalkeeper Ian McLoughlin beaten.
Walsall doubled their lead when Grigg, felled by James for the penalty, drilled his spot kick straight down the middle on the stroke of half-time.
Pitman threw Cherries a lifeline when he headed home a Grabban cross to halve the deficit four minutes into the second half.
Paterson’s strike was touched on to the post by James before a header from Wes Thomas from close range bounced off the underside of the crossbar and landed in McLoughlin’s hands.
Brandy received his marching orders for picking up a second yellow card for a lunge on Eunan O’Kane as the pair challenged for the loose ball on the goalline after James had parried Malvind Benning’s free-kick.
Substitute Matt Tubbs fluffed his lines from six yards when he put the ball over the crossbar before McQuoid drilled a shot straight down McLoughlin’s throat.
Grigg converted a second penalty after O’Kane had inadvertently picked up the ball in the 18-yard area, thinking referee Andy Davies had penalised Cherries for an earlier foul.
Cherries: James, Francis, Cook, Elphick, Daniels, Fogden (Fletcher, 81), Arter (McQuoid, 36), O’Kane, Grabban, Pitman, Thomas (Tubbs, 74).
Unused subs: Seaborne, McDermott, Partington, Jalal (g/k).
Booked: James, McQuoid.
Saddlers: McLoughlin, Purkiss, Butler, Downing, Benning, Baxendale (J Chambers, 86), A Chambers, Mantom, Paterson, Grigg, Brandy.
Unused subs: Holden, Featherstone, Hemmings, Bowerman, Taylor, Grof (g/k).
Booked: Purkiss, Brandy, Baxendale.
Sent off: Brandy.
Attendance: 3,173 (including 317 visiting supporters).
Referee: Andy Davies (Portsmouth).