CHERRIES wrote another chapter in the Dean Court record books by chalking up a seventh away win in the second flight thanks to a 4-2 victory at Birmingham today.
The historic triumph – which surpassed the six wins from 1987-88 – came courtesy of Lewis Grabban’s double and goals from Matt Ritchie and Ian Harte.
Eddie Howe’s men raced into a 3-0 lead after Ritchie’s opener had been added to by Grabban’s tap in and his emphatic penalty inside the first 28 minutes.
Harte made it 4-0 with the pick of the goals after 52 minutes before Federico Macheda’s double gave the Blues hope of a comeback which Cherries nipped in the bud by defending well.
Blues supporters were convinced their team had taken the lead after four minutes when Paul Caddis’s free kick fizzed past Cherries goalkeeper Lee Camp. However, although some home fans celebrated, the ball had actually gone wide.
Ritchie’s thunderous left-foot strike was deflected past the upright before Jordon Ibe’s 10th-minute corner caused mayhem and was eventually cleared after coming back off the post.
Ritchie made the breakthrough after 13 minutes, his delightfully cushioned effort at the far post from a Grabban pass beating the despairing dive of Darren Randolph and squeezing inside the post.
It was his sixth goal of the season and his first since he scored twice during a 3-0 win against Yeovil on Boxing Day, although Blues were furious referee Mick Russell had prevented Ibe returning to the pitch to help his defenders following a change of boot.
Grabban doubled Cherries’ lead after 20 minutes when he tapped home the loose ball at the far post after Marc Pugh’s cross had been deflected into his path off the hand of Chris Burke.
The goal owed much to Harry Arter whose defence-splitting pass sent Pugh haring down the left flank before the winger’s cross eventually fell invitingly for Cherries’ leading goalscorer.
Grabban increased Cherries’ advantage from the spot, rifling high into the roof of the net and making Randolph pay for upending him as he latched on to Yann Kermorgant’s pass.
Although referee Russell opted against showing the Blues goalkeeper a yellow card for his indiscretion, Randolph talked his way into the book after he had conceded the penalty.
Ritchie went close to adding a fourth just a minute later when his rasping effort flew narrowly wide, while Grabban’s volley just cleared the crossbar towards the end of the first half.
An alert Camp preserved Cherries’ clean sheet in first-half stoppage time when he pulled off a top-drawer save to claw away a Paul Robinson header following Ibe’s corner.
Defender Harte handed Cherries the ideal start to the second half when he made it 4-0 with a stunning left-foot strike seven minutes after the break.
The Irishman retrieved possession after his corner had only been half cleared and despatched a venomous drive past Randolph from the edge of the 18-yard box.
He celebrated his first goal for the club by pointing to his left boot to suggest it had been on fire – and not too many Cherries supporters would have disagreed.
Cherries were briefly caught napping at the back when Birmingham pulled one back after 57 minutes, substitute Macheda sweeping home Ibe’s headed cross from around six yards.
And although Ritchie went close to making it 5-1 with a crisp right-foot shot, Macheda was next on the scoresheet when his low 20-yarder beat Camp to make it 4-2 with 17 minutes remaining.
Grabban went through one-on-one with Randolph after 76 minutes, although the goalkeeper won the duel when he spread himself to block after the striker had taken aim from a tight angle.
Ibe’s long-range effort flashed past the post before Camp fell to his right to clutch a header from Robinson after the City skipper had met an Ibe corner. Late on, Arter’s piledriver was beaten away by Randolph.
Cherries: Camp, Francis, Cook, Elphick, Harte, Ritchie, O’Kane, Arter (Ward, 90), Pugh (Fraser, 69), Grabban, Kermorgant (Surman, 78).
Unused subs: Pitman, Smith, Rantie, Allsop (g/k).
Blues: Randolph, Spector, Robinson, Martin (Lovenkrands, 79), Blackett, Caddis, Reilly, Burke, Shinnie (Macheda, 33), Ibe, Zigic (Novak, 55). Unused subs: Lee, Ferguson, Rusnak, Doyle (g/k).
Booked: Randolph, Caddis.
Referee: Mick Russell (Hertfordshire).
Attendance: 13,875 (including 1,182 away supporters).