DEFENDER Steve Cook issued an apology to Cherries’ travelling fans after Saturday’s 2-1 defeat against Newcastle.

A hardy band of supporters made the 700-mile round trip to occupy the Leazes Stand at St James’ Park.

And they had prime seats to see Salomon Rondon’s double put Eddie Howe’s men under the cosh inside the opening 40 minutes.

Jefferson Lerma’s glancing header pulled a goal back for the Dorset club in first-half stoppage time after Adam Smith was stretchered off with what appeared a serious knee injury.

Cook admitted Cherries had been “really poor” in the opening period and said sorry to Cherries supporters in attendance.

He told the Daily Echo: “I apologise to the fans because it’s such a long trip. We didn’t really give them anything to reward them for it.

“It was tough for them and I felt for them because it was a lot of money and they have travelled a long way. We hadn’t given them anything to cheer about.

“We spoke about it before the game. We wanted to get a result for them but we didn’t battle and win our individual duels.

“You are not going to win a game in the Premier League if you don’t do that. It was frustrating and all-round a bad weekend.

“We were really poor. Especially in the first half. We got beaten up, didn’t win first or second balls and, when you go 2-0 down, it’s always going to be difficult.”

Defeat left the Dorset club contemplating back-to-back losses for the first time this season. Howe’s men had been beaten 2-1 at home by Manchester United seven days previously.

The Cherries boss said: “We made it difficult for ourselves by not hitting the standards we have throughout the season. It is up to us to make sure we reflect and grow from the experience.

“I don’t think we performed well in the first half, we were disappointed with that. We gave ourselves a mountain to climb.

“It doesn’t help when you concede a goal so early in the game away from home because it gives the crowd a lift and they are immediately in the match.

“We didn’t react well to the goal going in. Adam’s injury would not have helped that and the game became very fragmented.

“We were certainly far from where we wanted to be in that moment of the game.

“The second half was a lot better but it wasn’t to be in the end.”

The reverse left Cherries on 20 points from their opening 12 league fixtures.

Howe added: “We feel we are good enough to beat anybody in the division if we perform well.

“On Saturday, we didn’t hit our best levels of performance, got beaten and we know this league is ruthless enough to do that to you.

“The challenge for us is to go away, analyse the game and make sure we come back a better team.”