Eddie Howe was incredibly relieved that his side were able to comeback and secure their win of the 2017/18 Premier League season courtesy of a 2-1 win over Brighton & Hove Albion on Friday night at the Vitality Stadium.
Solly March put the visitors 1-0 up with a well taken header back across goal before substitute Jordon Ibe provided two assists in the space of six minutes to help turn the game around.
Reflecting after the game Howe said the result has been a long time coming. He said: “It feels like it’s been longer than the four games. At the start of the season we were desperate to make a good start and hit the ground running, that didn’t happen and we had to dig really deep tonight. It was a real test for us and thankfully the players did really well to come through it.”
After a first half which lacked quality from both sides going forward, the Seagulls were much the better side at the start of the second, deservedly taking the lead. After four defeats in the league in a row at the hands of West Bromwich Albion, Watford, Manchester City and Arsenal, Howe was understandably concerned with his side trailing with 30 minutes to go.
“It would have been easy to go under tonight”, said the Cherries boss. “That was what was most impressive about tonight’s win, we did it the hard way. We went 1-0 down and I’m sure the players were thinking how are we going to turn this around and I think it took Jordon’s cameo to spark that revival. When we scored I felt that our confidence was restored and we finished the game very strongly.”
Super Sub Ibe Inspires Cherries Revival
Ibe came on to replace Ryan Fraser in the 65th minute and just two minutes later combined with Andrew Surman, finding the central midfielder with a delightful back heel before he finished cooly past Brighton goalkeeper Mathew Ryan.
Ibe, who joined the Cherries for £15 million in the summer of 2016, struggled to deliver the demands of his price tag and expectations last season, but showed his true potential on Friday night to get the fans and the manager excited.
When asked about the English winger’s performance, Howe said: “He’s a really talented lad, he’s got the ability and he showed real quality in the final third. I mean his back heel was the first time we really opened Brighton up and his second pass was perfectly weighted for Jermain and he did the rest. Full credit to Jordon for his impact.”
Defoe breaks goal duck to secure crucial win
Defoe’s goal was his first back in a Bournemouth shirt after signing in the summer from Sunderland. “He’s one of the best finishers I’ve ever seen”, Howe said. “When I was playing with him I couldn’t believe how good he was.
“The disappointing thing for us this season is that we have created enough chances for him as a team. We’ve not been where we need to be and he’s a player who thrives on what we can create for him”, Howe continued.
“He only had half chances in the first half and his goal was the first real opportunity he got and he took it. We need to get to know as a team what Jermain wants and where he wants the ball as he’s different to any other striker we’ve got.”
With encouraging performances from both Defoe and Ibe the signs certainly look more positive for AFC Bournemouth moving forward. The Cherries face Brighton again on Tuesday night in the third round of the Carabao Cup at the Vitality Stadium.