Josh King and Marc Pugh spared AFC Bournemouth’s blushed as they completed a 2-1 comeback victory over League Two Portsmouth in the fourth round of the FA Cup.
Paul Cook’s hosts led when Gary Roberts, a goalscorer from the penalty spot in the previous round against Ipswich Town, broke the deadlock in the 43rd minute.
Bournemouth struggled for fluency after Eddie Howe made 10 changes to the side that drew 1-1 at Sunderland last weekend, but King – playing for the first time since January 2 following a hamstring injury – levelled the tie after substitutes Pugh and Matt Ritchie sparked an improved display.
When Portsmouth lifted the FA Cup as a top-flight club in 2008, Bournemouth had just slipped into the fourth tier having gone into administration.
The clubs have experienced wildly contrasting fortunes in the intervening years, Portsmouth’s well-documented financial woes plunging them down the divisions at the same time as Bournemouth have enjoyed a meteoric rise.
But there was no inferiority complex in evidence from Cook’s men at Fratton Park – the clinical and composed nature of their performance never better demonstrated than when they retained possession with an easy assurance in the extended build-up to Roberts’ opener.
Ultimately, they were unable to stem the Bournemouth tide during the last half hour and Pugh, having been a catalyst for much of his team’s better work, settled matters seven minutes from time.
Portsmouth applied pressure during the opening stages, with Bournemouth not entirely convincing under a flurry of corners before Adam Federici saved superbly from Marc McNulty’s bouncing 20-yard strike.
Bournemouth responded midway through the half as experienced striker Glenn Murray glanced a free-kick wide after being hacked down by Christian Burgess.
Portsmouth goalkeeper Ryan Fulton bettered Federici’s earlier stop when Juan Iturbe’s strike fizzed through a crowd of bodies and he tipped the ball on to his left post.
Fulton’s intervention was rewarded two minutes before half-time when Roberts collected McNulty’s square pass and coolly slotted home to crown a wonderful team move.
Roberts might have doubled his tally nine minutes into the second half as Kyle Bennett unpicked the Bournemouth defence, but he pulled an attempt across the face of goal.
Confidence was coursing through a Portsmouth side roared on by their vocal home support and, with his team struggling to gain any meaningful possession, Howe replaced Iturbe and Murray with Pugh and Ritchie after an hour.
Goal hero Roberts and Burgess departed to a standing ovations shortly afterwards, although Bournemouth fared better from the double changes – Ritchie and Eunan O’Kane combining for Lewis Grabban to blast over.
King narrowly failed to get the decisive touch on the end of a teasing left-wing cross but he made no mistake in the 71st minute when he glanced home from O’Kane’s pinpoint free-kick.
Matthew Clarke made a last-ditch tackle to deny Grabban and the impressive Fulton denied the Bournemouth forward in the 83rd minute.
But the loose ball looped toward Pugh at the back post and he smuggled it over the line to book a spot in the last 16.
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