AFC Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe was disappointed with the manner that his side fell to their first league defeat since his return to the club.
The FA Cup defeat to Premier League side Wigan Athletic on Tuesday night had ended the Cherries run of 18 games unbeaten in all competitions, but a record of 15 League One games without defeat was still in tact before the trip to Walsall.
But with the midlands side in excellent form, an out of sorts performance from the Cherries meant that it would be back to back defeats for Eddie Howe’s side.
Grabban was fit to start following an injury scare midweek, but Marc Pugh was notable in his absence with a dead leg.
Walsall broke the dead lock on the half hour mark when Sam Mantom fired an effort across goal, just before the interval David James then conceded a penalty to give Will Grigg the chance to double the home sides lead which he took.
Within minutes of the second half starting Brett Pitman, who had hit the bar in the first half scored to bring the Cherries back into the game and when Febian Brandy was sent off, it looked like the momentum would swing back into the Cherries favour.
Wes Thomas then hit the bar with a header from a yard out, before Eunan O’Kane conceded a bizarre penalty. Everyone in the ground had thought that Steve Cook had conceded a free kick on the edge of the box and in a bid to keep the game running without stoppages, O’Kane flicked the ball up caught it to run over to place the ball on the spot. Only for the referee to point to the spot for handball.
When Will Grigg tucked away his second penalty kick of the game it was all over.
Howe told BBC Radio Solent…
‘I don’t think we defended well today and I don’t think we passed the ball well enough so the two go together really.
‘Defensively that is as shaky as we’ve looked for whatever reason. We were never in full control of the situation which we have been near enough in the majority of games since I’ve come back and with the ball that’s as poor as we’ve been. We regularly turned over possession under minimal pressure; yes the conditions were difficult but still with the talented players that we have you’d expect better.’
‘We felt at 2-1 we were well in the game and probably the draw’s the minimum we’re going to get here. I think that third goal’s just flattened those hopes.’
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