Junior Stanislas scored the only goal of the game as Bournemouth shaded Stoke City in a low-key Championship encounter in the Potteries.
The Cherries midfielder raced clear down the inside-left channel late on to latch onto a superb Lewis Cook through ball before drawing Josef Bursik out and slipping a low left-foot shot under the Stoke keeper.
Striker Dominic Solanke had wasted a similar first-half chance when set free by another superb 60-yard lofted Cook pass.
The onrushing Bursik did enough to distract him and, although the Cherries top scorer executed a neat right-foot chip over him on the run, he gave the ball too much flight and it clipped the bar before going over.
But Stanislas showed how it should be done with a 79th-minute winner that helped Bournemouth bounce back from the defeat at Brentford – their first in six games.
That lifted Jason Tindall’s side to third, keeping them within two points of second-placed Swansea City and six behind leaders Norwich City, with a game in hand on both.
Stoke, badly missing injured top scorer Tyrese Campbell and further disrupted by the early loss of fellow striker Steven Fletcher, have dropped to eighth, two points outside the play-off zone, after failing to score for the fourth time in six games.
On a cold night at the Bet365 Stadium which had second-half snow flurries compared to the fog which shrouded Wednesday’s game against Nottingham Forest, it was another match dominated by two hard-working but overmanned midfields.
Nick Powell diverted Stoke’s best chance wide, a first-half header, but just when they looked set to suffer a sixth 0-0 draw this season, and fourth in seven games, Stanislas struck with the Cherries’ first effort on target – his seventh goal of the season, all of which have come in their last nine matches.
They might have had a second but for Diego Rico’s shot being blocked before Stoke substitute Sam Vokes went close against his old club with the final effort of the game.
Defeat left the Potters with one win in eight matches – but with a first clean sheet for former Stoke keeper Asmir Begovic on his fourth return to his old club.
Both sides are now in FA Cup third-round action next Saturday, Stoke at home to Leicester, while Bournemouth go to Oldham.
The Championship then resumes on 12 January with Bournemouth at home to Millwall, when Tindall’s team will have an opportunity to play their game in hand and move into the top two.
Stoke manager Michael O’Neill told BBC Radio Stoke:
“The fact that Steven Fletcher had to come off is a worrying sign as he’s just back after injury. He felt it earlier in the game, then aggravated it further.
“It was a blow but, at this moment in time, it’s difficult to say how long. But Nick Powell was brilliant. In fact he’s had a really good year.
“His versatility will be a factor over the rest of the season, now we have more bodies in midfield, with John Mikel Obi and Joe Allen coming back, and Sam Clucas on the way back.”
Bournemouth boss Jason Tindall told BBC Radio Solent:
“We were worthy winners with the chances we created and I don’t really remember Asmir having a real save to make, other than a couple of long-range efforts.
“It was a great ball from Lewis, a great forward penetrating run from Junior and he slotted it away really nicely and it turned out to be the decisive moment in the match. It’s something we work on in training and, when you get the rewards in a game like this, it’s highly pleasing.
“The way results have gone, we knew this one was important. It was only our third setback against Brentford and each time we have responded by then going to win a tough away game [having won at Birmingham and Barnsley after their two previous away losses].”
- 36SouttarBooked at 90mins
- 12ChesterBooked at 58mins
- 14SmithSubstituted forVokesat 84′minutes
- 34ThompsonBooked at 57minsSubstituted forClucasat 69′minutes
- 11McCleanBooked at 73minsSubstituted forTymonat 84′minutes
- 21FletcherSubstituted forBrownat 25′minutes
- 40Nna Noukeu
- 15A SmithSubstituted forKingat 86′minutes
- 3S Cook
- 16L Cook
- 8LermaBooked at 90mins
- 14SurridgeSubstituted forBrooksat 71′minutes
Match ends, Stoke City 0, Bournemouth 1.
Second Half ends, Stoke City 0, Bournemouth 1.
Harry Souttar (Stoke City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Harry Souttar (Stoke City).
Dominic Solanke (Bournemouth) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Corner, Bournemouth. Conceded by Nathan Collins.
Jefferson Lerma (Bournemouth) is shown the yellow card.
Nick Powell (Stoke City) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Lewis Cook (Bournemouth).
Sam Clucas (Stoke City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Dominic Solanke (Bournemouth).
Corner, Stoke City. Conceded by Jack Simpson.
Attempt missed. David Brooks (Bournemouth) left footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Lewis Cook.
Attempt blocked. Diego Rico (Bournemouth) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Lewis Cook.
Attempt blocked. Junior Stanislas (Bournemouth) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Dominic Solanke.
Substitution, Bournemouth. Joshua King replaces Adam Smith because of an injury.
Substitution, Stoke City. Josh Tymon replaces James McClean.
Substitution, Stoke City. Sam Vokes replaces Tommy Smith.
Foul by Jacob Brown (Stoke City).
Adam Smith (Bournemouth) wins a free kick in the defensive half.