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Fulham 1-5 Bournemouth Cham 36 1415 Daily Mail

last updated Sunday 08th March 2015, 4:12 PM
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Riath Al-Samarrai at Daily Mail

Fulham (0) 1-5 (2) Bournemouth

Back on form, back on top and no need for the Bournemouth bean counters to worry about the cost of their goal rush.

As their manager, Eddie Howe, put it: 'We don't pay goal bonuses.'

On nights like this, that will make for a healthy saving. Across the course of this remarkable season, in which their tally of 74 goals is more than any other side in the top four divisions, it must be worth a fortune.

And yet it will be nothing compared to the kind of windfall that will head Bournemouth's way if they somehow stay the course. Can they do it? Really? With their 12,000-capacity ground and 125-year history of never coming close?

The assumption has long been that this club will slip away quietly. But it isn't quite working out that way. They had their blip in the past few weeks, at one stage going five without a win. But with two straight wins, it is looking increasingly possible that Howe will be a top-flight manager next season.

For most observers of this bright, English coach, that status has only ever been a matter of time in the coming. He has taken Bournemouth to this point from League Two and last night led an annihilation of a side not afraid to spend.

Brett Pitman and Matt Ritchie shared four goals between them and Steve Cook scored a fifth but, truthfully, the rout could have been greater. Suddenly, Howe has to manage expectations of automatic promotion.

He said: 'The (Championship) lead has changed so many times. It is almost the tag no one wants.

'Our best finish is 10th in 130-odd years of football, so to say it's a failure if we don't make top two, I don't buy that.'

For Kit Symons, the only consolation was that Matt Smith briefly brought the score back to 3-1. The rest of the game, like Fulham's season, was a misery.

He said: 'No one is under any illusions. Look at the table - we know where we are.'

Symons added: 'We never got going here. They were a different level all over the pitch from start to finish. Three games in a week against three top sides affected us. We got up for the first two but we couldn't get going in this one. It looked top against bottom.'

Fulham have an eight-point cushion on the relegation zone, but Symons said: 'Until we are mathematically safe we have to be conscious of what is below and behind us.'

They were struggling from the start here. Within nine minutes, Bournemouth's Marc Pugh saw a shot nudged over and moments later Ryan Tunnicliffe cleared Brett Pitman's effort off the line.

From there, it only got worse for Fulham, a side that might well find itself two divisions removed from Bournemouth in a few months. They were woeful, a disjointed mess of a team that was summed up early on when Hugo Rodallega flicked the ball and realised no team-mate was anywhere nearby.

They have won one in 11 in all competitions and that form really is no great mystery.

They fell behind after 29 minutes here when Pitman was given too much space by Nikolay Bodurov and buried a Charlie Daniels cross. Luck was against Fulham seven minutes later when Matt Ritchie's deflected in off Bodurov.

Pitman scored a brilliant third shortly after the hour mark, taking possession in his own half before embarrassing Shaun Hutchinson and Scott Parker and nailing the finish. Matt Smith pulled a goal back for Fulham but Fernando Amorebieta's red card for tripping Callum Wilson in the 70th minute killed the home side.

Ritchie was teed up from the resulting free-kick and scored Bournemouth's fourth from the edge of the area. Cook then rocketed Bournemouth's 74th goal of the season for good measure.

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