Bournemouth’s shock FA Cup exit is another dampener on Scott Parker’s title ambitions

The magic of the FA Cup is a cliché that is tossed around every year as the bigger sides in the football pyramid start to progress. With all the money churned into the modern game, it’s hard to imagine a side lower down the pecking order ever marching down Wembley Way again, but non-league Boreham Wood were on hand to further blemish Bournemouth’s lukewarm start to the year, winning 1-0 at the Vitality Stadium to reach the fifth round.

Having easily dispatched of Yeovil Town at the start of January, many expected Scott Parker’s side to cruise through the fourth round — potentially reaching the latter stages of the competition alongside their push for automatic promotion in the Championship. Alas, the inconsistency that plagued the Cherries last campaign has reared its head once again, with an away win to Barnsley failing to paper over the cracks of consecutive defeats in the second tier to teams tipped for the drop in the English Championship relegation odds.

There’s no doubt this Bournemouth side are an extremely talented bunch. And just judging from Brentford this season, they would thrive in the Premier League with their brand of attacking football, but to reach the promised land you need to be dispatching of teams that set up to defend deep — something Parker has struggled to grasp since his lengthy unbeaten run came to an end in November.

The FA Cup defeat inflicted more damage on a Bournemouth team that have looked a shadow of their former selves. They looked like champions elect in a 15-game unbeaten run which thrust them into first place, but a combination of fatigue and new additions has meant recent results have suffered. Indeed, January proved a busy month, with Todd Cantwell, Nat Phillips, Kieffer Moore, Siriki Dembele and Freddie Woodman all arriving on the south coast, but that isn’t an excuse to be losing against a side three leagues below.

Boreham Wood left Parker with plenty of questions to answer — not least around their hopes of the title. Judging from the dejected illustrations on players faces when 37-year-old Mark Ricketts found the back of the net expressed what needed to be said. That was their only shot on target, one of three, and with just 17% possession, it’s easy to see why Parker described it as one of the low points in his career.

“I’m hugely hurt and disappointed. I’ve been involved around football for a long time.” He said: “We all know the magic of the FA Cup and what that brings. But I don’t want to be sitting here on the end of that. That’s the cold, hard facts.

“I don’t want to be on the end of a giant-killing, as magic as it is. I wanted to be here tonight and put a performance in and win the game. We’ve not managed to do that. Sometimes you have to take your medicine. Tonight we have to take our medicine and I have to take mine.”

Bournemouth have a big few weeks ahead of them. While the Championship predictions have them to go up, the Cherries will want to steer way clear of the play-offs’ unpredictability, and turning things around as quickly as possible will be the best recipe for more immediate success