Jack Wilshere had waited a long time for this. In his first FA Cup appearance since winning the 2015 final with Arsenal, Bournemouth edged out Ligue 2 side Crawley with a first goal in 518 days from the former England midfielder.
It capped an impressive return performance from Wilshere, who joined Bournemouth on a short-term contract until the end of the season last week after being released by West Ham in October. Tom Nichols briefly ignited the hopes of Covid-hit Crawley of inflicting a second upset after embarrassing Leeds in the third round, but Josh King’s goal was enough to bring Jason Tindall’s side to a fifth round encounter with Burnley.
“Jack got his goal really well. It was a very good performance, ”said Tindall, Bournemouth manager. “As we know with Jack, he’s a quality player, he always wants the ball and I was very happy with his performance. The minutes will do him good and it was a step forward for him.
Although he is also part of the Arsenal squad that won the FA Cup in 2014 under Arsene Wenger, Wilshere’s only other goal in that competition came in a replay the year before against Swansea. The 29-year-old spent the 2016-17 season on the South Coast on loan from Arsenal and, after Wilshere made his second debut at Bournemouth as a substitute in the Derby loss at the weekend, he was one of six changes for the hosts.
Crawley’s preparations had been severely hampered by a coronavirus outbreak at the Ligue 2 club last week which forced their training ground to close until Monday. This match was due to take place on Saturday but was quickly revamped, as that also meant that John Yems was without five senior players.
The tone was set here in the first 10 minutes as Bournemouth enjoyed 84% possession and created several chances, including Philip Billing’s header from a corner coming back from the post. Defense remains an obvious weakness of the squad Tindall inherited from Eddie Howe, however, and Crawley’s striking pair of Nichols and Ashley Nadesan combined well to create a first underdog opportunity that was webbed. by Asmir Begovic.
Yet after Bournemouth passed up more chances to take the lead, Wilshere’s 24th-minute goal was a work of art. Snappy Arnaut Danjuma received the ball from Billing’s pass and on the edge of the zone found King, whose stroke in Wilshere’s way allowed him to wrap the ball into the net with his left foot without breaking the stride.
Much to his disappointment after scoring against Leeds, former Tottenham youth team player Nick Tsaroulla was forced to leave with an apparent injury shortly after Crawley fell behind. It would have been even more difficult for them at half-time if David Brooks had made more than two chances, while King was also set to extend Bournemouth’s lead from a tight angle, but was denied by the goalkeeper Glenn Morris.
Yems had been forced to keep in touch with his players from a distance given the strict coronavirus restrictions and had organized training sessions through Zoom in a bid to stay in shape after beating Leeds on January 10. So it was no surprise to see them struggle to keep a creeping Bournemouth side at bay, with a close-range save from Morris denying Wilshere his second goal early in the second half.
Begovic’s momentary lack of focus nearly gave Crawley an equalizer after a back pass was imputed by Nichols, with the goalkeeper making amends by saving Nadesan’s call. Nichols then felt aggrieved after receiving a yellow card following a challenge from Lloyd Kelly in the area which was considered a dive by referee Andre Marriner, although he had less revenge. one minute.
Reruns showed the 27-year-old was offside in the build-up and didn’t get close to wrong after Josh Wright kicked off. Crawley’s joy was short-lived, however, as King finished Danjuma’s brilliant run after Wilshere missed the opportunity to score a carbon copy of his goal. The second from Bournemouth prompted his withdrawal as Tindall threw on Dominic Solanke in an attempt to finish off Crawley. It didn’t come to fruition despite several good chances, even though it was still meant to be Wilshere’s Night.