A brace from Cherries defender Ian Cox gave Ray Wilkins a reality check as Fulham were beaten at Bournemouth this afternooon.

The Whites were left to rue some dreadful defending that gave them a mountain to climb at Dean Court. The visitors looked fallible even before Cox headed the hosts in front on eighteen minutes and two set-piece goals proved their undoing. The former Crystal Palace man climbed highest to direct a corner from Russell Beardsmore beyond Mark Walton to put Mel Machin’s side ahead on a gloriously sunny afternoon.

The hosts, through Steve Fletcher, spurned several opportunities to double their lead both before and after half time. But Cox popped up again twenty minutes into the second period to power home a right-wing free-kick from Jamie Vincent, much to Wilkins’ chagrin. Fulham were handed a lifeline with eighteen minutes remaining when Vincent glanced Robbie Herrera’s corner past his own goalkeeper.

Danny Cullip brought down Steve Robinson in the penalty area within sixty seconds as that glimmer hope appeared to evaporate immediately, although Mark Walton saved Robinson’s tame spot-kick. The Londoners, who gave new arrival from Arsenal Ian Selley a debut in midfield, couldn’t find an equaliser in a frantic finale.

AFC BOURNEMOUTH: Glass; Cox, Howe, Vincent, Young; Warren, Bailey (O’Neill 8), Rawlinson, Beardsmore, Robinson; Fletcher. Subs (not used): Brisset, Harrington.

BOOKED: Vincent.

GOALS: Cox (17, 65).

FULHAM: Walton; Lawrence, Blake, Cullip; Smith (Carpenter 66), Herrera, Bracewell (Freeman 66), Selley (Morgan 85), Hayward; Conroy, McKenzie.

BOOKED: Cullip, Freeman, Lawrence.

GOAL: Vincent (o.g. 82)

REFEREE: Guy Stretton (Leicestershire).