Eddie Howe had almost forgotten what a win felt like until Joshua King’s hat-trick sank West Ham in dramatic fashion.
In-form Bournemouth marksman King took his tally to eight goals in his last seven games – despite having earlier missed a penalty – to secure a 3-2 victory.
In fact the Cherries, who had scored all seven of their previous spot-kicks this season, managed to fluff two in the space of half an hour after Benik Afobe assumed responsibility with the same result.
But ultimately it did not matter as King hit a last-minute winner to complete his treble, cancelling out strikes from Michail Antonio and Andre Ayew to secure Bournemouth’s first win in 2017 – at the ninth attempt – and halt their slide towards the relegation battle.
“It has felt like a long time, I’m not going to deny that,” admitted Cherries boss Howe.
“It’s been a really difficult spell for everyone connected with the team. We’ve been used to winning games in recent seasons.
“Now everyone was talking about us not winning in 2017, so it’s great to have that winning feeling again.
“It’s a relief. We’ve worked on the boys incredibly hard to turn this around. But we still need to get to 40 points as quickly as we can.”
King’s afternoon got off to a poor start when he sidefooted his penalty wide after Sofiane Feghouli had fouled Charlie Daniels, a nd within 48 seconds the ball was in the net at the other end thanks to Antonio’s turn and shot.
King made amends when he flicked a loose ball in the area over Jose Fonte before firing ball past Darren Randolph to equalise.
Afobe was next to try from the spot after Fonte’s trip on Marc Pugh, but his weak effort rolled into the arms of the diving Randolph.
“We’ve actually done really well with penalties this season,” added Howe. “But today was an off day – which is an understatement.”
Nevertheless, Bournemouth took the lead three minutes after the break when King pounced after Afobe flicked on Ryan Fraser’s free-kick.
The Hammers thought they had snatched a point with seven minutes remaining when Sam Byram squared for fellow substitute Ayew to tuck home.
But King struck again at the death, blasting the winner after Randolph had blocked Jack Wilshere’s shot, to leave West Ham crestfallen.
Hammers manager Slaven Bilic criticised his players for not holding out for a point.
“If it’s 2-1 to them you have to risk it, and sometimes they score on the counter, but at 2-2 we should have been more composed at the back,” he said.
“But we weren’t. We left the right side open and they are good on the ball. It was four against three and they took the opportunity.
“We are disappointed, especially as when you play away and score twice you expect to go home with something.
“We showed determination, the problem was not that. It was at the end. We took risks, we were playing with an extremely offensive line-up.
“But after we equalised we should have been a bit more clever.”