A Tristan Abrahams double wasn’t enough to get Norwich City’s Under-23s Premier League Cup campaign off to a winning start as they were beaten 3-2 by Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium.
Benik Afobe gave the hosts the lead in the first half before Abrahams equalised with 20 minutes to play. Afobe got his second and then Abrahams did the same immediately after before the Bournemouth striker stole the points for his team in the final few minutes.
Head Coach Matt Gill made three changes from the side that started the 2-2 draw with Reading last week. Russell Martin was replaced at centre-back by Owen Wallis, with Bilal Kamal coming in for Emmerson Sambu and Devonte Aransibia making way for Kieran Higgs.
Bournemouth, meanwhile, started with a proven Premier League strikeforce - Callum Wilson and Afobe headed up a strong, attacking Cherries eleven.
Savvas Mourgos had impressed in a yellow and green shirt since joining from Arsenal in the summer and the Greek midfielder came close to giving City the lead in the opening ten minutes, picking up a poor backpass from Charlie Seaman and making Jordan Holmes produce an acrobatic save.
Bournemouth responded with a chance of their own moments later when Kyle Taylor shot just over from 30 yards. The hosts then had the better of the opening 25 minutes but chances were limited as they struggled to get Wilson and Afobe into the game. That being said, a neat move almost threatened a goal on 26 minutes but Wilson shot straight at Oxborough.
City began to make their way back into the match just after that chance and had a flurry of openings themselves with Mourgos in particular having a close-range strike beaten away after a flowing move involving Adam Phillips and Max Aarons.
However, it was the hosts who struck first around five minutes before the interval as a searching ball played forward by defender Shaun Hobson evaded Timi Odusina and fell to Afobe who coolly dispatched the ball past Oxborough.
City were having to be patient in the second half but it almost paid off on the hour mark as Pierre Fonkeu latched onto a through ball but was brilliantly thwarted by Holmes in the Bournemouth goal.
Wilson was substituted off to a standing ovation by the home support on 65 minutes and his replacement, Mikael Ndjoli, almost doubled Bournemouth’s lead, curling an effort just beyond Oxborough’s far post.
However, it was a substitute from the opposite dugout which sparked the second half into life. Anthony Spyrou had only been on the pitch a matter of minutes but he came up with the decisive ball which allowed Abrahams to level the scores from six yards.
Bournemouth then responded moments later to retake the lead as Afobe slotted past Oxborough before Abrahams got a second of his own on 77 minutes, finishing with aplomb to make it 2-2.
However, the experience of Afobe showed once again in the closing stages as he showed composure to bide his time and finish his hat-trick, giving Bournemouth the win in a topsy-turvy contest.