Bournemouth head coach Scott Parker admitted his side’s 2-0 defeat at West Bromwich caught him by surprise.
Defensive errors led to early goals from Alex Mowatt and Andy Carroll to end the Cherries’ five-match unbeaten run.
But they remain in second place and on course for automatic promotion with two games in hand on third-placed Huddersfield and a six-point cushion.
Alex Mowatt sent a bobbling drive beyond goalkeeper Mark Travers from 20 yards after Bournemouth failed to deal with Darnell Furlong’s deep cross in the eighth minute.
Five minutes later, a long kick from goalkeeper Sam Johnstone was missed by Nat Phillips and Andy Carroll turned Adam Smith before burying a low, angled shot past goalkeeper Mark Travers.
“It was a bump in the road,” said Parker. “I thought overall we conceded two sloppy goals and they were really poor goals on our part. It was something I didn’t see coming.
“There was an argument for a foul on Jordan Zemura for the first but it was a good finish and the second was a really poor goal from our point of view.
“I was surprised with the two goals because we have been very good in those moments, but we can’t give up those goals like this and expect to score three at a place like this.”
Bournemouth boasted two thirds of the possession and had plenty of chances but their finishing was lacking.
“We huffed and puffed and tried to break a really stubborn side,” admitted Parker.
“But we lacked that little bit of guile of artistry which you need to try to open the door.”
West Brom manager Steve Bruce has all but given up on the play-offs after victory left his side seven points off the top six but in 11th place and with six games left.
“There’s a glimmer (of hope) but we have to be realistic as well,” said Bruce.
“It’s going to take an almighty push but there’s that many teams chasing. But we’re not giving up.”
The Baggies have beaten champions-elect Fulham and drawn with Huddersfield to confirm they have the quality on their day to match the best in the Sky Bet Championship.
“I’m as frustrated as the fans are,” admitted Bruce. “Unfortunately that inconsistency has cost us and that’s the frustration because we know we’ve got decent players. Let’s hope we can get to the levels.”
Bruce was delighted with the performance of Carroll.
“The goals were well taken and I’m delighted for Andy in particular – just to see him fit and well and playing with heart and determination,” he added.
“That’s why fans enjoy watching him and that’s why he’s been a cult hero wherever he’s played.
“If he stays fit, he’s always a handful.”
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