Crawley were well and truly outplayed by an in-form Bournemouth side as they went down 3-0 at Dean Court.

Reds had won their last two away games but had no answer for a Cherries side which have now been unbeaten in 15 since the return of manager Eddie Howe.

Bournemouth took the lead after 16 minutes when Gary Alexander headed into his own net as he attempted to clear a cross from Steve Cook.

Brett Pitman doubled the advantage five minutes before half-time when he curled home a quickly taken free kick which caught out Reds keeper Paul Jones.

Crawley boss Richie Barker was unhappy with the manner of that goal but there was no arguing about the result which Eunan O'Kane sealed with a third goal six minutes from time.

The result lifted Bournemouth to fifth in League One with Crawley remaining eighth.

Shaun Cooper made a surprise return to the Crawley starting line-up for the first time in three months and almost made an immediate impact against his former club. A low cross from Nicky Adams was headed out to Cooper on the edge of the area and the midfielder’s first time shot flew inches wide of the target.

The home side took control after that and, after Marc Pugh had stabbed a shot straight at Paul Jones, deservedly took the lead in the 16th minute.

Former Albion defender Steve Cook whipped over an inswinging cross from the left which glanced off Alexander’s head and into the top corner.

The Cherries were well worth their lead and could have doubled their advantage just before the half hour when Lewis Grabban got behind the Reds defence only to drag his shot wide of the far post.

A second goal did arrive five minutes before the break in somewhat controversial circumstances. Cooper brought down Pitman just outside the area and as Paul Jones lined up his wall Pitman took the free kick quickly with a low shot which beat the startled Reds keeper and nestled inside the far post.

Reds boss Richie Barker was clearly upset with the nature of the goal as he argued with referee Lee Probert and he could have had more worry about as Bournemouth came close to a third before the break.

A clever corner routine saw a low cross from Charlie Daniels reach Tommy Elphick 12 yards out but he blazed his shot over the bar.

Crawley came into the game more in the second half, forcing a series of corners, but Bournemouth still looked the more likely side to score.

Paul Jones had to get down well to block a fierce shot from Grabban with his legs while Cook put a free header straight at the Crawley goalkeeper from a corner.

The introduction of Billy Clarke gave Reds more of a cutting edge and the top scorer twice went close to scoring after coming off the bench.

Clarke was denied by a fine save from James after racing on to a lovely ball from Nicky Adams and then lashed a shot wide from 20 yards.

Barker went for broke by throwing on Jonte Smith – for his debut – and John Akinde as Crawley played the final ten minutes with four strikers on the pitch.

That left the door open at the back and Bournemouth took full advantage to wrap up the game with six minutes to go. O’Kane controlled a long ball over the top and slid his shot through the legs of the advancing Paul Jones.

Former Reds striker Matt Tubbs almost made it 4-0 in injury time after coming off the bench but was denied by a fine save from Paul Jones.