Review by Phil Sawyer (Twitter: @sawyer_phil)
Bournemouth twice came from behind to earn a well fought draw, as they hosted Stoke City in their penultimate home game of the season. The Cherries weren’t at their best, but Howe’s injury-hit side showed the same resolve and craft that has been ever present in their superb late season revival. The point guaranteed a third season in the Premier League for the club, who can now set their sights on achieving a deserved top half finish.
The opening stages set the tone for the match. Both teams were committing niggly fouls, and when Harry Arter launched himself into a full blooded tackle on Joe Allen on the halfway line, the stadium drew breath in anticipation of referee Paul Tierney’s response. Arter was duly summoned, but thankfully the official recognised that the ball was won in the challenge and issued a cautionary yellow.
The number of goals conceded – in particular those from crosses – have been the main concern in what has otherwise been an excellent campaign for AFCB. Against a side with such physical presence, and with the vicious delivery of Xherdan Shaquiri, Bournemouth could ill afford to concede a succession of corners. It was following such a sequence that the visitors took the lead. The ball swung in from the left, and debutant Lys Mousset was the unfortunate player to notch his teams fifth own goal of the season, when it flicked off his head and beat a despairing Artur Boruc.
A flowing move revolving around their best player on the day hauled the Cherries back into the game after the interval. Seconds after Marco Arnautovic missed an open goal, Adam Smith – an attacking threat throughout – raided down the right wing. The full back was picked out superbly by Lewis Cook, and his low centre was well left by Josh King. Junior Stanislas ran onto the pass to sweep home his fifth of the season and bring the hosts back onto level terms. The Stoke fans, vocal throughout, had been silenced and now it was Bournemouth who looked to press on.
Just 10 minutes later, another aerial ball into the box proved Bournemouth’s undoing yet again. In the midst of a scramble in front of the South Stand, Mame Diouf scuffed home to regain Stoke’s lead. The forward had looked out of his depth for much of the game and will have been grateful to score his first of the season in such fortunate fashion.
Bournemouth have proved specialists in late comebacks though, and particularly at Dean Court they have frequently punished opponents who switch off in the latter stages of games. The pattern repeated itself here when Ryan Shawcross deflected a Josh King effort past his own goalkeeper to level the scores with just minutes left to play. It was the enterprising Adam Smith who once again unlocked the Stoke defence, and although the goal wasn’t the prettiest, it was historic – Eddie Howe can now begin preparations for a third season of Premier League football.