By Jonathan Nagioff (@jonathannagioff)
Charlie Austin’s second half strike denied AFC Bournemouth a first win in three games as the spoils were shared in an entertaining 1-1 draw with Southampton.
Ryan Fraser had given the Cherries the lead just before half time, but the Saints struck back just 15 minutes after the restart with Austin scoring his fourth goal of the campaign.
After a cagey opening 10 minutes, it was the away side who stamped their authority on the game first. Southampton defender Virgil Van Dijk was presented with a glorious chance from a corner, but he blazed his free header over the cross bar.
However, the home side responded and almost broke the deadlock. Adam Smith’s ferocious volley was turned towards goal by Defoe, but Fraser Forster made a brilliant reaction save to deny his England colleague.
Forster had to be at his best again to deny Nathan Ake who found space at the back post, only to be denied again with a diving header.
The Cherries were appealing for a penalty shortly afterwards, as Adam Smith burst into the penalty area and believed he had been fouled by Sofiane Boufal.
However, referee Jonathan Moss booked the Bournemouth right back for simulation, and under new Premier League rules he will now be suspended.
Moments later, Mauricio Pellegrino’s Saints side were calling for a spot kick of their own.
James Ward Prowse provided a perfectly weighted ball to Austin, whose header was well stopped by Begovic. Dusan Tadic was the quickest to react and his volley appeared to strike Simon Francis’ arm, but again the referee was not convinced.
Daniels then came closest for the home side, hitting a thunderous first-time effort with the outside of his left foot just wide of Forster’s post.
With the match heading towards a goalless first half, the Cherries found their scoring touch. Josh King put good pressure on defender Wesley Hoedt and managed to steal the ball off him.
The forward then found Surman in space, who fed the ball through to Ryan Fraser and the Scottish international curled his shot through Forster’s legs – his first goal since January.
Southampton boss Pellegrino looked to change his side’s fortunes after the break and brought on Nathan Redmond to add to the attacking impetus.
Redmond has been in the spotlight since Wednesday’s defeat at Manchester City, but his impact was clear to see as the Saints came out with more purpose in the second half.
Moroccan wide-man Boufal was a threat throughout and tested Begovic early on with a fierce low drive, which the former Chelsea keeper managed to hold on to.
However, Bournemouth were always looking to extend their lead and almost did. On 50 minutes, Defoe combined well with King in the area and his deflected shot just evaded the on-rushing Stanislas at the far post.
Southampton continued to mount the pressure on the Bournemouth defence, and they eventually found their reward.
Redmond found space on the right hand side and Charlie Austin peeled off the defenders to meet the low cross and smash the ball in past Begovic.
The Cherries, who were beaten in 2-1 against Burnley in midweek, had to prevent another repeat result as their south coast rivals searched for a second.
A lightning quick counter attack almost brought another. Dusan Tadic raced through the midfield and set Bertrand away on the left hand side.
The full back had an almost unmarked Austin to aim for at the far post but his cross drifted out of play as they failed to punish the Cherries’ lack of organisation at the back.
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe turned to Callum Wilson and Jordan Ibe in place of Jermain Defoe and Junior Stanislas, in a bid to freshen things up.
The introduction of Wilson nearly worked wonders. On 74 minutes, Daniels found King in the area and the Norwegian international was able to swivel past the defender and fire a fierce effort at Forster.
The goalkeeper was able to palm the effort away, which somehow managed to deflect onto Wilson and go out for a goal kick, with the home fans left stunned as to how their side had not converted the chance.
There were few chances of note in the final ten minutes of the game but as Chris Wood was for Burnley on Wednesday, Austin provided the biggest threat for the Saints.
Another cross from Bertrand this time found former QPR striker, who towered over Ake but could not find the target with his header.
Both managers did not seem content with a point and made attacking changes as the game reached its dying embers. Pellegrino put on Manolo Gabbiadini in place of Steven Davis and Howe threw on Benik Afobe for Ryan Fraser.
The Cherries had one final chance with Nathan Ake heading over from a corner with the last kick of the game.
The results leaves AFC Bournemouth in 14th place in the Premier League table with 15 points and just two points above the relegation zone, whilst Southampton are in 11th place just two points above their neighbours on 17 points.
Next up for Bournemouth is a trip to struggling Crystal Palace next Saturday and Southampton face Arsenal at St Mary’s next Sunday.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Ryan Bertrand
AFC Bournemouth: Begovic, Smith, Francis, Ake, Daniels, Stanislas, Surman, L. Cook, Fraser, King, Defoe
Subs: Boruc, S.Cook, Gosling, Pugh, Afobe, Wilson, Ibe
Southampton: Forster, Pied, Bertrand, Van Dijk, Hoedt, Davis, Ward-Prowse, Romeu, Tadic, Boufal, Austin
Subs: McCarthy, Yoshida, Lemina, Gabbiadini, Redmond, Emile Hojbjerg, Targett
Referee: Jonathan Moss