by Dan Davis (@dan_davis20)
AFC Bournemouth came from behind twice as Callum Wilson’s scrappy equaliser earned Bournemouth a point at south coast rivals Brighton.
The Cherries’ impressive 10-year unbeaten record on New Year’s Day continued as Wilson’s late effort lifted the Dorset club three points above the Premier League drop zone.
Anthony Knockaert had tapped home at the back post to open the scoring before Steve Cook nodded home Jordon Ibe’s corner to level.
Ex-Cherries striker Glenn Murray edged the Seagulls back into the lead early in the second half, but Wilson stabbed home late on after a goal-mouth scramble.
Cherries boss Eddie Howe made four changes to the side that picked up a crucial three points against Everton on Saturday. Marc Pugh replaced the injured Ryan Fraser, who picked up a minor hamstring strain after the clash with the Toffees, while Harry Arter made his first start since his return from injury.
Charlie Daniels and Benik Afobe also started at the AMEX, while Nathan Ake and Dan Gosling dropped to the bench. Andrew Surman returned to the matchday squad after shaking off a knee injury.
Chris Hughton rotated his Brighton side after their goalless draw at Newcastle, with Markus Suttner, Jose Izquierdo and Ezequiel Schelotto all recalled for the Seagulls. Chelsea loanee Izzy Brown was named among the substitutes after missing the clash at St. James Park.
Despite Brighton having only scored twice in their last nine games, the home side raced into an early lead after just five minutes.
Shane Duffy’s delightful cross field pass was taken down by Suttner and the ball was threaded across for Pascal Gross. The German played through Jose Izquierdo, who drilled a pass across goal for Knockaert to cooly tap home at the back post.
Izquierdo almost turned from provider to goalscorer after a surging run from the left, before the Colombian international unleashed a venomous effort that whistled past Asmir Begovic’s far post.
The Cherries carved out their first opportunity in the 12th minute. Charlie Daniels bent a delicate ball around the Brighton defence for Wilson to latch onto, but the ex-Coventry man could only roll an effort wide of Mat Ryan’s goal.
Harry Arter appealed for a penalty when the Irish international smashed an effort towards goal that appeared to be blocked by Knockaert’s arm on the edge of the penalty area, but referee Michael Oliver waved away the protests.
The Seagulls almost doubled their lead just before the half-hour mark. Gross and Murray combined, and the striker lashed a shot towards the far corner that Begovic palmed away at full stretch.
Ibe then almost found the leveller after a brilliant solo effort. The former-Liverpool man collected the ball deep inside the Brighton half, before jinking towards the edge of the box and driving an effort towards goal that Ryan smothered.
Howe’s side continued to create chances, and Steve Cook would have nodded home the equaliser from Lewis Cook’s corner if not for Suttner deflecting the header just wide of the post.
But from the resulting set-piece, the Cherries did find the back of the net.
Ibe’s delivery was met by Steve Cook once again, and the former Brighton centre-half glanced a looping header goalwards that grazed the underside of the crossbar before nestling in the back of the net.
The Seagulls were fortunate to survive another penalty claim when Duffy appeared to bring down Wilson inside the penalty area.
Daniels then tested Ryan’s reflexes, after picking up a short free-kick from Ibe and letting fly an effort from 30 yards that the Australian shot stopper gratefully grasped onto.
But it was Brighton who came closest to leading at the interval. Murray held up play, before shifting possession to the ever-dangerous Gross. A well-weighted pass found Izquierdo, but the Colombian’s close range diversion was superbly denied by Begovic, who thrust out a leg to keep the scores level.
Marc Pugh then tested Ryan on the stroke of half-time after Lewis Cook’s delivery fell at the feet of the Cherries winger, but the south coast rivals entered the break level.
However, it was the Seagulls who restored their lead just three minutes into the second half.
Cherries skipper Francis looked to surge down the right touchline but ran into trouble and gifted the ball to Gross. The German then slid a sumptuous pass into the path of Jose Izquierdo, who teed up Murray on the penalty spot after Begovic rushed out to narrow the angle.
The Seagulls striker took a touch and fired home into the empty net, despite Steve Cook’s best interventions on the goal line.
Ibe then forced Ryan to smother from a tight angle inside the box as Bournemouth looked to hit back, before Duffy blocked another effort from the tricky wide-man moments later.
Begovic was the next to be tested, but Knockaert’s swerving effort was gathered comfortably by the Bosnian.
The Cherries had another penalty claim soon after when Wilson appeared to be shoved from behind by Seagulls fullback Ezequiel Schelotto inside the box, but Michael Oliver was unimpressed.
Brighton then could have sealed the three points in the 68th minute.
Izqueirdo raced away through on Begovic’s goal, after a Bournemouth corner had been repelled. However, the Bosnian rushed out and smothered the shot down low as the Colombian opted to shoot rather than lay off to the waiting Davy Propper.
Ibe then came close to finding the back of the net but his low effort skimmed against the post before bouncing off Ryan’s back for a corner, as the Cherries continued to press for an equaliser.
Howe’s side did find their second goal, through a scramble inside the Brighton box.
As Duffy looked to hook away, Smith charged down the attempted clearance and the deflection landed at the feet of Wilson who tucked away.
Wilson almost scored a winner late on but his effort was denied by Ryan at his near post, meaning the sides had to share the spoils.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Jose Izquierdo (Brighton)
Brighton: Ryan, Dunk, Duffy, Suttner, Propper, Stephens, Schelotto, Knockaert, Izquierdo, Gross, Murray
Subs: Krul, Bruno, Kayal, Hemed, Goldson, March, Brown
Bournemouth: Begovic, Smith, Francis, S. Cook, Daniels, Pugh, Arter, L. Cook, Ibe, Afobe, Wilson
Subs: Boruc, Gosling, Ake, Surman, Mousset, Butcher, Simpson
Referee: Michael Oliver