By Oliver Dyer
AFC Bournemouth came into their match against Watford on the back of two defeats after losing to both Hull City and Millwall. In a bid to alter their misfortunes, Manager Eddie Howe made two changes to the line-up that lost at The KC Stadium. Joshua King replaced Harry Arter and Callum Wilson lead the line in place of Benik Afobe. In contrast Walter Mazzari made one change as new loan signing Tom Cleverley replaced Valon Behrami.
The game’s first chance came courtesy of Jack Wilshere whose brilliant chip in to the box was met by the head of Ryan Fraser. 13 minutes in and the Scot forced a smart save from goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes who managed to tip the ball over the cross bar. The Brazilian was again called in to action on the 20-minute mark when Wilshere’s low shot was parried out by the former Tottenham stopper.
Through one of their first chances of the game, Watford grabbed a goal. Charlie Daniels backpass put goalkeeper Artur Boruc in trouble and the ball was cleared away for a corner. Tom Cleverley whipped in an inviting cross which was met by the head of Miguel Britos at the back post. His header went in the direction of Christian Kabasele who nodded past the helpless Boruc to put the Hornets in the driving seat with 23 minutes on the clock.
Going into half time, Bournemouth searched for a way back into the game and in the 40th minute Junior Stanislas forced another smart stop from Gomes. His shot was deflected courtesy of a slide tackle from Miguel Britos. The ball looped over the head of the Hornets keeper only for him to somehow get a hand to the ball and tip it over the bar.
Tom Cleverley sent a low shot wide of the post for the visitors, but despite being behind, it was Bournemouth who went in to the break on the front foot.
Three minutes after the interval and the Cherrie’s made their pressure count with Joshua King putting the hosts level. Adam Smith tapped the ball through the legs of Abdoulaye Doucoure down the right-hand side before running with the ball and squaring to King, who had the simplest of finishes.
It was then Watford’s turn to crank up the heat. Andrew Surman’s pass went astray and Jose Holebas’s collected on the edge of the area. His shot to the keeper’s right was turned around the post.
Bournemouth’s Ryan Fraser then tested Gomes down the other end. His curling effort towards the stopper’s left seemed destined to fly in, only for the keeper to tip it round the post brilliantly.
Again, against the run of play, Watford went down the other end and scored their second goal of the game on the 65th minute mark.
Kabasele’s shot from the edge of the area was deflected out of play. Tom Cleverley’s corner was then met by the head of Watford captain Troy Deeney who beat Boruc to the ball to head home his fifth goal in the league this season.
Eddie Howe decided to bring on Jordon Ibe, Benik Afobe, and Marc Pugh around the 80-minute mark and the changes worked.
Despite being 2-1 down, Bournemouth didn’t let their heads drop and it was substitute Benik Afobe who managed to grab an equaliser. Andrew Surman played a ball through to the striker who smashed it past Gomes and in to the bottom right hand corner with six minutes to play.
Deep into injury time and the drama wasn’t finished there. Charlie Daniels thought he had won the game for the hosts as he fired the ball home from inside the area. However, referee Lee Mason deemed that Steve Cook had handled and much to Watford’s delight, the game finished in a draw.
After the match, Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe said: “I thought it was a good performance. We started the game really well but got knocked by their goal. Overall I thought we were unfortunate not to win the game.”
The Cherries next game is against Sam Allardyce’s Crystal Palace on Tuesday 31st of January.