By Tommy Churchyard
AFC Bournemouth were held to a 1-1 draw against West Bromwich Albion this afternoon in Cherries’ final home game of the season.
Albion took the lead after 16 minutes through Salomon Rondon, who headed home Jonny Evans cross, after a poor Artur Boruc clearance gifted possession to the Baggies.
West Brom had a golden opportunity to double their lead from the penalty spot just before half-time, after Tommy Elphick pulled down Gareth McAuley. But Boruc pulled off a wonderful double save, making amends for his earlier error.
Matt Ritchie grabbed the equaliser late on, heading home from close range after the Baggies failed to deal with a Bournemouth long throw.
Eddie Howe was pleased with the result overall, especially after his side had to come back from a goal down.
“We’re very relieved not to lose and that was important for us today. I thought we were too slow in the first-half, but it got better in the second. I’ve never seen Matt Ritchie score a header in training, let alone a game. It was a collector’s item.
“At 1-0 Artur made a great save, he’s an outstanding goalkeeper and saved a penalty against Leicester too earlier in the season which earned us a big point. 2-0 might have been a bridge too far so I’m pleased for him.”
Eddie Howe made four changes from his starting XI at Everton last weekend, including the re-introduction of Max Gradel, who had Bournemouth’s first opportunity of the game. After leaving Craig Dawson for dead on the left, he played a one-two with Lewis Grabban and forced a sharp save from Ben Foster at his near post.
Shortly after West Brom took the lead and it was a moment to forget for Arter Boruc. His miss-kicked clearance fell straight to 17-year-old Jonathan Leko who spread the ball out wide to Evans and he then picked out Rondon, who climbed highest to head home from close range.
There was a lack of goal-mouth action following the opener, with Bournemouth failing to break through West Brom’s resolute defence, despite having all the possession.
Mark Clattenburg then awarded the Baggies a penalty, after Elphick carelessly pulled down McAuley in the box. But Boruc redeemed himself from his earlier mistake, pushing Craig Gardner’s penalty onto the bar and saving the rebound tremendously.
The beginning of the second half followed a similar pattern to the first, with neither team creating any decent chances.
Howe then attempted to spark some life into his team by replacing Benik Afobe and Max Gradel with Callum Wilson and Joshua King.
Soon after Wilson found himself through on goal, but his left-footed effort across goal slipped just past the post.
Harry Arter was then booked after a very strong challenge on Darren Fletcher, with Tony Pulis and many Albion fans wondering how he managed to remain on the pitch.
Bournemouth then deservedly found an equaliser through Matt Ritchie, who had only been on the pitch for a matter of minutes. West Brom failed to clear a Cherries long throw-in and Ritchie nipped in to head home from close range after 82 minutes.
It was Bournemouth who looked the more likely side to find a winner, with the game really opening up in the last 10 minutes.
But it was West Brom who had two great chances to grab their first win in eight, firstly through Craig Dawson who smacked his shot against the post and then through substitute Saido Berahino, who’s low drive was saved well by Boruc.
Full time result: AFC Bournemouth 1 West Bromwich Albion 1
Cherries: Boruc, Francis, Cook, Elphick, Surman, Arter, Gradel (King 60’), Daniels, Stanislas (Ritchie 74’), Afobe (Wilson 60’), Grabban
West Brom: Foster, Olsson, Yacob, Evans, Gardner (Berahino 74’), McClean, McAuley, Fletcher, Dawson, Rondon, Leko (Sandro 86’)