Written by Dan Davis (@dan_davis20)
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe admitted he was pleased to see his side battle for the badge in Cherries’ dramatic 3-3 draw at Southampton.
In an end-to-end encounter at St Mary’s, the visitors were forced to strike late on 85 minutes to salvage a share of the spoils against their south coast neighbours.
Callum Wilson’s late strike, the second of a scintillating double, secured a point for Howe’s side after Matt Targett’s bullet header had restored Saints’ lead midway through the second half.
Dan Gosling was also an unlikely name on the scoresheet, smashing home at the culmination of a flowing counter-attack.
But when questioned whether he was satisfied with the result, Howe said: “I don’t know. If you’d have asked me after 2o minutes I’d have done anything for that point. And then ask me after 90, or 95, maybe not so happy because I think we obviously had a big chance to win that game at the end.
“But I’m really pleased the fighting characteristics of the team were back, we haven’t come back from losing positions enough this season and that was our hallmark from the season before. So to do that today, in this type of game, it was a great sign.”
Wilson was even presented with a chance to snatch all three points for Cherries with just minutes remaining of the clash, but the ex-Coventry frontman could only fire his effort straight at Southampton shot stopper Angus Gunn.
Howe added: “It’s one of those things. He’s played well today, he’s been a real threat and has looked physically good. He took his goals well and when he goes through you think it’s a great chance for his hat-trick, but it wasn’t to be.
The Cherries boss was also quick to praise his side’s determination and character:
“The main thing is the team’s fighting spirit, determination and the pride to wear the badge today was all evident.
“It was a difficult game for us, because again we picked up two injuries today. During the game we had players playing out of position slightly, and a disjointed shape, so the players had to dig really deep and I’m pleased they did.”
In the aftermath of Cherries’ first goal, centre-half Chris Mepham was a surprise withdrawal after a tactical reshuffle from the visitors which resulted in substitute Ryan Fraser instead being introduced.
Howe said: “There was a tactical switch after the goal, I think we needed to.
“We weren’t where we wanted to be in the match. We were finding it difficult to find out control of the ball. I think that enabled us to do it.
“At half-time, Southampton changed their system again and caused us a problem. We then had to change again, so there was a constant ebb and flow. It was hard work.”