Report by Dan Davis (@dan_davis20) from St Mary’s Stadium
Callum Wilson struck late to salvage a point for AFC Bournemouth in a six-goal thriller with Southampton at St Mary’s.
Southampton had threatened to run riot within the opening 20 minutes, and struck first in the battle of the south coast sides through Shane Long.
But after shaking off a horror start, Cherries conjured an equaliser out of thin air after a breathtaking counter attack, Dan Gosling the unlikely goalscorer. Wilson then plundered the visitors’ second from close range to round off the comeback.
It was Saints who re-emerged from the interval the stronger side, and substitute Matt Targett nodded emphatically into the far corner to restore their slender advantage.
There would still be one last twist in the tale late on, however, as Wilson notched his brace from close range on 85 minutes to rescue a share of the spoils for Cherries.
Boss Eddie Howe opted for two changes to the side that fell to a shock 1-0 home reverse against Fulham last weekend.
In an apparent switch to a five-man defence, former Saints full-back Nathaniel Clyne was handed a start after returning from a hamstring injury.
Youngster Jack Simpson also lined up from the off, despite gifting the Londoners a spot kick from which Aleksandar Mitrovic notched the only goal of the game.
The notable absentee was Ryan Fraser, who instead had to settle for a spot among the substitutes after sustaining an apparent calf injury.
The hosts also sported two changes, recalling former Dean Court favourite Danny Ings and Yan Valery in place of Maya Yoshida and Stuart Armstrong.
With Saints on the cusp of securing their top flight status for another season, the home side came hurtling out of the blocks. In only the second minute, Ings collected possession on the edge of the penalty area and dug out a delicate pass for Nathan Redmond to seize upon. The winger opted to shoot from a tight angle, forcing Simpson to block superbly at the near post.
Cherries then failed to adequately clear their lines from the resultant corner kick, with Jan Bednarek being denied the opener by Ake’s goal-saving intervention on the line.
The hosts continued to carve out chances in the encounter’s early stages. Redmond again eased beyond the attentions of the Bournemouth backline, before he raced towards former Saints shot stopper Artur Boruc. But as Redmond looked to squeeze home an effort from a tight angle, the Pole stood tall to palm the ball wide of goal.
However, Cherries’ feeble resistance would only last two minutes longer. Southampton elegantly pieced together a move flowing from right to left, eventually culminating in Redmond breezing down the flank. The wideman provided an inch-perfect pass for Long, who coolly converted into the bottom-right corner.
On 18 minutes, the hosts were denied a second goal by a matter of inches. Redmond was allowed time and space to chance his arm from 20 yards, and his effort flashed narrowly wide of the far upright with Boruc rooted to the spot.
But after failing to edge further into the lead, Saints’ prolificacy was punished. Cherries transitioned from opposite penalty areas in a manner of seconds, with Joshua King spearheading a lightning counter-attack. The Norwegian then fed through Wilson on the left flank, who in turn provided for Gosling to lash home and round off a scintillating move – the visitors’ first attempt in the encounter.
Then, just moments after the visitors had netted, manager Howe decided to make an early change – hauling off Chris Mepham in place of Fraser and instead settling for a four-man defence.
In the chaos that Cherries’ leveller sparked, Long squandered two guilt-edged chances in quick succession. Firstly, the Irish frontman forced a superb stop from Boruc after pulling the trigger from a matter of yards. As the ball cannoned back towards him, Long took a deft touch and let fly, but could only crack a strike against the woodwork with the goal at his mercy.
The leveller and subsequent tactical reshuffle saw Cherries then emerge as the more dominant force, and on 32 minutes the comeback was complete. Gosling’s attempted pile driver from distance hurtled through a crowd of bodies, forcing Saints gloveman Gunn into a hurried parry back into the danger zone. It was from there that Wilson pounced, smashing emphatically home to hand Cherries the lead and shock the Southampton faithful.
At the restart, Saints manager Ralph Hasenhuttl made his first substitution, with Matt Targett replacing the cautioned Oriol Romeu.
Just moments after, the hosts twice threatened to level the scores. Cherries scrambled a corner kick clear as far as Bertrand, who let fly from just outside the box and watched on as the ball rocketed narrowly over the crossbar. Redmond then attempted a similar form of execution, but could only curl wide of the far post from 2o yards following dogged running from Ings.
Cherries then came close at the other end, Simpson nodding Fraser’s inviting delivery from a corner kick into the side netting.
Goalscorer Gosling then had to be replaced by Emerson Hyndman on 52 minutes, with the ex-Newcastle and Everton midfielder seemingly unable to shake off a knock sustained in the opening stages of the second half.
And soon after the change, Saints found their equaliser. Despite David Brooks lying prostrate on the turf, referee Scott allowed play to continue and Ward-Prowse was teed up on the edge of the penalty area. The midfielder duly drilled home an unerring effort into the far corner.
Momentum swung firmly back in Southampton’s favour, resulting in more chaos just in front of the visitors’ goalmouth. A floated pass over the top of Cherries’ backline looked set to be hacked clear by Simpson, although the centre-half’s clearance was poor. Ings swooped upon the loose ball, but could only prod a weak effort into the grateful clutches of Boruc.
Saints would soon carve out their elusive third goal, though. Full-back Valery’s marauding run down the right touchline resulted in an enticing delivery across the face of goal, and substitute Targett planted a powerful header that deceived both Boruc and Cook before nestling into the back of the net.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s scorching drive from distance then whistled inches wide of the target as the hosts looked to put the result beyond doubt.
With the chase for the encounter’s sixth goal firmly on, Clyne was soon sacrificed in place of Dominic Solanke.
And the attacking switch soon paid spectacular dividends for Cherries. Jefferson Lerma robbed Stuart Armstrong of possession and swept the ball across to King. The striker then fed through Fraser to the left of the penalty area. The Scot delivered a typically unerring low cross, and Wilson bundled forward to tap into the empty net.
The ex-Coventry striker was even presented with a golden opportunity to steal maximum points for Cherries soon after, but his low drive was superbly smothered by Gunn in the end-to-end clash’s final piece of action.
Bournemouth: Boruc, Clyne (Solanke, 72), Mepham (Fraser, 22) , Cook, Simpson, Ake, Gosling (Hyndman, 52), Lerma, Brooks, Wilson, King
Unused substitutes: Begovic, Mousset, Ibe, Surridge