Town came from behind to earn a great point in a difficult away trip to promotion hopefuls AFC Bournemouth this afternoon.
Yann Kermorgant – a man Town manager Chris Powell signed during his spell at Charlton – put the hosts in front with a set-piece goal early in the first-half, but Town showed good organisation and resilience to keep the deficit at one, allowing James Vaughan to equalise with a poacher’s effort in the second 45.
That goal was Vaughan’s third in as many games and fifth in his last 10 games and made the long trip home from the south coast a better one for the travelling faithful.
As you might expect, the Cherries had plenty of possession throughout the first-half - but Town’s players pressed their opponents high up the pitch and forced a few errors during the opening half an hour.
Despite this, Bournemouth still had the first real chance of the game in the 13th minute. Matt Ritchie may line up on the right side, but he constantly drifts infield and it was such a move that earned him space for a stunning curler. Alex Smithies came to the rescue, pushing away the effort at full stretch to his right-hand side.
Sadly, Bournemouth did take the lead three minutes later with a move straight from the training ground. Harry Bunn blocked right back Adam Smith’s run to concede a corner, from which Ritchie rolled the ball low across the face of the area; midfielder Harry Arter ran over the ball, giving Yann Kermorgant the opportunity to shoot through a crowd of players from the edge of the box and into the far corner.
Powell’s men responded well, with Conor Coady and Sean Scannell the driving forces. David Edgar’s low pass found the former in space between the Bournemouth lines and he found Scannell, who laid the ball off to Tommy Smith. The defender – making his 50th League appearance on the afternoon – hasn’t scored a professional goal, but he went awfully close; Artur Boruc just managed to tip his left foot drive around his far post.
Arter shot wide at the other end after robbing Edgar of possession before Butterfield did likewise following more good work from Coady and Scannell.
Ritchie had another go in the 27th minute, forcing Smithies into a low save with another long shot. Bournemouth top scorer Callum Wilson just beat Murray Wallace to the rebound, but could only nudge the ball wide of target from a very difficult angle.
Town’s pressing tempo dropped after the 30 minute mark, allowing Bournemouth to take control of the football. This put a lot of pressure on the back four, but they responded to a man with a series of impressive blocks to keep the score-line at 1-0 going into the interval; the best the home side could do was a glancing header from Wilson that was easy pickings for Alex in goal.
The second-half picked up where the first ended, but Bournemouth couldn’t break down Town’s resilient defence. Instead, it was the Terriers who drew level.
With their first prolonged spell of possession in the second-half, Town worked the ball from the right across to Jack Robinson on the left. He tried to shoot, but dragged his effort – right into James Vaughan’s path, who instinctively diverted it into the goal from close range.
Bournemouth tried to restore their lead and tested the excellent Smithies with several corners that called him into positive action, but it took until the 81st minute to have a shot on target; the Town custodian smartly pushing Arter’s shot over with a strong right hand.
Town threw bodies on the line and kept their shape well to see out the game, with Ishmael Miller’s cameo showing real promise at the other – and drawing several chants from the Town fans.
Town’s team (4-5-1):
Alex Smithies; Jack Robinson, Murray Wallace, Mark Hudson (c), Tommy Smith; Harry Bunn, Jacob Butterfield (Jonathan Hogg, 88), David Edgar, Conor Coady, Sean Scannell; James Vaughan (Ishmael Miller, 84)
Joe Murphy, Joe Lolley, Nahki Wells, Oscar Gobern, Joe Wright