FULL TIME: Wanderers 2 Bournemouth 2
WANDERERS blew a chance to ease the pressure on manager Dougie Freedman with yet another frustrating draw at the Reebok.
The Whites raced into a first-half lead through Chung-Yong Lee – the Korean’s first strike since January last year – before Lukas Jutkiewicz doubled the advantage with an excellent lob half an hour in.
But the nerves set in once Lewis Grabban halved the deficit just 60 seconds later and Bournemouth were well worth the point they earned through Simon Francis’s near-post header.
It was the Whites’ 11th draw of the campaign and their ninth at home – but the annoyance of the home crowd was clear at the final whistle as jeers rang out once again.
Wanderers seized the lead 20 minutes in but they had ridden their luck to that point.
Harry Arter fired a shot narrowly wide with less than two minutes on the clock before Andrew Surman mis-kicked from close range from Simon Francis’s low cross.
Dougie Freedman had seemingly performed a U-turn on the goalkeeping front prior to kick-off, dropping Andy Lonergan just 24 hours after indicating that he would retain him as his number one.
Adam Bogdan, in for his first start since October, made a terrific save to deny Grabban after he had stolen in on goal from Ritchie’s excellent pass.
Wanderers had played some neat stuff of their own but went ahead with their first meaningful chance as Chung-Yong was played in brilliantly by Mark Davies, keeping his nerve to slot into the top corner.
Ten minutes later that lead was doubled with another gem – this time Zat Knight produced a fine piece of control to pick the ball out of the air and deliver a perfect pass over the top for Lukas Jutkiewicz, who controlled with his chest and then drifted a volley over the stranded Lee Camp.
That prompted an immediate response from the visitors as Lewis Grabban pulled a goal back out of thin air with a sublime shot from 25 yards that left Bogdan with no chance.
Wanderers remained on the back foot for the rest of the half but for all Bournemouth’s possession, they didn’t seriously test Bogdan again before the break.
The game remained finely poised as both sides exchanged chances in the second half.
Arter flashed a volley inches wide of Bogdan’s right-hand post before Chris Eagles fired into the side netting for Wanderers.
Dougie Freedman tried to shore things up by bringing Medo Kamara on from the bench to replace Mark Davies – but no sooner had he done so, Marc Pugh headed against the base of the post from Ian Harte’s corner.
A few moments later, and it was another set piece from Harte that brought about the equaliser, with Francis’s near post header squirming under the legs of Bogdan.
It was the full-back’s first goal since October 2012 – and the least the Cherries deserved for dominating the last half hour of play.
The Hungarian redeemed himself slightly with a full length save to prevent Yann Kermorgant his third goal in three games against Wanderers, shortly after the Frenchman’s arrival as a substitute.
At this point the Whites were at sixes and sevens – and Bogdan made another crucial block from sub Tokelo Rantie with 10 minutes left on the clock to keep the scores level as he raced on to Kermorgant’s through ball.
There were chants of “Freedman out” and “Gartside out” from small sections of the crowd in the final stages but they subsided as Wanderers finally exerted some pressure in the last few minutes.
A few late corners sparked hope of a winner but it never arrived and Wanderers were left clutching a point they could easily have lost in the end.