Bournemouth’s third successive failure from the penalty spot cost them victory at St Mary’s in a match that was low on quality but high on incident.
Ironically, Bournemouth had converted all seven penalties they had been awarded in the Premier League this season – the division’s best record – before Joshua King and Benik Afobe both failed in the 3-2 home win against West Ham three weeks ago. Here, substitute Harry Arter took responsibility in the 79th minute only to hit his shot several feet over the crossbar.
That left the role of Bournemouth hero to be claimed by goalkeeper Artur Boruc against his former club. The Pole played 50 first-team games for Southampton between 2012 and 2015 and was more impressive than a jittery England keeper Fraser Forster, producing one memorable save from Jay Rodriguez.
But it was an unsatisfying game between two mid-table teams and a strange choice for live TV coverage, BT Sport perhaps labouring under the misapprehension that some degree of local rivalry automatically exists between relatively near neighbours – although with 32 miles between their grounds, they are farther apart than, say Manchester City and Burnley, which is nobody’s idea of a derby.
Eddie Howe saw his side miss a third successive penalty (Getty)
The two sets of fans at the Northam End seemed to enjoy taunting each other, but the two clubs have seldom been on each other’s radar for most of the past 50 years or so and the occasion paled in intensity when compared to the earlier events on Merseyside.
Southampton made the better early chances, Dusan Tadic shooting high from 15 yards then half-volleying wide after Rodriguez had nodded the ball down to him. Rodriguez had a goal disallowed for offside and saw an ambitious but accurate shot from an angle saved well at his near post by an alert Boruc.
At the other end, Jack Stephens produced a well-timed tackle when Joshua King threatened to break away on Marc Pugh’s pass down the left, and Dan Gosling shot over the crossbar after Forster’s unconvincing punch had sent the ball to his feet 20 yards out. And when an uncertain Forster was beaten by a lunging effort from former Saint Andrew Surman in a melee following a corner-kick, Southampton captain Steven Davis hooked the ball off the goalline.
Rodriguez was denied on several occasions (Getty)
A goal seemed to be getting closer and it almost arrived for the home side in the 38th minute when Cedric Soares’ low cross from the right came to Tadic, who made himself enough space for a curling left-foot shot, only for the ball to hit the outside of Boruc’s right-hand post.
Nevertheless it seemed to inspire Saints, who went close again twice before the interval. Japan central defender Maya Yoshida glanced a header just past the post from a corner on the right, and Boruc produced a superlative save to deny Rodriguez, flinging his left arm out to push the ball away when the forward’s volley from eight yards seemed already past him at the near post.
And Bournemouth should have taken full advantage on the hour when King won the ball from Yoshida and squared to Benik Afobe. But the hero of the 2-0 home win over Swansea City a fortnight ago rolled the ball past the post.
Afobe should have taken his clear-cut chance (Getty)
Boruc could only punch away a stinging shot from Nathan Redmond and was lucky when James Ward-Prowse put the rebound wide. And he was out smartly to narrow the angle when substitute Shane Long went through, only to send his shot wide.
Next it was Bournemouth’s turn to hit the post. The home defence made a meal of attempting to clear the ball, which eventually found its way to visiting right-back Adam Smith. His low shot was going wide until it hit Yoshida’s instep and was deflected against the foot of an upright.
And, eleven minutes from time, they squandered the best chance of the game. Jack Wilshere, also on as a substitute for King, ran at the defence and slipped a pass through for Ryan Fraser. Yoshida slid in to deflect the ball away, but Fraser fell as he ran into Bertrand. Referee Jon Moss pointed to the penalty spot despite Yoshida’s protests but Arter’s standing foot gave way as he took the kick and the ball was more of a danger to aircraft landing at Southampton airport than the roof of the net.
It was the same spot from which Harry Kane had missed for Tottenham Hotspur in similar fashion in December.
Speaking after the game, manager Eddie Howe expressed his disappointment as Bournemouth’s failure to take all three points but suggested it was still a step in the right direction for his side as they bid to put distance between themselves and the bottom three.
“I don’t know where we go next,” he said. “His [Arter] foot slipped and it’s one of those things. Josh King probably would have taken it but he had gone off.
“More pleasing is that we’re getting those chances. We could have scored two or three against a very good team. You have to be happy with a point here although we could have had three. It edges us closer to where we want to be.”
Southampton: Forster; Soares, Stephens, Yoshida, Bertrand; Romeu; Ward-Prowse (Boufal 63), Davis, Tadic (McQueen 81); Redmond, Rodriguez (Long 63).
Subs not used: Hassen, Clasie, Caceres, Hojbjerg.
Bournemouth: Boruc; A Smith, Francis, Cook, Daniels; Fraser, Gosling, Surman (Arter 46), Pugh; King (Wilshere 70), Afobe.
Subs not used: Allsop, B Smith, Stanislas, Ibe, Cargill.
Referee: J Moss (West Yorkshire)