Report: Bournemouth 1 Albion 1A wonder-strike from Ashley Barnes earned Albion a point and extended the side’s unbeaten run to six games.
With the Seagulls having fallen behind to Matt Ritchie’s first-half free-kick, the striker crashed home an unstoppable 55th minute shot on the turn for his third league goal of the campaign.
A definite front-runner for Albion Goal of the Season, the effort was just reward for Barnes’s endeavour as the visitors were made to work hard for their point.
In contrast to the constant noise made from the large travelling contingent, the game got off to a quiet start as both sides struggled to get a foothold in the game.
Craig Conway sent an in-swinging ball into the box which Barnes narrowly failed to connect with, while at the other end Brett Pitman’s speculative overhead kick was comfortably saved by Tomasz Kuszczak.
The game finally came to life in the 25th minute when Inigo Calderon’s drilled cross came back to him but the Spaniard, in for suspended compatriot Bruno, fired over from close range on his weaker left foot.
Barnes tested Cherries keeper Lee Camp from an acute angle moments later but just as Albion started to get on top, the hosts took the lead.
Jake Forster-Caskey was adjudged to have fouled Ritchie on the edge of the box and the Cherries midfielder dusted himself down to drill home Charlie Daniels’ short free-kick with almost half an hour on the clock.
The goal lifted the hosts and Ritchie almost doubled his account a couple of minutes later when he met Ryan Fraser’s cross at the far post, but Kuszczak was equal to the effort with a great one-handed reaction save.
Fraser also tried his luck from distance in a frenetic spell for the hosts, while another left-foot free-kick from Ritchie deflected inches wide as the half came to a close.
Liam Bridcutt replaced Forster-Caskey at half-time but it was Bournemouth who had another chance to extend their lead after the re-start when Ritchie’s slide-rule pass fell to Brett Pitman, but Kuszczak was quick off his line to smother the ball.
The game was temporarily halted when Andrew Crofts and Eunan O’Kane clashed heads, leaving the Albion man sporting a black eye, but the pain quickly eased thanks to Barnes’s equaliser.
Picking up Calderon’s throw inside the box with his back to goal, the striker took two touches before unleashing a ferocious left-foot drive on the turn that gave Camp no chance.
Andrea Orlandi made his return to action after injury, replacing David Lopez, while Keith Andrews came on for Rohan Ince – highlighting the strength in midfield numbers now the injury problems have eased.
Bridcutt had quickly got into his stride and some fine play released Conway down the left flank. The Cardiff loanee then showed great feet to flash a low ball across the face of goal but neither Barnes nor Orlandi could get on the end of.
A Ritchie volley was touched wide for a corner by Kuszczak while Barnes fired over following good work from Ward, as both sides searched for the winner.
Matthew Upson put in a fine challenge to block Bournemouth sub Wes Thomas, who had latched on to another Ritchie pass, but both sides had to be content with a point.