Striker Matt Tubbs came off the bench to earn the Cherries a well-earned point in an even encounter with Stevenage at the Goldsands Stadium.
Boosted by Brett Pitman’s return on loan and the news Marc Pugh had signed a new long-term deal before kick-off, the hosts were frustrated for long periods after falling behind in the first half.
But Tubbs, introduced at half-time in place of Lee Barnard, cancelled out Greg Tansey’s opener with a header inside the six yard box 16 minutes from time.
The result means Eddie Howe’s team remain four points behind Swindon, who occupy the final play-off spot.
The Cherries had the better of the early stages, and it took a brave block from Steve Arnold to keep out Barnard from close range.
The Boro goalkeeper was also on hand to prevent the hosts opening the scoring when he clawed away Lewis Grabban’s header from 12 yards out a few minutes later.
However, it was Stevenage who took the lead against the run of play. Marcus Haber burst down the right to get free of his marker and teed up Tansey who smashed the ball past David James from the edge of the area.
Howe’s side responded through Charlie Daniels. The full-back sent in a dipping volley from 20-yards after Simon Francis had a cross headed away, but it was aimed straight at Arnold.
The Cherries improved towards the end of the half. Barnard was left frustrated having seen a couple of powerful efforts blocked by Stevenage defenders, but they headed into the break a goal down.
Arter saw a low shot from distance bounce narrowly wide of Arnold’s left-hand post at the start of the second period, while Shaun MacDonald’s header was off target.
With just over 30 minutes left to play, Grabban looked set to put the Cherries back on level terms when he met Pugh’s centre.
But the striker, who scored a hat-trick in the win over Oldham on Saturday, couldn’t poke the ball beyond Arnold at the far post.
As the clocked ticked away, Grabban fired another shot wide and it seemed it was going to take something special for the Cherries to get back into the game.
It wasn’t pretty but they did get themselves back on level terms in the 74th minute. Substitute Tubbs was well placed to nod Grabban’s cross home from inside the six yard box.
Howe’s team piled on the pressure in the closing stages, and captain Miles Addison watched his header bounce agonisingly wide off the mark in front of the Steve Fletcher Stand.
Addison went close with another header, this time seeing it saved by the Boro ‘keeper, while James made his first save of the second half, diving to push away Robbie Rogers' shot.
The fourth official gave the home supporters hope as he signalled four minutes of added time, but they had to settle for a draw after Arnold turned away Grabban’s shot with a fine reflex save and Francis had a last-gasp free-kick deflected wide.
Cherries: James, Francis, Addison, Elphick, Daniels, McQuoid (Fletcher 84), Arter, MacDonald, Pugh, Grabban, Barnard (Tubbs 46).
Unused substitutes: Jalal, Cook, Fogden, McDermott, O’Kane.
Goal: Tubbs (74).
Stevenage: Arnold, Gray, N’Gala, Roberts, Charles, Grant, Akins, Tansey (Shroot 82), Dunne, Hills (Rogers 67), Haber (Agyemang 71).
Unused substitutes: Day, Iro, Commings, Risser.
Goal: Tansey (27).
Attendance: 5, 504 (136 Stevenage supporters).