Cherries made to settle for Saints point
- Jonathan Moss
All square at Vitality Stadium as the Cherries and Saints play out a 1-1 south-coast draw.
Ryan Fraser opened the scoring just ahead of the break with a beautifully-placed finish, the Cherries leading at the interval after a first half full of attacking verve.
However, Charlie Austin levelled matters with a swept finish on the hour mark and despite both teams gunning for a late winner, neither side was able to seize a victory.
The Cherries rang the changes following the Burnley midweek defeat: Smith, Lewis Cook, Ryan Fraser, Junior Stanislas and Jermain Defoe all starting in the 1.30pm Sunday kick-off.
The two sides shouldered up for early supremacy at a mild and sunny Vitality, Sofiane Boufal probed down the left for the visitors while two Charlie Daniels centres couldn't quite find their targets.
Virgil van Dijk leapt to head a corner narrowly wide 12 minutes in, before Dusan Tadic similarly directed a headed opportunity off target, Saints the first to settle.
The Cherries were within a stunning Fraser Forster save of taking the lead on 20 minutes, Smith unleashing a ferocious half volley that Defoe diverted goalwards, only to see Forster's reactions somehow flicking the ball over the bar.
The resulting corner was worked into the area for Nathan Ake to head on target, the Southampton 'keeper this time able to palm away the effort down low to his right.
Cook fired over from range, the home fans audibly buoyed, though there was a nervier moment at the other end as Jeremy Pied hammered in a drive from 35 yards that Asmir Begovic confidently watched wide.
A moment of real controversy followed a short Bournemouth corner, Smith getting to the ball ahead of a sliding Boufal, who got the man and not the ball - though to the anger of home fans the decision went against Smith who picked up a yellow card that will rule him out of next weekend's trip to Crystal Palace.
Smith flashed a volley over the bar, Bournemouth heading the hunt for an opener ten minutes ahead of the break, an effort that would bear fruit when Fraser coolly netted for the jubilant hosts on 42 minutes.
Wesley Hoedt was caught in possession by Joshua King who played inside to Andrew Surman. The former Southampton midfielder showed great vision over his left shoulder to pick out an onrushing Fraser and the Scot fired first time into the the bottom right-hand corner.
Boufal's action-packed 45 minutes continued as he blazed over a good chance just inside the box, meaning the home side were deservedly ahead as the half-time whistle blew.
Southampton made an attacking change ahead of the restart as Nathan Redmond came on, though it was Boufal who called Begovic into early-second half action as the Bosnian made a good low save.
The Cherries were then within a whisker of a second as Daniels ball in was worked to King, his scuffed shot bounced across the face of goal with the stretching Stanislas just unable to convert at the back post.
The wind remained in home sails, Stanislas seeing his deflected shot palmed away by Forster, though the Southampton threat was evident as a Boufal centre caused panic in the Bournemouth box - Tadic unable to divert home in the defensive scramble.
The danger became an equaliser just after the hour mark, Austin the scorer from close range. Redmond was found by Oriol Romeu and his low centre was converted home by the former Poole Town forward.
Bournemouth were having to weather the visiting storm, with Jordon Ibe and Callum Wilson soon coming off the bench in a home reshuffle.
Boufal saw his shot deflect up and onto the roof of the net, though the hosts were soon regrouping and beginning to get their grip back on possession.
The Cherries came agonisingly close to retaking the lead with under 20 minutes remaining, King turning sharply to get a shot in, parried out by Forster and the ball ricocheted off Wilson just outside the six-yard box but the wrong side of the upright.
Redmond fired wide from 25 yards, the direction of the points still far from uncertain as the game edged towards the closing stages. Austin soon directing a header over Begovic's bar.
Fraser was set clear wide left by a lofted forward pass, squaring for Wilson who saw his shot desperately charged down by a Southampton defender.
Into three minutes of added time, Romeu swerved an effort well over for the visitors. A late Cherries corner allowed Benik Afobe to join the action in place of the excellent Fraser.
Nathan Ake headed over with the last touch of the match, but there was to be no winner at Vitality Stadium.