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First team

Lions roar back to earn a point


AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Substitute Matt Smith came off the bench to score with his first touch as Millwall fought back to earn a share of the spoils from a 1-1 draw at Vitality Stadium.

Smith poked home from close range after the Cherries defence had failed to deal with a free-kick which had been hoisted into their 18-yard box 11 minutes from time.

It was a dagger through the heart for the hosts after Dominic Solanke’s tenth goal of the season had put them on course to return to second place in the Championship.

The hosts made a bright start and David Brooks went close to drawing first blood, only to be denied by a fine reaction save from Bartosz Bialkowski after just three minutes.

However, despite their territorial advantage, Tindall’s team were indebted to Asmir Begovic for blocking Jed Wallace’s effort after Millwall’s top marksman had gone clear on goal.

Solanke registered his tenth goal of a productive season when he finished with aplomb and accuracy after being teed up by Junior Stanislas in added time at the end of the first half.

But the Lions roared back and salvaged a point thanks to Smith’s effort towards the end of the second half.

Brooks came in for Sam Surridge as boss Tindall made one change from the Cherries’ last Championship game, a 1-0 win at Stoke ten days ago.

The visitors were skippered by Alex Pearce, who had a loan spell at Vitality Stadium from Reading in 2007, and also included former Cherries defender Scott Malone.

Brooks fashioned the first shooting chance when he burst into the box after three minutes, his resultant effort parried past the post by Bialkowski.

The Cherries cleared Malone’s seventh-minute corner before Begovic saved bravely at the feet of Kenneth Zohore after the Lions had recycled the loose ball.

Shaun Hutchinson’s header caught out Bialkowski as it bounced past the upright, although Diego Rico’s subsequent corner came to nothing.

A sweeping move from the Cherries, started inside their own six-yard box, almost yielded dividends after 11 minutes.

But after Brooks had fed Solanke and the striker had teed up Junior Stanislas, his goalbound effort was heroically blocked by Lions captain Pearce.

Despite all their early possession, the Cherries were thankful to Begovic for making a crucial save midway through the first half.

Wallace fastened on to a pass from Ryan Woods and rode Jack Simpson’s challenge before bearing down on goal.

But having reached the edge of the 18-yard box and taken aim, the Lions leading goalscorer was thwarted as Begovic stood tall to keep out his effort.

From the resultant corner taken by Malone, Ryan Leonard’s shot clipped Simpson and flew past the upright.

And after Jake Cooper had met Malone’s next corner, the Cherries were indebted to Jefferson Lerma for nodding his header off the line.

Begovic was quickly off his line to beat Troy Parrott to Dan McNamara’s through ball as the Lions saw more of the ball in the latter stages of the first half.

And as the visitors continued to threaten, Wallace’s free-kick was saved low down by Begovic before Malone scooped the rebound past the post.  

As the first half drew to a close, McNamara’s stinging drive was blocked by Rico before Leonard’s pot-shot was gathered by Begovic.

Solanke broke the deadlock when he finished emphatically from a tight angle, drilling a left-foot shot between Bialkowski and his near post after latching on to Stanislas’s pass in added time at the end of the first half.

Adam Smith made a timely interception after Millwall had mounted a dangerous counter-attack early in the second half.

The Cherries defender was on hand to nip in ahead of Parrott after McNamara’s cross from the right had sought out the Lions midfielder.

Chances were few and far between during the early stages of an often cagey second period as the two teams defended resolutely.

Leonard was booked for a foul on Stanislas after 68 minutes, the winger unable to continue following a spell of treatment and replaced by Philip Billing.

Solanke just failed to get on the end of Smith’s ball over the top before Steve Cook charged down a shot from Malone.

The Cherries had a let-off when Zohore’s 73rd-minute free-kick, a decision disputed by the hosts, came back off the base of Begovic’s left-hand post.

However, there was no reprieve for the hosts when substitute Matt Smith levelled just seconds after coming off the bench.

Smith turned the ball home from close range after Cooper had outjumped the Cherries defence to flick on a free-kick from the halfway line.

Bialkowski saved from Brooks after Solanke had found his team-mate with appeals for a penalty falling on deaf ears after the midfielder had gone to ground having got his shot away.

Joshua King's rasping effort flashed past the post late on before four minutes of added time failed to yield a winner for either team. 

AFC Bournemouth: Begovic, Rico (Stacey, 87), Kelly, Simpson, S Cook, Smith, L Cook, Lerma (Riquelme, 83), Stanislas (Billing, 70), Solanke, Brooks (King, 83). Unused subs: Carter-Vickers, Kilkenny, Anthony, Surridge, Dennis (g/k).

Booked: Lerma.

Millwall: Bialkowski, Hutchinson, Pearce (M Smith, 78), Cooper, McNamara, Woods, Leonard, Malone, Wallace (Thompson, 85), Zohore (Bennett, 78), Parrott (Bodvarsson, 78). Unused subs: Romeo, Bradshaw, Williams, Ferguson, Fielding (g/k).

Booked: Cooper, Leonard.

Referee: Tim Robinson.

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