Three talking points as Southampton rescued a point against Bournemouth
Charlie Austin’s second-half equaliser ensured honours were even in the south-coast derby between Bournemouth and Southampton at the Vitality Stadium. Austin, who once played non-league football for neighbouring Poole Town, fired home from close range on the hour mark to cancel out Ryan Fraser’s 42nd-minute opener.
A point apiece was a fair reflection of a match neither side managed to dominate for prolonged periods. The Cherries will feel aggrieved not have been awarded a first-half penalty when Adam Smith tumbled over in the box, with referee Jon Moss instead brandishing the Bournemouth defender a yellow card for simulation.
Nevertheless, the result keeps both clubs clear of the relegation zone, with Southampton climbing to 11th in the Premier League table and the Cherries to 14th. Here are three talking points from an absorbing clash.
Austin answers Saints’ goalscoring SOS
Despite their 4-0 thrashing of Everton last weekend, Southampton have struggled in front of goal. But they look a much more threatening outfit when Austin is in their XI. At whatever level he has played, the 28-year-old has always known how to put the ball in the net. The challenge for the Saints has been trying to keep him fit.
Austin’s leveller against Bournemouth underscored his predatory nature. From anywhere in the area he is deadly, as the Cherries found out to their cost. This was Austin’s seventh goal in his last 10 Premier League appearances and one which keeps Southampton on track.
With Manolo Gabbiadini out of favour, Austin has been tasked with leading the line. His physical attributes and aerial ability make him a tricky customer and if his notoriously fragile body can hold up over the winter, then boss Mauricio Pellegrino might have found the answer.
Referee Moss apologises after ‘dive’ call
When Smith went to ground after a challenge from Sofiane Boufal, the awarding of a penalty seemed a formality. But while referee Moss did indeed sound his whistle, he booked the right-back for diving. It was a decision that dumbfounded the Cherries players and their manager Eddie Howe.
Replays showed that Boufal did not get any touch on the ball but did take the man. Perhaps Smith’s theatrical fall counted against him and convinced Moss that he was looking for a penalty. Either way, it was a poor decision and one for which he apologised afterwards.
That was scant consolation to Smith, however, whose fifth yellow card of the season triggered an automatic one-match suspension. Amid talk about VAR, this looked to be a prime example of an incident that would have been reversed upon further inspection.
Bournemouth let slip yet another lead
After a disappointing defeat at home to Burnley four days earlier, Howe was looking for a reaction from his much-changed starting XI. The Bournemouth boss made no fewer than five changes and was rewarded with a more spirited and energetic display.
That said, something that will concern Howe is the Cherries’s failure once again to hold on to a lead. In total, Bournemouth have dropped five points from winning positions this season – that’s second only to West Bromwich Albion. Often it is a lapse in concentration from an individual that is to blame.
Against Southampton, Lewis Cook was dispossessed on the edge of his own area after dwelling on the ball, which sparked the move that resulted in Austin’s equaliser. The England Under-20 World Cup winner was otherwise excellent, but the Premier League is an unforgiving place and such mistakes seldom go unpunished. It is an experience from which he will learn.
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