Bournemouth’s Harry Arter left to regret penalty miss in Southampton stalemate
The emphasis in training on Monday for Bournemouth will almost certainly be on penalties. More anguish from 12 yards prevented Bournemouth from claiming their first win at Southampton after Harry Arter missed the decisive spot-kick in a match where they were often second best. It was Bournemouth’s 10th penalty of the season – no team have won more in the top flight – but they have now, remarkably, missed their last three.
These teams started the day level on points and finished it in the same manner, following a spirited but ultimately profligate display from both sides.
This is a south coast derby – geographically at least – and a match-up that is slowly blossoming on the Premier League stage. A stormy evening, where dark grey clouds hovered overhead, was the perfect backdrop given results elsewhere seemingly dragging both teams back towards the relegation zone come kick-off.
After eight weeks away from St Mary’s, Southampton settled quickly while Bournemouth were far from their fluid selves.
Jay Rodriguez led the line in the absence of Manolo Gabbiadini, ruled out with a groin injury, while Maya Yoshida started in defence despite travelling more than 14,000 miles over the international break with Japan. Bournemouth, meanwhile, were unchanged after back-to-back wins but appeared a little jaded despite a five-day Dubai training camp.
Dusan Tadic also kept his place despite his manager, Claude Puel, accusing the midfielder of showing him a lack of respect last week, after publicly voicing his frustration about being continually substituted. They had words and they seemed to have the desired effect, with the Serb a menace throughout here. He was heavily involved in all of Southampton’s good work; ghosting in behind Dan Gosling and Andrew Surman time and again to link well with Rodriguez and he sent a bending effort at goal that struck the post before half-time.
Rodriguez, who scored twice in this fixture in December, was again a nuisance and forced Artur Boruc, back at St Mary’s for the first time since May 2014, into a fine save from a powerful volley.
Bournemouth, although on the back foot for much of this contest, almost took the lead when Surman got the faintest of touches – quite possibly his big toe – on the ball after it dropped in the box from Ryan Fraser’s corner. Fraser Forster made a mess of it and Steven Davis cleared off the line.
This was only Southampton’s fourth match in 49 days and it showed, with Bournemouth made to look lethargic. If Bournemouth were lacking their usual zip then the introduction of Harry Arter 60 seconds into the second half seemed sensible.
March proved magnificent for Bournemouth – with Howe picking up the manager of the month award – and he had no intentions of allowing his team to begin April with a whimper. But Southampton set and controlled the tempo, with Bournemouth made to soak large spells of pressure.
In doing so they waited patiently for an opening to present itself although when it did, after 61 minutes, Benik Afobe failed to pounce. Yoshida lost the ball on the edge of the box, inviting Joshua King forwards, who laid the ball on a plate for Afobe. But with only Forster to beat, the Bournemouth striker shot low and wide. Howe almost fell to the floor.
Before he had time to recover, Southampton poured forward, with the substitute Shane Long this time guilty of firing wide after more invention from Tadic. Howe recognised one creative spark would change the game and looked to Jack Wilshere from the bench. It was Fraser who took the immediate initiative. The winger jinked into the box, with Southampton reluctant to challenge his dainty footwork. But when Oriol Romeu eventually cleared, the ball fell at the feet of Adam Smith who let fly from distance. His effort struck the post before a scramble – with Marc Pugh at the heart of it – ensuing. Southampton would survive although Bournemouth’s best opportunity was still to come.
Wilshere threaded the ball through for Fraser, amid little danger but Ryan Bertrand was deemed to have upended the midfielder inside the box by the referee Jonathan Moss.
With King departed and Afobe having missed from the spot against West Ham United, the onus was on Arter to convert from 12 yards. But he blazed high into the Northam Stand, much to the delight of the home supporters.
Arter attempted to redeem himself from distance soon after but only one chance will stay with him from this contest.