AFC Bournemouth were knocked off top spot in the Championship this evening as Derby County’s loanees twice equalised at the Goldsands.
Aston Villa’s Darren Bent and Hull City’s Tom Ince were on hand to earn Derby a draw against Bournemouth, as Matt Ritchie and Callum Wilson gave the Cherries the lead in the first half.
Two late goals for Middlesbrough gave them the three points required to leapfrog both Derby and Bournemouth forcing their way to the top of the table.
The Rams started the game brightly, their high pressing line forced Bournemouth into some early mistakes, and winger Tom Ince recorded the first shot on target, though it was not troubling for Artur Boruc in the Bournemouth goal.
Eddie Howe’s men were awarded a comical free kick as Lee Grant’s attempted clearance was taken out of his area with the ball still in his arms. Referee Mark Clattenburg decided no further action should be taken, which upset the majority of the home fans. Yann Kermorgant’s effort cleared the crossbar comfortably.
Bournemouth opened the scoring in great style as Callum Wilson’s cross was chested down neatly by Kermorgant and Matt Ritchie was on hand to dispatch his ninth league goal of the campaign after only twelve minutes.
Steve McClaren was forced to replace top scorer Chris Martin due to a knock, with loanee striker Darren Bent being given the nod to replace their top scorer.
Wilson had a chance to double Bournemouth’s lead, after a Derby mistake pushed him through on goal, but his effort lacked conviction and stumbled wide of the goal.
Substitute Darren Bent called Artur into action, his volley from an intricate Will Hughes dink was well stopped between the sticks by the Polish international.
The Cherries grew increasingly sloppy with their possession, and this lapse cost them the equaliser. Steve Cook failed to clear a Darren Bent charge, who set up Tom Ince on the edge of the area, who confidently took the Bournemouth defenders out of play before slotting his left-foot strike past Boruc.
The crowd’s deflation was mirrored on the pitch, and Bournemouth looked unable to form any meaningful attacks towards the end of the first half.
The home side regained the lead as the half time break approached, through some persistent Cherries pressure.
Kermorgant’s stubborn pursuit of the ball allowed him to regain possession and give Wilson an opportunity on goal. Bournemouth’s top scorer converted in fine fashion into the top corner of Lee Grant’s net.
The second half brought more of the same, with both sides reluctant to attack in large numbers.
AFC Bournemouth skipper Tommy Elphick saved his side from falling behind, as he stood firmly in the way of Ince’s shot.
McClaren introduced Simon Dawkins 20 minutes into the second period, and had an immediate impact on the match.
Dawkins was able to find Bent from the left hand side, who cooly lifted the ball over Boruc from close range, exhibiting his Premier League class.
With Bournemouth twice losing their lead, Wilson was left isolated in attack, as his team mates were called into defensive duties.
The visitors looked likely to take their third goal as they mounted pressure 10 minutes from time.
Cyrus Christie’s cross almost curled straight into Boruc’s goal, with the goalkeeper helplessly watching the ball travel wide.
Eddie Howe would’ve been relieved to hear the full time whistle as his side seemed to be under serious pressure during the final 10 minutes.