LEWIS Grabban took centre stage as Cherries shared the spoils from a feisty showdown with Championship rivals Watford at Dean Court today.
Striker Grabban, who had looked set to complete a move to Brighton during the week, instead penned a new contract with Cherries ahead of kick-off.
The 26-year-old received a rousing cheer from the home crowd when his name was announced by Michael Botto and was in the thick of the action during an incident-packed second half.
Grabban, felled for a 62nd-minute penalty, put Cherries on level terms when he despatched the spot-kick to cancel out Gabriele Angella’s first-half headed opener.
Angella, who had netted twice when the Hornets had put six past Cherries in August, climbed highest to meet a Lewis McGugan free kick in first-half stoppage time.
However, the defender received a straight red card in the lead up to Cherries equalising in the second half, Angella sent off for hauling back Grabban, a decision which television replays clearly showed to have been incorrect.
Grabban, however, wasted a glorious chance to fire Cherries into the lead when he saw a second penalty beaten away by Hornets goalkeeper Manuel Almunia 10 minutes later.
Watford created the first clear opening when McGugan poked wide following a swift break and cross from Cristian Battocchio after 11 minutes.
Marc Pugh’s deflected effort was easily gathered by Hornets goalkeeper Manuel Almunia before Andrew Surman fired wide from the edge of the box.
Chances were few and far between in the early stages, a speculative drive from Matt Ritchie sailing over the crossbar midway through the first half.
Ritchie was then thwarted by Daniel Pudil’s block, the winger taking aim after he had been teed up by a combination of Grabban and Surman, only to see his effort deflected over the crossbar.
Lee Camp had to be on his toes after Battocchio had let fly from distance, the Cherries goalkeeper getting down smartly at his near post to turn his deflected effort past the upright.
Pugh fluffed his lines after he had been put through by Surman’s slide-rule pass, the winger, who appeared slightly off balance, screwing his shot into the Steve Fletcher Stand.
Watford opened the scoring in first-half stoppage time when defender Angella outjumped the Cherries defence to guide a header past Camp after meeting McGugan’s free-kick.
Charlie Daniels worked an opening following a neat one-two with Surman early in the second half, although the defender’s resultant shot was charged down.
Cherries levelled from the spot when Grabban, who had been felled for the penalty, sent Almunia the wrong way to register his 11th goal of the campaign.
And to compound Watford’s misery, defender Angella, the man deemed to have committed the foul, was sent packing after receiving a straight red card.
Buoyed by the goal, Cherries twice went close to taking the lead when efforts by Surman and Daniels both flashed past the post.
Although Cherries were awarded a second penalty when Pugh was sent sprawling, Grabban’s 72nd-minute spot-kick was beaten away by Almunia.
And the Spanish goalkeeper also performed heroics to keep out Eunan O’Kane’s effort after the midfielder had blasted a long-range drive through a crowd of players.
A miraculous saving block by Pudil denied Ritchie a late winner, while substitute Brett Pitman saw his rasping effort just clear the crossbar before a Daniels header went wide at the death.
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