CHERRIES fought and scrapped their way to a scintillating 0-0 draw with unbeaten Tottenham Hotspur at Vitality Stadium this lunchtime.

Against a side who hit them for eight goals in two games last season, Eddie Howe’s side delivered a disciplined, concentrated performance, worthy of the point it earned them.

By stark contrast to the stalemate served up by Liverpool and Manchester United at the start of the week, this was a scoreless contest that would have had the watching TV audience on the edge of their seats.

These two dynamic sides were both expected to fly from the traps – and they did just that. Eric Dier, at full stretch, prevented Jack Wilshere’s threaded pass from releasing Callum Wilson, before Son Heung-min was narrowly offside when the Korean was picked out in acres of space by Dele Alli.

Spurs, renowned for their fierce pressing style under Mauricio Pochettino, were being given the hurry-up by Cherries’ lightning start. And it was the home team who had the game’s first clear-cut opportunity.

Wilshere rolled a right-wing corner to Dan Gosling in the box. The midfielder, a battlefield promotion after Andrew Surman was taken ill during the warm-up, helped the ball on into middle for Charlie Daniels. Scorer of an early goal against Hull last week, the left back directed the ball goalwards only to be denied by a combination of Hugo Lloris’s legs and the crossbar.

Wilson had a shot deflected wide by Jan Vertonghen as Cherries continued to drive forward, with Jordon Ibe’s resultant corner being hacked behind by Victor Wanyama.

But the visitors’ array of attacking talent is permanently poised to strike. They so nearly did when Alli popped the ball through Harry Arter’s legs and glided away from Gosling in the middle of the park. Erik Lamela took over to send an arcing 25-yard shot against the frame of Artur Boruc’s goal.

The pace was unrelenting. Lamela went into the book for upending Adam Smith, before Arter brought Vitality Stadium to its feet with a terrific challenge high up the pitch on the dithering Wanyama.

Cherries’ number one Boruc was first called into action on 28 minutes. Wilshere, on the edge of his own box, had his pocket picked by Wanyama. The Kenyan fed Eriksen, whose shot deflected off Arter on its way to forcing the 36-year-old keeper to claw out from inside his left-hand post.

The hosts’ intensity, inevitably, was dropping a fraction. And with a split-second more on the ball, Pochettino’s team was gradually imposing itself on proceedings. Lamela collected Danny Rose’s searching cross-field ball and wrestled free of Daniels to cross. Simon Francis came to Cherries’ rescue, however, the skipper smuggling the ball away from the toes of Alli.

Rose then dragged a shot across goal from Son’s cut-back, before the already carded Lamela had the home crowd baying for blood when his clumsy challenge grounded Gosling. Referee Craig Pawson kept his card in his pocket on that occasion, but Rose’s crude tackle on Joshua King, starting in place of the injured Junior Stanislas, saw the England international become the fourth Tottenham man to have his name taken.

Wilson was twice off-target in first-half stoppage time; the striker first heading Wilshere’s lofted right-wing cross marginally wide of Lloris’s left upright and then prodding Ibe’s delivery from the opposite flank past the near post.

Boruc was the first of the two keepers to be tested following the break, the Pole plunging to his right to push away Alli’s 25-yard effort.

At the other end Dier got just enough of his head on King’s cute cross to take it out of the waiting Wilson’s reach.

The contest was toing and froing at some rate. Wanyama picked up the pieces after Smith’s perfectly timed tackle on Alli to slip in Lamela for a strike the Argentine directed high and wide of the near post.

With Spurs firmly in the ascendancy Howe replaced the tiring Ibe with Max Gradel. But Cherries, by now, were digging a trench. The magnificent Arter threw himself in front of Son’s powerful low effort, before Boruc comfortably pouched Lamela’s hard hit right sided free-kick.

Steve Cook then got his timing spot on when the centre back slid in to stop Vincent Janssen, on for Son, from racing through on goal.

The visitors were progressively probing down the centre of the pitch. Dembele rattled a pass into Jannsen, who went through Lamela to substitute Moussa Sissoko on the right. The ex-Newcastle man drilled a cross to the far post, where Rose arrived to guide an effort on goal that Boruc dropped sharply to his right to hold.

Then, from nowhere, a competitive game spilled over into something more sinister. Sissoko responded to Arter’s latest thumping challenge by flinging an elbow into the Irish international’s face. Arter hit the deck, beating the turf in agony, but neither referee Pawson nor his assistant saw enough to even caution the Tottenham player.

More questions were being asked of the man in the middle when Wilshere galloped onto substitute Benik Afobe’s knockdown and went over under Wanyama’s tackle in the box. While the home crowd beseeched the official to point to the spot, Vertonghen flew in on Gradel to deny the Cherries man a shooting opportunity.

Smith kept the game goalless in the final minute with a brilliant block after Lamela had latched onto Eriksen’s return pass to drive at goal.

Then Cherries countered. Gradel’s hesitancy allowed Dembele to recover and see out the danger. But when the subsequent corner was eventually recycled out to Francis on the right the defender delivered a cross that Afobe sent looping onto the roof of the net.

Tottenham might have considered it rough justice had the forward’s effort found the net. But today at Vitality Stadium, Cherries’ opponents, with designs on winning the Premier League, met their match.


Cherries (4-4-1-1): Boruc; Smith, Francis, Cook, Daniels; King (Fraser 87), Gosling, Arter, Ibe (Gradel 60); Wilshere; Wilson (Afobe 82).

Unused subs: Ake, Mings, Mousset, Federici (g/k).

Bookings: Gosling, Gradel.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-1-4-1): Lloris; Walker, Dier, Vertonghen, Rose; Wanyama; Eriksen, Ali (Sissoko 72), Dembele, Lamela; Son (Janssen 62).

Unused subs: Trippier, Wimmer, Winks, Davies, Vorm (g/k) .

Bookings: Lamela, Vertonghen, Alli, Rose.

Referee: Craig Pawson (South Yorkshire).

Attendance: 11,201.