EDDIE Howe admitted Matt Ritchie’s incredible late equaliser against Cherries would hurt for some time – and the Dorset club lost the star with a “very heavy heart”.

Ritchie, who joined Newcastle from Cherries for £12million in the summer of 2016, unleashed a thunderous half-volley to snatch a point at the death at Vitality Stadium.

The second-half stoppage-time strike prevented Howe’s side from reaching the cherished 40-point mark after Joshua King’s brace countered Salomon Rondon’s glorious free-kick.

The Cherries boss said the result had been difficult to take.

Howe told the Daily Echo: “I certainly will not be forgetting about it quickly because that is the nature of football management. It lingers and it will hurt for a while.

“You have to focus on the positives. There were quite a few from our perspective and then we try to look forward to the next game.”

Ritchie played a crucial role in Cherries’ rise to the Premier League before completing the surprise move to Tyneside and down into the Championship after one season in the top flight.

Discussing the decision to sell the Scotland international, Howe said: “In those situations it is very difficult for me because you have a player that is desperate to leave and join another team.

“How much you fight that and we did our best to convince Matty to stay but how much you fight that if a player’s mind is made up and you keep an unhappy player and everything that goes with that. I didn’t think, at the time, we had any alternative.

“We lost Matty with a very heavy heart. We knew exactly the qualities he had and how well he had done for us but it is football and players come and go and change but you never forget what they did for you. Our memories from Matty, even though Saturday happened, are still very positive.”

Quizzed on whether he would handle a situation like Ritchie’s departure differently, Howe said: “It depends because if a player wants to go but there is no club that wants to sign him he is not going to leave.

“If a player is desperate to go and a club are willing to pay substantial money for that player then you are put in a position where you can make the decision to keep an unhappy player but rarely, in my experience, does that work.

“Of course, it has to be right for the club and the figure the other team has to pay has to be right for the club. On this occasion it was.”

Assessing the result, Howe added: “It was a difficult one for us to take because it wasn’t the perfect game from us.

“We found the first half quite difficult but it was a much-improved second-half display. Until we went 2-1 up we were the dominant team. Naturally, Newcastle came on late and put on pressure but it looked like we defended really well at times and we were going to see the game out until the ball fell to Matty’s left foot.”