CHRIS Mepham's late, late strike rescued a point for Cherries to preserve their unbeaten start with a 1-1 draw against Watford.

Stipe Perica's early effort looked like it would be enough to settle the contest after he turned in from Ismaila Sarr's low cross.

But Cherries kept battling and grabbed a leveller, with Mepham turning in from close-range deep into second-half stoppage time to continue Jason Tindall's unbeaten start to life as a Championship boss, now with seven games gone.

Tindall rang the changes following Wednesday night’s draw at Cardiff. There were four alterations in all, the most notable of which saw striker Joshua King come in for his first start of the season. Lloyd Kelly also returned after a month out with a hamstring injury, while Lewis Cook and Philip Billing earned recalls to the midfield.

Solanke, Junior Stanislas and Dan Gosling all dropped to the bench, while Adam Smith missed out due to a knee injury picked up against the Bluebirds. There was still no David Brooks nor Cameron Carter-Vickers in the matchday squad.

As for Watford, their key change saw Perica preferred up front to the club’s leading scorer this season Joao Pedro.

Kelly’s return to the side was almost a short-lived one. With just two minutes on the clock, the defender lunged in to a challenge on dangerous Sarr as he looked to break, his studs catching the knee of the winger.

Referee Tim Robinson brandished a yellow card only, but replays suggested Kelly was fortunate to escape a red.

After treatment recovering from treatment, Sarr quickly began to show why he was being touted for a Premier League summer switch. The Senegal international almost picked out strike partner Perica, shortly before the pair did combine for the game’s opening goal.

With just over 10 minutes on the clock, Craig Cathcart sprayed a pass out to Sarr, who took a touch and delivered low for Perica to slide in and notch his first goal since joining the Hornets over the summer.

Watford’s strike meant Cherries found themselves behind in a league game for the first time this season.

Things quickly went from bad to worse when key midfielder Jefferson Lerma was forced off with what appeared to be a hamstring injury. He was replaced by Solanke, as Tindall opted to switch to a 3-4-3 formation.

The change appeared to have the desired effect as Cherries improved with King and Danjuma causing problems around the box, but goalkeeper Foster remained untested.

That was until Solanke let fly from just outside the box, but Foster was well placed to hold. Solanke had two more efforts before the half was out with one blocked and the other comfortable for Foster.

Billing was penalised for two fouls towards the end of the half, including an elbow on Perica, but he did not go into the referee’s book as Watford held onto their lead going into the break.

The hosts got off to a bright start after the restart. Half-time substitute Etienne Capoue threaded the ball through for Sarr, who raced clear but his shot was expertly saved by the strong hand of Asmir Begovic.

At the other end, Billing flashed a shot wide of the post before Solanke teed up King, whose powerful effort also just missed the target.

Solanke then had a go himself with his left-footed effort from just outside the box parried away by Foster.

Cherries were looking brighter, but unable to make the breakthrough so Tindall turned to his bench as the game entered its final 20 minutes with Stanislas replacing Danjuma.

But it was a Watford sub who almost found the net. Domingos Quina slipped away from two challenges before trying his luck, with his swerving effort turned behind via the arm of Begovic.

Tindall introduced Rodrigo Riquelme for the final five minutes, before again Quina tested Begovic, with his strike almost catching Begovic out, but the Bosnian did just about enough.

Cherries rallied in seven minutes of added time, with a King header pushed over the bar by Foster.

And from the resulting set pieces, the ball fell for Kelly to volley goalwards, where Mepham was on hand to turn in and rescue a point.

Cherries: Begovic; Mepham, S Cook, Kelly; Stacey, Lerma (Solanke, 18), L Cook, Billing, Rico (Riquelme, 85); Danjuma (Stanislas, 73), King.

Unused subs: Simpson, Gosling, Surridge, Travers (g/k).

Booked: Kelly, Rico.

Watford: Foster; Cathcart, Troost-Ekong, Kabasele; Ngakia, Garner (Capoue, h-t), Chalobah, Cleverley (Quina, 64), Sema; Sarr, Perica (Pedro, 82).

Unused subs: Wilmot, Sierralta, Murray, Bachmann (g/k).

Booked: Garner, Cleverley.

Referee: Tim Robinson.