TEN-MAN Cherries missed the chance to return to the top of the Championship table, conceding twice in the final five minutes to let a two-goal lead slip to draw 2-2 with Coventry City.

Cherries had to be patient at Vitality Stadium, breaking the deadlock on the stroke of half-time through Jaidon Anthony’s fortuitous effort.

Philip Billing doubled the tally, shortly before Jefferson Lerma was sent off for bringing down Matt Godden.

And the Coventry striker gave his side hope, turning in from close range five minutes from time.

Cherries looked like they were about to survive the late barrage, only for Todd Kane’s effort to find its way in in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

Scott Parker made three changes to the side which drew at Millwall on Wednesday night, notably handing a start to captain Steve Cook. It was the centre-back’s first Championship appearance since last season’s play-offs in May, and the first time he had featured for Cherries in any competition since the 6-0 hammering at Norwich City in the Carabao Cup more than three months ago.

Lewis Cook was also recalled, with Billing back from suspension. Leif Davis and Jamal Lowe dropped to the bench, while Gary Cahill missed out through injury.

It also prompted a change in system, with Cherries missing their whole regular back four, meaning Jefferson Lerma dropped in to a back three.

Coventry were also forced into changes, only naming six substitutes with defender Michael Rose sent home after falling ill overnight.

There was a tribute on the big screen and around the ground ahead of kick-off for John Garard, affectionately known as Nonny, who passed away earlier this month.

On the pitch, the game took some time to warm up in chilly conditions on the south coast.

Chris Mepham made an important early block to deny Godden’s near-post flick, while at the other end Lewis Cook’s long-ranger was held by goalkeeper Simon Moore.

Chances were at a premium, and while Cherries were dominating possession, Coventry were defending well to thwart a series of Jack Stacey crosses from the right.

Ben Sheaf and Ryan Christie exchanged speculative efforts, before the deadlock was broken on the stroke of half-time.

With no immediate danger in sight, Anthony whipped a cross towards the back post from the left, which missed everybody on its way through and bounced into the bottom corner.

Cherries created the first opening of the second period. After a patient passing move, Christie’s through ball with the outside of his left boot found Billing in the box. The Dane rounded Moore, but fired into the side netting from a tight angle.

Coventry boss Mark Robins quickly turned to his bench, introducing top scorer Viktor Gyokeres in place of Jamie Allen.

But just a few minutes later, Cherries had doubled their advantage. Anthony was at the heart of it again, crossing from the left towards the far post. This time it was met by Billing to nip in ahead of Moore and volley home from six yards out.

However, the game quickly took another twist. After a poor ball inside by Stacey left Lerma in trouble, the Colombian brought down Godden as he burst through on goal. Referee David Coote instantly went to his pocket, producing the red card to leave the hosts a man light for the final 20 minutes.

Coventry were suddenly on the front foot with Cherries camped in their half. Parker introduced Davis to help shore up the defence, with Christie replaced.

And Cherries almost carved out a third goal. Anthony, now operating from the right, stood up a cross to the back post for Dominic Solanke, whose header was saved by Moore.

And it was to be a nervy final five minutes as Coventry pulled a goal back. Liam Kelly skipped inside Davis before firing across goal. Travers got his hands to the effort, but Godden was there to smash home the rebound, via a touch off Mepham.

Parker introduced an extra defender, Zeno Ibsen Rossi coming on for his first appearance since August.

Coventry threw everything at the hosts, Godden denied by Travers, before the equaliser arrived right at the death.

Kane aimed a ball towards the back post, which lofted over Travers and found its way in to send the vocal visiting support wild.

Cherries: Travers; Mepham, Lerma, S Cook; Stacey, Kilkenny (Ibsen Rossi, 87), L Cook, Anthony (Marcondes, 90+3); Christie (Davis, 79), Billing; Solanke.

Unused subs: Moriah-Welsh, Rogers, Lowe, Nyland (g/k).

Booked: S Cook, Mepham.

Sent off: Lerma.

Coventry: Moore; Dabo, McFadzean, Hyam; Kane, Sheaf (Jones, 85), Kelly, Maatsen (Walker, 90+2); Allen (Gyokeres, 63), O’Hare; Godden.

Unused subs: Shipley, Eccles, Wilson (g/k).

Booked: McFadzean.

Sent off: None.

Referee: David Coote.