CHERRIES maintained their 10-year unbeaten record on New Year’s Day against a Brighton side who were the last team to beat them on that date.

Callum Wilson’s scruffy late effort meant Cherries earned a 2-2 draw and moved three points clear of the Premier League drop zone following a madcap encounter.

Anthony Knockaert gave the hosts a dream start but former Albion defender Steve Cook headed an equaliser from Jordon Ibe’s corner.

Ex-Cherries frontman Glenn Murray restored the Albion lead early in the second half but Wilson poked home 11 minutes from time following an almighty scramble in the box.

The visitors also had Asmir Begovic to thank for a string of terrific saves which kept them in the contest at the Amex.

Cherries boss Eddie Howe made four changes to the starting line up which had seen off Everton on Saturday.

Nathan Ake dropped to the bench following a groin complaint, with Charlie Daniels recalled at left-back as part of a defensive reshuffle.

Marc Pugh and Benik Afobe came in for Ryan Fraser and Joshua King, respectively, both replaced players suffering with hamstring problems.

Harry Arter supplanted Dan Gosling in the middle of the park, while 20-year-old midfielder Matt Butcher – who spent last season on loan to League Two Yeovil Town – was chosen on the bench.

Brighton manager Chris Hughton made three changes with Ezequiel Schelotto, Markus Suttner and Jose Izquierdo in for Bruno, Gaetan Bong and Solly March.

Cherries made a disastrous start when they fell behind with fewer than five minutes played. Shane Duffy’s raking pass picked out Suttner on the left and the ball went through Pascal Gross to Izquierdo, who played across goal, Knockaert tucking away from an acute angle.

The visitors were rocking and it took a desperate challenge from Arter to stop Knockaert from hurtling dangerously into the box.

Full of confidence, Izquierdo checked inside and sent a rasping drive past the far post with Begovic at full stretch.

Cherries created their first chance in the 12th minute. Charlie Daniels delivered low into the box from the left and Wilson took his shot first time, only to drag wide.

Simon Francis charged down from Murray and moments later Shane Duffy’s header was thumped away from inside the six-yard box by Pugh.

Arter appealed for a penalty when his effort hit the arm of the sliding Knockaert but referee Michael Oliver was unmoved, replays showing contact had been made on the edge of the box.

The visitors were allowing their opponents far too much time on the ball in attacking areas and after Gross released Murray in the box, the frontman’s effort was superbly palmed to safety by Begovic.

Ibe attempted to turn the tide just after the hour mark but Maty Ryan blocked the sizzling strike.

Howe’s men had cranked up the pressure and Steve Cook went perilously close to an equaliser, his goal-bound header from Lewis Cook’s corner flicked behind by Suttner.

Brighton did not heed the warning. From the resultant corner, Ibe’s outswinging delivery found Steve Cook and the defender’s looping header clipped the underside of the bar on its way in.

Still Cherries pressed and the hosts appeared fortunate not to concede a penalty when Duffy seemed to bring down Wilson but whistler Oliver allowed play to continue.

Daniels stung the palms of Ryan after being teed up from a free-kick and Wilson then chested down Pugh’s cross but failed to generate the required power as he stretched for the ball.

Brighton nearly dealt a sucker punch two minutes before the break but were denied by the brilliant Begovic. Murray found Gross and his low pass was met by Izquierdo, Begovic keeping the ball out of the net with his leg.

There was still time for one more golden chance. Lewis Cook left Davy Propper in the dust on the left wing and his low centre drifted all the way to Pugh, whose powerful effort was too close to Ryan.

Cherries’ hard work was undone fewer than three minutes after the restart. Francis surrendered possession cheaply down the left and Gross released Izquierdo, the Colombian’s low cross finding Murray who had time to control and pick his spot.

Ibe led the visitors’ fightback but he could only find the chest of Ryan from a tight angle in the box, Duffy blocking from the same man moments later.

Begovic saved well from Knockaert before Steve Cook came to the rescue with a couple of crucial blocks, the second from Gross particularly crucial.

Close calls continued to rack up and Duffy thumped into the chest of Smith in a frantic moment in the penalty area.

After Francis swung in a cross at the other end, Wilson felt he should have had a penalty for a shove in the back but Ezequiel Schelotto was not penalised.

Within seconds of defending a corner, Brighton should have had a third. Izquierdo raced clear from virtually the edge of his own box and nobody could catch him, another wonderful save from Begovic preventing further damage.

Izquierdo fired over the top and Ibe – a positive influence throughout – went within a whisker of an equaliser at the other end, his daisy-cutter hitting the post, bouncing off Ryan and behind for a corner.

Lewis Cook blasted over the top before Cherries got an equaliser in the scruffiest of circumstances.

Moments after the visitors appealed for a Lewis Dunk handball in the box, Smith charged down a Duffy clearance and the ball dropped kindly for Wilson to stab home from close range.

Wilson was soon hunting another and Ryan had to be alert to collect as the hitman went for the near post.

Knockaert nearly grabbed a winner late on but both teams had to be content with a share of the spoils.


Brighton (4-4-1-1): Ryan; Schelotto (Bruno, 77), Duffy, Dunk, Suttner; Knockaert, Stephens, Propper, Izquierdo; Gross (Brown, 88); Murray.

Unused subs: Goldson, Kayal, March, Hemed, Krul (g/k).

Booked: Propper, Murray.

Cherries (4-4-1-1): Begovic; A Smith, Francis, S Cook, Daniels; Ibe, L Cook, Arter (Gosling, 71), Pugh (Ake, 60); Afobe (Mousset, 67); Wilson.

Unused subs: Simpson, Surman, Butcher, Boruc (g/k).

Booked: Francis.

Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland).