THERE was a big feeling that Cherries missed an opportunity against West Ham on Saturday afternoon – in more than one sense.

Having trailed to an Andriy Yarmolenko strike, the hosts roared back in an absorbing contest at Vitality Stadium, levelling through Joshua King before Callum Wilson put his side in front less than 30 seconds into the second half. 

Looking to put a seal on a third straight top-flight victory, Nathan Ake had a goal ruled out before Wilson went through one-on-one with substitute goalkeeper Roberto. But he could not apply the finish. And his miss proved costly as the Hammers broke down the other end to level up at 2-2 a matter minutes later to take a share of the spoils through Aaron Cresswell’s deflected strike.

The win would have lifted Cherries into the top four of the Premier League. Instead they remain a point behind the Hammers, ruing the feeling that two points had slipped away.

Eddie Howe named an unchanged XI from the team which beat Southampton in the previous Premier League fixture as he sought a third straight top-flight win for the first time in over a year.

But there were changes among the substitutes. Arnaut Danjuma was included in the Premier League for the first time having made his debut in the Carabao Cup loss at Burton in midweek, while Simon Francis was also involved after injury. Ryan Fraser withdrew on the morning of the game through illness and his place on the bench was taken by Jordon Ibe.

Just a place and a point separated the sides at kick-off, but West Ham dominated possession during the early stages. Pablo Fornals saw a shot blocked by the legs of Nathan Ake before the deadline was broken on 10 minutes. Felipe Anderson floated a deep ball towards Sebastien Haller, who brought the ball out the sky and teed up Yarmolenko to curl in from 14 yards.

But Cherries soon hit back to level the contest, via help from VAR. Eight days on from being denied by an offside flag at Saints, King was not to be stopped for a second time. After a short corner was played out to Diego Rico, the left-back’s floated ball into the box was turned on by Ake for King, who slammed in from close-range.

Assistant referee Constantine Hatzidakis raised his flag, but after a lengthy consultation with VAR, it was ruled that King was in fact being played onside so the goal stood to cue a second celebration in the stands.

West Ham were dealt a further blow just past the half hour mark when goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski was forced off injured, after falling to the floor in pain having made a long clearance. Roberto came in for his Premier League debut.

But the Hammers almost took the lead straight after through a counter-attack, with captain Mark Noble smashing into the side netting.

Four minutes of time were added on at the end of the first half and the visitors piled on late pressure with Fornals denied by a Jack Stacey block and Aaron Ramsdale tipping over from Anderson before Dominic Solanke almost turned into his own net.

However, it was Cherries who flew out of the traps after the restart to get themselves in front. Barely 30 seconds had elapsed before the net rippled as Solanke found King, who slipped a ball through for Callum Wilson to bury into the bottom corner for his seventh goal in seven appearances against the Hammers.

And it looked as though Cherries had moved 3-1 up on 54 minutes. After Billing’s shot was deflected behind, Rico whipped a dangerous corner into the mix for Ake to crash home via a nick off a defender. But the goal was chalked off as Solanke was stood in an offside position.

Trailing by just one, West Ham began to threaten again with Yarmolenko looking dangerous on the right wing, curling a low shot just wide before delivering a cross for Anderson, whose header was stopped by Ramsdale.

Back came Cherries with Harry Wilson slipping a slide rule pass to Callum Wilson, but the striker missed a golden chance, firing a one-on-one straight at Roberto.

And the miss instantly came back to haunt the hosts as West Ham equalised on 74 minutes. Yarmolenko again switched to Anderson, who nodded back for Cresswell to fire in via a deflection off Cook.

Both managers turned to their benches in search of a late winner. Former Cherry Jack Wilshere was introduced for the Hammers, while Danjuma came on in place of Harry Wilson for the hosts.

Callum Wilson was again in the right area to test Roberto as the game moved into its final 10 minutes, turning a Rico cross goalwards, but the goalkeeper made the stop. Hammers then had a go from range with Ramsdale parrying a Declan Rice shot.

Neither side could find a route to a winning goal, with Cherries denied a penalty shout late on as King went down under the challenge of Cresswell.

The draw extends Cherries’ unbeaten record over West Ham to six matches.

Cherries: Ramsdale; Stacey (Francis, 89), S Cook, Ake, Rico; Lerma, Billing (L Cook, 89); H Wilson (Danjuma, 78), Solanke, King; C Wilson.

Unused subs: Mepham, Surman, Ibe, Boruc (g/k).

Booked: Rico, S Cook, Lerma.

West Ham: Fabianski (Roberto, 34); Fredericks, Diop, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Rice, Noble (Wilshere, 75), Fornals (Lanzini, 67); Yarmolenko, Anderson, Haller.

Unused subs: Zabaleta, Balbuena, Snodgrass, Ajeti.

Booked: Diop.

Referee: Stuart Attwell

Attendance: 10,729