STOKE CITY finally ended their goal drought on the road but were still forced to pay the penalty for squandering opportunities as Bournemouth twice came from behind to claim an undeserved point at the Vitality Stadium.
Mark Hughes’ side hadn’t managed to score away from home in the league since a 3-1 triumph over Sunderland back in January, and were endeavoured to Cherries frontman Lys Mousset for ending that drought midway through the first half.
The French striker, who was handed his first start following Benik Afobe’s injury seven days earlier, inadvertently headed into his own net as he attempted to clear Marko Arnautovic’s dangerous in-swinging corner away from danger.
Opportunities to extend that advantage were squandered either side of the break before the home side managed to pull themselves back onto level pegging thanks to Junior Stanislas, who tapped home from close range.
Austrian international Arnautovic and Joe Allen both went agonisingly close to restoring the visitors lead before Mame Diouf finally hit the back of the net after he reacted quickest to meet Arnautovic’s intelligent knock down inside the danger zone.
Further opportunities presented themselves for the visitors to turn the screw into the home side, but midfielder Harry Arter, who should have been dismissed earlier in the half for an horrendous lunge on Joe Allen, did well to deny Xherdan Shaqiri whilst Geoff Cameron sliced harmlessly wide when well positioned inside the penalty area.
Whilst Stoke were by far the more dominant side on display, it was evident that Bournemouth’s pace on the break would always be a danger, as was proven when an incisive breakaway down the field led to the in-form Joshua King driving an effort just wide of the target.
Hughes responded by introducing Jonathan Walters from the bench, at the expense of the tireless Diouf, and he went within a whisker of putting the game to bed within minutes of his arrival, rising high to meet Shaqiri’s ballacross goal only for Steve Cook to somehow glance the ball away from the Irishman’s reach.
As the game ticked down towards its conclusion there was late drama when the home side earned themselves a share of the spoils in controversial fashion courtesy of King’s 14th Premier League goal of the season.
The Norwegian was clearly in an offside position when he diverted the ball into the back of the net from eight-yards in the 82nd minute, leaving the likes of Jack Butland and Ryan Shawcross incandescent by the referee’s decision to allow the effort to stand.
Right at the death Shaqiri’s sublime set-piece delivery was very nearly turned into his own net by the helpless Simon Francis, but he and his teammates cut hugely relieved figures when the ball whistled past the far post.