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 By Will Kent

Artur Boruc back to his best as Bournemouth grind out Saints draw

A point away from home against a solid Southampton side will satisfy most Bournemouth fans.

Saturday's first-half performance was poor, but the Cherries stepped on the gas in the second 45 minutes and the resulting scoreless draw was a fair result.

While it's another game away from home in which Eddie Howe's side have failed to win, a clean sheet and avoiding defeat is something that helps keep the momentum going as the club head into the next match.

Positives

Another clean sheet and the continued recent improvement in Simon Francis were the main plus points from the game. The Cherries suddenly seem to be finding some defensively solidity which bodes well for the rest of the campaign and beyond. Artur Boruc was also back to his best.

Negatives

Benik Afobe put in an ineffectual performance and his inconsistency is a concern for the remainder of the season as it's up to him and Josh King to ensure survival still. The midfield lacked potency again on occasion and spent most the game closing down rather than creating. Andrew Surman going off with injury is also a worry.

Manager rating out of 10

6 -- Puzzling decision to substitute off King rather than Afobe. The latter had a very quiet game and it would have made more sense to keep on King who was in much better form.

SouthamptonSouthampton
AFC BournemouthAFC Bournemouth
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Player ratings: (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Artur Boruc, 8 -- Made a couple of fantastic saves and kept his team in the game on a number of occasions. His 43rd-minute stop to deny a Steven Davis volley was the pick of the bunch.

DF Adam Smith, 6 -- He was caught out of position frequently which nearly cost the Cherries a goal in the opening 10 minutes but Smith got better in both defence and attack as the game wore on.

DF Simon Francis, 7 -- It was another improved performance from the captain who suddenly seems to be finding his feet after a rocky season so far. He was dominant in the air and made a couple of decent blocks. He's got two more months to save his position for next season and if he continues with performances like these he might just do just that.

DF Steve Cook, 7 -- Another decent showing from the former Brighton defender as he always seemed in the right place at the right time. He dealt with every Southampton attack with ease and is maturing into a fantastic Premier League defender.

DF Charlie Daniels, 7 -- He was Bournemouth's best player in the opening half and every attacking movement they seemed to manufacture came down his flank. His energy on the ball wore off as the game progressed but it was still a solid performance.

MF Ryan Fraser, 6 -- One of the more threatening Bournemouth players who constantly looked a threat with the ball at his feet. However, he did struggle to find the really dominant form which possessed him before the international break.

MF Andrew Surman, 5 -- Largely ineffectual in the middle of the park and if it wasn't for being injured he would have probably been subbed off anyway for lack of impact.

MF Dan Gosling, 5 -- Battled where he could and applied his usual high-tempo work rate, but in terms of end product, he was lacking.

MF Marc Pugh, 6 -- Linked up well with Daniels down the flank on a couple of occasions but it's still confusing as to what Pugh is doing to continue keeping Junior Stanislas and Jordon Ibe out of the team.

FW Josh King, 5 -- One of his quieter games of the season and he looked a shadow of the player who hit three past West Ham just a matter of weeks ago.

FW Benik Afobe, 4 -- Had a very quiet game and his performance will only be remembered for his awful attempt on goal in the 61st minute which he put it wide despite being unmarked inside the penalty box.

Artur Boruc
Artur Boruc produced a string of saves to keep Bournemouth in the game.

Substitutes

MF Harry Arter, 4 -- The Republic of Ireland international didn't do much besides nearly lose the ball with his sky-high penalty miss.

MF Jack Wilshere, 5 -- Did manage to burst into the penalty area with the ball at his feet on a couple of occasions but failed to do any serious damage.

Will Kent is a freelance journalist who has worked for AFC Bournemouth, ESPN UK and ESPN FC, among others. Twitter: @WillKentSPORT

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