By David Williams
Cardiff City 1, Bournemouth 1
Harry Wilson earned the praises of Cardiff City manager Neil Harris after his first goal for his new club denied his old teammates from last season.
The Wales striker – who moved on loan from Liverpool last week in a dramatic statement of intent by the Bluebirds – struck a well-timed drive just past the hour to enable Cardiff to avoid a third successive home defeat.
The goal – on Wilson’s full debut – cancelled out Dominic Solanke’s opening goal for Bournemouth and although the Cherries dominated for long periods, Cardiff’s gutsy ability to gain a point against a Premier League club of last season who have retained most of their squad, will be encouraging to Harris.
Harris said: “I enjoyed that one. I think you saw two really good teams and a point was fair.
“Harry Wilson showed his class and quality and you can talk about his free-kicks and creativity, but it’s what he does without the ball as well which is important. I thought he was excellent.
“I think any team which finishes above Bournemouth will be promoted. They have pace and power with the ball. They are a good side, but we will get better.
“I think you saw two really good teams and a point was fair. We had good chances and it was toe to toe in the second half particularly.
“We gave them too much respect in the first half as the home team, but credit to my players for coming back. We can’t underestimate the importance of that It’s a big point at home and now we are up and running here.
“A special mention too for Joel Bagan who had to step in against one of the strongest teams in the division.”
The visitors had a late chance to win it through substitute Sam Surridge, but he was denied by one of many brave saves by Alex Smithies.
Cardiff gave a full debut to their Welsh international striker Wilson, who joined the club last week on loan from Liverpool, and his presence gave the home side a focal point in the early stages.
Wilson and Junior Hoilett were busy without either managing to penetrate Bournemouth’s protective base in front of Asmir Begovic and slowly the visitors began to dominate possession and territory.
One sweeping move ended with Adam Smith testing Cardiff’s Smithies’ reach and the goalkeeper had to react smartly again soon after as Bournemouth worked an opening for Jefferson Lerma.
The warning signs were there for Cardiff but went unheeded, enabling Dominic Solanke to put Bournemouth ahead in the 34th minute.
As Cardiff stood off, Lerma’s incisive pass gave Jack Stacey the time and space to measure his cross from the right and Solanke swept the ball home at the near post.
Cardiff struck one retaliatory note when Sheyi Ojo – another Liverpool loanee – set up clubmate Wilson, but his shot flew wide and Bournemouth’s dominance continued after the break.
They might have increased their lead from one of three chances inside the first five minutes of the second-half as the slickness of their passing left Cardiff always a yard short.
It then required a magnificent reaction save from Smithies to deny Solanke a second goal as he pushed an effort from point blank range onto the crossbar.
The value of the save was apparent minutes later when Cardiff equalised through Wilson. Ojo’s aggression won the ball, Hoilett crossed and Wilson underlined his sound technique by thumping the ball low past Begovic.
Moments later Junior Stanilas showed equal ball-striking ability for the Cherries as his free-kick from 25 yards crashed against the bar.
Harris added: “It was a great, great save from Alex. I’m really pleased with a point because Bournemouth had chances as well.
“You need your goalkeeper against the best sides and Alex showed tonight he’s up there with the best in the league.”
Bournemouth manager Jason Tindall said: “I’m disappointed we conceded that goal because we limited Cardiff – who are a very good side – to very few chances in the game.
“But we know all about Harry Wilson. If you give him room from that kind of distance, then nine times out of 10 the ball will end up in the back of the net.
“We have played well tonight, but I know we can get much better. I’m disappointed we have come away with only a point, because I felt we deserved all three.”