Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe relieved with Derby draw

Bournemouth not at their best - Howe

Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe said he was glad to take a point from the top-of-the-table clash with Derby on Tuesday, despite having taken the lead twice.

The Cherries went ahead through goals from Matt Ritchie and Callum Wilson but were pegged back on each occasion.

"It was a good battle between two very good teams but to be brutally honest, I think it's as poor as we've played in a while," Howe told BBC South Today.

"We can learn from a big occasion and the positive is we haven't got beaten."

Bournemouth's record v the top six
10 February Drew 2-2 with Derby (H)
30 JanuaryBeat Watford 2-0 (H)
22 NovemberDrew 2-2 with Ipswich (H)
8 NovemberDrew 0-0 with Middlesbrough (A)
30 SeptemberLost 2-0 to Derby (A)
20 SeptemberDrew 1-1 v Watford (A)
16 AugustBeat Brentford 1-0 (H)

Howe said his team, the highest scorers in the top four divisions of English football with 64 goals this season, had not been "anywhere near our normal level".

"We weren't so good with the ball which is really unlike us," he said.

"Our hallmark this year has been our ability to manipulate the ball in tight areas and play free-flowing football and you have to give Derby some credit for stopping us."

Bournemouth dropped to second in the table after Middlesbrough's 2-1 win over Blackpool, but Howe said the ability to grind out results was a trait he wanted his players to develop as the fight for promotion intensifies.

Matt Ritchie celebrates his opener
Matt Ritchie scored early on but Bournemouth allowed Derby back into the match

"Picking up points when we haven't performed as well as we'd like is probably something we've not done enough so we'll take that point," he added.

"I think it's a good one considering we didn't get going."

Cherries skipper Tommy Elphick said the result put pressure on the players to beat Huddersfield on Saturday, a day when promotion rivals Derby and Boro are both in FA Cup action.

"It will be an important point if we can win on Saturday - that will turn it into a good point," he told BBC Radio Solent.

"We've been a bit nervy in our last two home games. We just need to take a step back, relax and not be so rushed in possession. We've shown on many occasions we can handle the ball well and we need to get back to that a little bit.

"Every game gets bigger now. There's some twists and turns to come. Saturday is a chance to go back on top and ask questions of the rest of the sides up there."

Scott Mitchell walks out on the pitch at half-time
Scott 'Scotty Dog' Mitchell described the experience as "a dream come true"

World darts champion Scott Mitchell, a Cherries fan, was in attendance at the Goldsands Stadium and was introduced to the crowd at half-time, with the trophy he won for winning the BDO Championship at the Lakeside last month.

"Thanks to all at Bournemouth for making another dream come true," he said on Twitter.external-link

"Such a great game. Walked on the pitch at half time. Truly humbled, tonight stays with me for ever."

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