Bournemouth were “psychologically” unable to avoid sitting deep as they gave up the lead to draw 1-1 at Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Saturday, according to manager Eddie Howe.
The Cherries led through Josh King’s goal in the 11th minute at Selhurst Park, but they found themselves under heavy pressure after the break.
The visitors looked set to escape with all three points as Palace missed a host of opportunities as well as a penalty, only for Scott Dann to finally head home the equaliser in the 93rd minute.
Howe acknowledged his players could not find a way to get out of their half during the sustained assault from Alan Pardew’s side.
“They’re such a strong, physical team,” he told Sky Sports.
“It’s very difficult to stop their direct play. We ended up sinking very deep, trying to defend what we had. That wasn’t our wish. Psychologically I think it’s very difficult to reverse it when you’re defending such a precious lead.”
Bournemouth had been within minutes of recording a maiden victory of the Premier League season, leaving Howe and his team to digest a painful missed opportunity.
“Yeah, very difficult, when you think you’re so close to the first win,” he said.
“It’s a sickener. A real game of two halves. I thought we were excellent [in the] first half. Second half, it was backs to the wall. Fair play to Palace, they put us under a lot of pressure. The late goal was a difficult one to swallow.
“We came under the cosh, threw our bodies on the line, defended brilliantly at times but it wasn’t to be.”
Yohan Cabaye missed a first-half spot-kick for Palace, Charlie Daniels having been penalised by referee Mike Dean for contact with Christian Benteke, a decision Howe believes was questionable.
“I thought it was harsh,” he said.
“I’d need to see it again. I’m only seeing it live, I probably haven’t got a great view. Maybe someone will tell me different.”