STUBBORN Bournemouth frustrated Town but could yet do them some massive favours this season.
After today's trip to Port Vale, the Cherries play Colchester at home, Forest away and Brentford at home to round off their season.
Sean O'Driscoll's side will clearly have a major say in the race for automatic promotion while safeguarding their own position seven points above the drop zone.
If they play with the resolve shown against Town, then that trio of promotion-chasing clubs are not going to find it easy to take points off the impressive Neil Young and Co, especially at Dean Court.
Not only did Bournemouth defend with all 11 players in the box at free-kicks and corners - often crowding out Town in the final third as they chalked a sixth successive match without defeat - but they showed enough attacking spark through midfield and 20-goal leading scorer James Hayter to trouble anyone on their own patch.
It took superb last-ditch tackles from Mark Hudson and Jon Worthington, for instance, to prevent Stephen Cooke and Hayter from scoring, while goalkeeper Paul Rachubka made a brilliant 85th-minute stop from Eddie Howe's flying header.
They were moments to illustrate Town's determination, too, on a day when manager Peter Jackson opted for a 3-5-2 formation for the first time this season and was rewarded with a solid display to complement some patient passing and neat attacks, even though his side didn't have anywhere near enough efforts at goal.
That Town were unable to keep a clean sheet was down to an awful mistake by Rachubka in the 34th minute.
Jackson's side - with Tom Clarke as the extra centre-back - had dominated to that point and it was a sickening blow when Steve Fletcher's tame 15-yard left-footer slithered under Rachubka's body and dribbled over the line.
Credit to Rachubka, though, because if the blunder was playing on his mind he didn't let it show.
He was positive in his work for the rest of the match, kicked well throughout and made that wonderful late save to deny Howe as the game, as so often happens when it's been tight for 80 minutes, opened up dramatically in the closing stages.
Town, with Taylor-Fletcher working hard and Chris Brandon introduced to a 4-4-2 set-up in the final quarter, deserved their equaliser and, indeed, had chances to win it.
James O'Connor had already sent the ball a foot wide of his own goal in a desperate attempt to foil Danny Schofield when Danny Adams created the leveller (with a stroke of luck) in the 70th minute.
Latching onto a ball from Worthington down the left, Adams' cross really ought to have been smothered by keeper Gareth Stewart, but he let the ball slip from his grasp and Taylor-Fletcher had the easiest of his 14 goals this season.
Town's 1,500 fans went berserk and Adams was booked for joining them, but it was another caution which might have more damaging consequences.
Worthington, who had a running battle with ex-Galpharm midfielder Marcus Browning, collected his 15th yellow card of the season and, after tomorrow's clash with Chesterfield, he will sit out the final three matches of the regular campaign.
Worthington's best work on the 'ugly' side of the game, covering, tackling and filling holes defensively, often goes without appreciation, but someone will have a big job to take on in those closing fixtures.
It was no surprise the skipper was to the fore as Town pressed for a late winner - David Graham being denied by Young's exquisite tackle and then seeing another effort deflected wide.
It was Nathan Clarke who went closest, however, with a tremendous header from a corner in the last minute which drifted inches wide of goal.
Had it gone in, it would surely have been the winner and Town would have been sitting second before today's games.
As things stand, they could be sixth by the time Wayne Allison drops in to his hometown club tomorrow with Chesterfield.
Next page: Man of the Match and ratings >>>
Man of the Match: David Mirfin
Very accomplished display in a new defensive formation and held off the hard-working scorer Gary Taylor-Fletcher to take the award. His positional play and tackling: superb
The obvious turning points were goalkeeping errors from Town's Rachubka and The Cherries' Stewart which cost the goals, but the attacking intent of left wing-back Danny Adams from the first moments of the second half said everything about Town's battling quality on the day. He eventually created the equaliser for T-Fletcher.
How they rated:
Paul Rachubka A howler gave Fletcher Bournemouth's goal but he atoned with a terrific late save from Howe. Kicked well all match Rating: 6/10
Andy Holdsworth Found acres of space on the right first half as Town attacked brightly but without a cutting edge. Defended solidly Rating: 7/10
Danny Adams Booked for celebrating after creating the equaliser for Fletch. Looked to attack much more in the second half Rating: 7/10
David Mirfin Again imperious at the back and footsure on a wet, slippery surface. One great tackle stopped Hayter scoring Rating: 8/10
Nathan Clarke Back to much more like his usual form. Saw plenty of ball as Town built patiently. Sent a header inches wide Rating: 7/10
Danny Schofield A few tricky breaks and one shot just over but found Bournemouth's massed defence hard to break down Rating: 6/10
Jon Worthington His superb last-minute tackle on Hayter saved a certain goal and Town will miss him badly in the last three matches Rating: 7/10
Mark Hudson Prevented Cooke from scoring with a perfectly timed sliding tackle on 18 minutes. Always got squeezed out on attack Rating: 7/10
Tom Clarke Played his part in a generally comfortable defensive display in his first start since January. Sacrificed in a switch Rating: 7/10
Gary T-Fletcher Now joint top scorer with his 14th of the season and was close to man-of-the-match because of his grafting Rating: 8/10
David Graham Had one shot deflected just wide and worked hard despite finding himself isolated and crowded out quite often Rating: 7/10
Spotlight on the ref:
Andy Hall from the West Midlands played his part in letting the game flow as much as possible and, considering the pitch was quite slippery, there were few flashpoints. Booked Jon Worthington for the 15th time this season and he will serve a three-game ban after tomorrow's clash with Chesterfield. Adams was also booked.
Bournemouth (3-5-2): Stewart; Purches, Cooper, Young, Howe, O'Connor; Browning, Cooke (Pitman 76), Foley (Rodrigues 76); Hayter, Fletcher. Subs not used: Hart, Rix, Broadhurst.