TOWN ended 2004 on an encouraging note by forcing a deserved draw in an entertaining showdown on the South Coast.
It could have been better - busy midfielder Chris Brandon being denied a last-gasp winner by outstretched home goalkeeper Neil Moss - but it could have been worse too.
Sean O'Driscoll's Cherries put together some sweet passages of play, and each time they scored, through ex-Arsenal midfielder John Spicer after 17 and 51 minutes, looked capable of taking the game by the scruff of the neck.
That they didn't was down to Town's tenacity and their ability to counterbalance some slipshod defending with some sharp chance-taking.
First John McAliskey marked only his third start of the season with his second goal, his 38th-minute right-foot finish from Andy Holdsworth's sublime through ball showing why he was such a hit up front last season.
Then big David Mirfin, handed the left-back role ahead of specialists Rob Edwards and Anthony Lloyd as manager Peter Jackson stuck to 4-4-2 in the wake of Sunday's home win over Port Vale, popped up to head home his second of the campaign with 60 minutes on the clock.
Jackson, no doubt delighted to see it's not just Pawel Abbott who can make the scoresheet, made special mention of his his two young marksmen afterwards.
But praise was also due to Efe Sodje, who was controlled and influential at centre-back against muscular Steve Fletcher and his lanky frontline sidekick Alan Connell and produced some telling challenges when the pressure was on, none more so than in the 85th minute, when he robbed Neil Young as the raiding right-back shaped to shoot from just inside the area.
Nathan Clarke also did his fair share of hard work, although having been booked for a foul on Brian Stock in the 38th minute (home duo Young and Connell were also yellow-carded after the mini-fracas which followed), he was fortunate referee Andy Penn took a lenient view of his 61st-minute foul from behind on the ever-dangerous Spicer.
Brandon, for a late 66th-minute tackle on Warren Cummings, and Danny Schofield, for delaying a Bournemouth free-kick in time added on, were also cautioned.
But while home fans took exception to robust tackles by Brandon and Town skipper Jon Worthington, this wasn't really a dirty match, with both sides keen to concentrate more on football than foul play.
The outcome was an end-to-end clash with plenty of penalty-area action, starting as early as the second minute, when Abbott and McAliskey combined to set up Schofield, who shot well over from the edge of the area.
Two minutes later, Schofield's shot from Tony Carss' lay-off was blocked before home midfielder Gareth O'Connor tried his luck from distance, shooting wide from a Stock lay-off.
Sodje moved quickly to halt Cummings' dash for goal in the ninth minute, then headed away Wade Elliott's dangerous 14th-minute cross, but only as far as Connell, whose angled shot was blocked by Clarke.
Three minutes later, Bournemouth made the breakthrough they were threatening, with Cummings the architect.
Advancing from just inside the Town half, he threaded his way into the penalty area (too easily for Jackson's liking), and while Sodje twice blocked his shots on goal, the ball spun free to the lurking Spicer, who drilled home low from 20 yards.
The home side looked buoyant for a spell, but Town came back into things when Holdsworth fired into the side-netting from Abbott's 21st-minute lay-off.
Abbott then had a 29th-minute effort blocked before McAliskey struck, chesting down Holdsworth's flighted pass, advancing a step into the area and giving Moss no chance with a well-placed right-foot shot.
Both goalkeepers were called on before half-time, with Paul Rachubka holding a Cummings free-kick before Moss stooped low to deny Carss.
Bournemouth made the stronger start to the second period, regaining the lead just six minutes in when Spicer was left unmarked in the area to meet Stock's corner.
He mis-hit his first attempt, but the ball sat up nicely for a right-foot volley which flew past the helpless Rachubka.
Sodje was in the thick of things as Bournemouth sought a clincher, only to find themselves back on level terms by the hour mark.
Clarke looked on in frustration as his header from Carss' corner was cleared off the line by Young, but from the follow-up flag kick, Mirfin's powerful header sneaked across the line before centre-back Karl Broadhurst could hack it clear.
Both sides had chances to claim victory in the final half hour, Bournemouth coming close through substitute and Town old boy Marcus Browning, who looped a 72nd-minute header onto the top of the bar, and Town through Brandon, whose 80th-minute drive was pushed away for a corner by Moss.
Had the Town midfielder managed to prod home from Abbott's injury-time lay-off, it would have been a fitting reward for the 250 fans who made the 500-mile round trip, but tough on a home team who look capable of making the play-offs.
What price Town returning to the Fitness First Stadium in the end-of-season shoot-outs!
Next: Man of the Match >>>
Man of the Match: JOHN McALISKEY
BRIGHT and eager on only his third League start of the season. Cool and confident finish suggests there are more goals to come from the still-maturing 20-year-old. Certainly deserves another chance at Hull on Saturday
How they rated:
Paul Rachubka Little he could do about either Bournemouth goal, and pulled off a couple of crucial saves at other key points in the game Rating: 7/10.
Andy Holdsworth Worked hard defensively and looked bright in attack. His through ball for John McAliskey's goal was a beauty Rating: 8/10.
David Mirfin Didn't look entirely comfortable in an unaccustomed left-back role, but his strength was helpful and he took his goal well Rating: 7/10.
Nathan Clarke Another useful display to go with that against Port Vale, although rode his luck a little after being booked Rating:7/10.
Efe Sodje Was strong and confident against some awkward opponents and used his experience to make some telling tackles Rating: 8/10.
Tony Carss Caused problems with his crosses and corners and played his part in an industrious all-round team effort Rating:7/10.
Jon Worthington His no-nonsense approach didn't please the home fans, but his captain's contribution was crucial for Town Rating: 7/10.
John McAliskey Made the most of his big chance. Snatched at a few decent chances, but took his goal with real aplomb Rating:8/10.
Danny Schofield No reward in terms of goals, but still played a major role and caused Bournemouth plenty of problems Rating: 7/10.
Pawel Abbott Had a quiet game by his high standards, but still made himself a nuisance to the home side Rating: 7/10.
Chris Brandon Put in some vital tackles and also made his mark attacking-wise. What a shame he couldn't find the net with his stoppage-time effort Rating: 7/10.
Spotlight on the ref:
SOME would call Andy Penn lenient, others would call it commonsense refereeing. Whatever the description, both sides benefited from the West Midlands whistler's liberal approach.
Home striker Steve Fletcher and Town midfielder Chris Brandon both escaped punishment after seeming to raise their arms while with another man in charge, the already-booked Nathan Clarke might have seen red for a foul from behind on John Spicer.