And although David Moyes’ men extended their unbeaten Premier League run to half a dozen matches it proved a difficult East End evening for the Scot, debutant Kalvin Phillips and the rest of the West Ham United team.
Indeed, Phillips’ early mistake enabled in-form Dominic Solanke to put Bournemouth in the driving seat until James Ward-Prowse salvaged a second-half point from the penalty spot on the hour mark, following Lloyd Kelly’s tug on Mohammed Kudus.
Kicking-off in sixth spot – 10 points and seven places above the visitors – the Hammers had made a quartet of changes to the team that had been pegged back to another disappointing draw at struggling Sheffield United (2-2) 11 days earlier.
With Vladimír Coufal suspended after his stoppage-time dismissal in a frantic finale at Bramall Lane that proved the catalyst for the 10-man Blades to salvage a precious point with a last-gasp leveller, Ben Johnson returned to the starting line-up alongside fit-again Edson Álvarez and – returning from the African Cup of Nations following Ghana’s elimination – Kudus.
There was also a starting spot for Phillips following last week’s loan move from Manchester City as Danny Ings returned to the bench alongside Maxwel Cornet, while Spaniard Pablo Fornals – despite being present at London Stadium – was stood down altogether having spent the afternoon being strongly linked with a transfer deadline day move back home to Real Betis.
Unfortunately for Phillips – shoehorned into a new-look home midfield – his fledgling Hammers career could not have got off to a worst start.
With just three minutes on the clock, having collected Kurt Zouma’s routine pass, the England midfielder was ambushed by Ryan Christie and his sliding attempt to prod the ball back towards Alphonse Areola, merely succeeded in playing in Solanke, who gratefully slotted a low, angled eight-yarder past the helplessly-exposed French goalkeeper.
There was an agonising wait for Phillips, while the Video Assistant Referee, Simon Hooper, reviewed the footage but with a West Ham boot having beaten Christie to the ball, Solanke was adjudged onside to claim his 15th goal of the season.
Coincidentally, the Bournemouth striker had also been on target when the Cherries began their 2023/24 campaign with a 1-1 draw against the Hammers at the Vitality Stadium in August and, after subsequently enjoying some fruitful results on their travels, the visitors had arrived for this London Stadium return, having won five of their last six away games in all competitions.
Last time out, they handed Swansea City a 5-0 thrashing and, after seeing his side waltz past the Welshmen to reach the FA Cup fifth round, Andoni Iraola also made four changes for this return to the bread and butter of Premier League action, handing call-ups to Neto, Adam Smith, Antoine Semenyo and Marcus Tavernier.
Already sitting on their early lead, Bournemouth might even have doubled their advantage as Marcos Senesi, Lewis Cook, Ilia Zabarnyi and Christie each threatened Areola with a cocktail of shots and headers, while all the Hammers could offer in reply was Phillips’ 20-yard curler that was easily gathered by Neto.
With the Hammers all too similar, all too ineffective, new-look midfield formation of anchormen Álvarez, Ward-Prowse and Phillips plus the wider Kudus struggling to find any way forward towards a more advanced Tomáš Souček and lone striker Jarrod Bowen, the hosts had Areola to thank for keeping them in the contest, 10 minutes before the break.
This time, Solanke unselfishly squared to the overlapping Semenyo but with the goal at his mercy, the Ghanaian striker could only look high towards the Stratford skies as the Hammers keeper brilliantly diverted his point-blank shot high into the dark, night air with his unyielding left glove.
Both Bowen and Souček then went close with headers that lacked either pace or precision and the opening 45 minutes finished as it began with Bournemouth firmly on the front foot and Areola denying Tavernier and Semenyo to restrict the visitors to their solitary, one-goal lead at the interval.
Disharmony on the concourses would, undoubtedly, have been matched by disgruntlement in the home dressing room and having recognised that Souček is clearly a No.28 as opposed to a No.10, Moyes now pushed Kudus and Ward-Prowse forward to support Bowen, while the Czech Republic midfielder reverted to his more familiar central holding role.
And, on the hour mark, that new-look formation reaped a dividend for the Scot, who saw Kudus hauled down by Kelly as he raced into the area.
Directed to his touchline monitor, referee Tim Robinson now ruled the Bournemouth left-back’s challenge illegal and, reliable as ever, with Neto heading left, Ward-Prowse drilled the consequent spot-kick straight down the middle to equalise with his fifth goal of the season following his summer move from Cherries’ rivals, Southampton.
With the scores now level, Sinisterra and Justin Kluivert stepped from the bench to replace Semenyo and Alex Scott, while Phillips retired as former Bournemouth striker Ings entered the fray for the final 20 minutes or so.
Another attempted escape by Kudus resulted in a booking for Christie before Bowen also saw yellow following a full-blooded 50/50 slide into Zabarnyi.
By now, though, with the Hammers finally establishing a foothold in the encounter and the visitors finding their attacking options restricted, a repeat of the opening weekend scoreline looked inevitable and both sides ended up settling for a point apiece.
WEST HAM UNITED: Areola, Johnson, Emerson, Zouma, Mavropanos, Álvarez, Phillips (Ings 68), Ward-Prowse, Kudus (Cornet 90+5), Souček, Bowen. Unused subs: Fabiański, Cresswell, Ogbonna, Casey, Mubama, Scarles, Orford.
AFC BOURNEMOUTH: Neto, Smith, Kelly (Kerkez 78), Zabarnyi, Senesi, Cook, Christie, Scott (Kluivert 68), Semenyo (Sinisterra 68), Tavernier (Faivre 90+2), Solanke. Unused subs: Travers, Mepham, Kilkenny, Billing, Kinsey-Wellings.
Booked: Christie (66), Bowen (70), Cook (83).
Referee: Tim Robinson.