Connell put a year of injury misery and personal problems behind him to score his first goal since rejoining Bournemouth from Brentford last season.
Brett Pitman gave Bournemouth the lead and Connell headed home Warren Cummings's cross for the killer second before John Obike scored a consolation.
Howe said: "Alan has had to be patient but he is 100% fit now and he showed excellent work-rate and desire after getting his chance.
"He has had a lot to put up with over the last year and everyone was pleased for him when he got his goal. You could see that by the reaction of the other players.
"Alan was injured in his first training session when he rejoined the club and he has had to work hard to get back into shape so this was his reward."