HARRY Arter insists Cherries are a team transformed since their last clash with Crawley but he admits: “Everyone has still got a point to prove.”
Cherries’ dramatic improvement will hit home this afternoon when they host the side that ended Paul Groves’s brief and unsuccessful Dean Court tenure.
Hot on the heels of a demoralising 4-0 hammering at Swindon, Cherries suffered a second successive away defeat as they collapsed to a 3-1 loss at Crawley in October.
Under-fire Groves was relieved of his duties the following day and Eddie Howe returned to swiftly revive Cherries’ fortunes with a remarkable 14-match unbeaten streak.
Arter, who turned 23 yesterday, revealed Cherries’ players had to take a look in the mirror before putting together the run which has propelled them to within a point of the play-off zone.
He told the Daily Echo: “I was thinking back to the Swindon and Crawley games the other day. If you looked at the team now compared with those games, you would think ‘wow, what a massive difference’.
“It is not so much that we owe those teams anything but we owe it to ourselves to show what good players we are. The way we played earlier in the season, especially against Crawley and Swindon, wasn’t good enough.
“Everyone has still got a point to prove. We are playing catch-up and as much as people will probably blame the previous management, the lads had to look at themselves.
“I feel the new gaffer has made us all look at ourselves and made us realise that it is down to us and we are all doing all right at the moment so, hopefully, it will continue.”
Arter, who was not involved in the games at Swindon and Crawley, was restored to the team by Howe and he has netted four goals in 19 appearances this term.
The Londoner added: “At the start of the season, we made some good signings. For whatever reason, it just didn’t work out for the last two guys (Groves and Shaun Brooks).
“Eddie and Jase came back and they have picked us up, made us hard to beat and given us a cutting edge.
“To go 14 unbeaten, the lads probably didn’t expect that when they first took over. But we can’t look back now and say we have done really well or we are one of the best teams in the league or anything silly like that because that is when complacency will come in and when we will lose the unbeaten run.
“We need to try to stay as level headed as we can, enjoy the feeling of winning and make sure we go out with the mentality of not having the feeling we had at the start of the season.”