SIMON Francis has warned the Championship’s play-off challengers to beware of in-form Cherries’ late surge after targeting an unbeaten end to the season.

A majestic March was capped off in style as Cherries put to the sword Birmingham City with a 4- 2 success at St Andrews on Saturday, the Dean Court outfit’s sixth win in eight league outings.

Victory moved Eddie Howe’s men up to 10th and within five points of sixth-placed Reading with seven matches to play, while the maximum haul also saw Cherries close in on a record points total in the second tier.

Harry Redknapp’s class of 1989 finished 12th in Division Two with 62 points, just seven more than the current crop has managed so far, a statistic largely lost amid the excitement of a potential push for the Premier League.

But while supporters and staff are daring to dream, the dependable defender insists the players’ determination centres around maintaining the fine form which has already seen Cherries rack up a record number of away wins in the second flight.

On the prospect of passing more milestones, Francis told the Daily Echo: “I don’t think it is in the players’ minds too much.

“I’m sure people at the club and the fans are thinking about it but it would be naive for us to look too far towards the end of the season and what it might take to get in the play-offs or set records.

“To catch the top six, other teams are going to have to slip up as well as us putting together a really good run, we know that.

“It would probably mean us not losing again but we’re all for it. We want to finish as high as possible and if that’s in the play-offs then that would the perfect end to the season.

“I think we have surpassed everyone’s expectations already. People outside the club probably thought just staying up would have been an achievement for us, but we knew with the quality we have in the squad that we could finish higher than that.

“Apart from a few disappointing results away from home earlier in the season, we have come a long way. We have learned a lot and improved every single week.

“A lot of people can see that now and I think we’re definitely one of the teams to be taking note of towards the end of the season.”

  • Cherries yesterday confirmed that Saturday’s match against Queens Park Rangers had sold out. No more tickets will be issued.