BOSS Eddie Howe has challenged the Dean Court faithful to raise the roof as Cherries aim to take a giant step towards the Championship play-offs this evening (7.45pm).

On a run of seven victories in nine games, Cherries could cut to just two points the gap on sixth- placed Reading with victory over the Royals – and Howe stressed that the home fans have a crucial role to play.

The manager was thrilled by the atmosphere created by more than 11,300 supporters in the 2-1 victory over high-flying QPR on Saturday and believes that similar noise levels could spur Cherries on to another three points.

He told the Daily Echo: “It was as good an atmosphere as I can remember and that stays with me. When the final whistle went it was just great to be there, to feel it and to hear it.

“When we went down to 10 men we really needed them and I felt they played a big part in the win. The crowd knew the importance of the game and to get another three points was really big for us.

“It’s difficult to ask the crowd to be like that if you don’t perform very well, so we know we have a duty to set the standards and, hopefully, if they can see 100 per cent effort and a team really fighting for another three points, they will get behind us again.”

Howe has always had a liking for evening games at Dean Court and that affection can only have been increased by Cherries’ unblemished winning record in midweek home fixtures in 2013-14.

A 4-1 thrashing of Leeds a fortnight ago was one of the season’s memorable evenings and Howe is keen to add another special win to Cherries’ campaign.

He continued: “As a player I always enjoyed the midweek games and as a manager my thoughts haven’t changed.

“The crowd always get behind the team, the pitch is suited to the night games because the surface gets a bit more juice to it and there’s just a really good feeling about the ground.

“Hopefully it will be another good occasion.”