WINGER Matt Ritchie is convinced an injection of belief has been behind Cherries’ recent purple patch.

Ritchie netted twice as Eddie Howe’s men moved to within two points of the Championship play-off places thanks to a 3-1 win over Reading on Tuesday.

The 24-year-old, who took his tally for the season to eight, said: “It was another good win. We are on a good run and just need to keep it going.

"I think it is down to belief. We have all started to believe and realise how good a team we are.

“We are set up well and have good players who are all performing as a team. That has shown in the past few weeks and we have come on leaps and bounds. The confidence throughout the group is excellent. We just want to keep it going.

“It was nice to score a couple of goals and to contribute. I was pleased to be able to give Grabbs (Lewis Grabban) a breather because he has scored game after game. We have players chipping in from all over the pitch.”

Boss Howe has presided over a 10-match run which has taken Cherries from 17th to ninth and seen them close the gap on the play-off places from 14 to just two points thanks to eight wins and a draw.

He said: “I have seen how hard the lads have worked to get us into this position.

"We didn’t expect it, especially considering where we were a few weeks ago, but we are where we are. Why not seize the moment and see where we can go.

“I am not stupid. I can see how many points we have and where we are in the league. But it is still in Reading’s hands and, if they were to win their five games, they would be ahead of us.

“There was huge pressure on us because we knew if we had lost, our season would have been over with regards to achieving something.

“We have always had good players and have always produced good performances but the belief is the thing that has changed. We now believe we are a good side and believe we can win games and score goals and that has transformed us.”