WITH giants of the sporting world looking on, Eddie Howe strolled into his post-match media conference in the new press room at Dean Court.
To his left, images of Rafael Nadal and Michael Phelps. To his right, Usain Bolt, Sir Bradley Wiggins and Rory McIlroy. Serial champions in their chosen sports, these men are indicative of the winning mentality that Howe wants to see in his players.
The Cherries boss may not have seen a performance worthy of the likes of Bolt in the 1-0 victory over Brentford, but his team’s ability to graft and grind out meant it was still mission accomplished on Saturday.
With their 100 per cent winning start intact, things could not be much better.
After all, it’s not every week you find yourself top of the Championship and a mere four places below 13-time Premier League champions Manchester United in the league ladder.
That said, events on the pitch suggested Cherries still have plenty of work to do if they are to maintain their lofty position, as this display did not rival the mauling of Huddersfield nine days ago.
With Lee Camp and Steve Cook deemed fit, Howe made 11 changes to the side that beat Exeter in the League Cup and reverted to the line-up that started against the Terriers.
Brentford, back in the Championship after a 21-year absence, did not include recently-recruited duo Jose Peleteiro Ramallo and Jon Toral in their squad.
Midfielder Adam Forshaw – subject to two failed bids from Wigan – was also absent but Moses Odubajo took his place in Mark Warburton’s starting XI after recovering from a back complaint.
Perhaps surprising their hosts, the Bees should have been ahead as early as the fifth minute.
After Harry Arter chopped down striker Andre Gray on the corner of the box, Jake Bidwell’s low free-kick was laid off by Marcos Tebar and Gray swivelled to crash an effort against the underside of the bar.
Minutes later, Yann Kermorgant thought he had scored with a skidding low drive from 18 yards after Charlie Daniels had dragged back a corner but the diving David Button palmed around the post.
Cherries struggled to get to grips with a bustling Bees midfield in the opening period and smooth passing moves were few and far between but a rare incisive passage involving Kermorgant, Simon Francis and Arter resulted in Eunan O’Kane going close from range.
Gray, a summer recruit from Luton, proved a handful for the Cherries defence and the frontman poked wide of the upright in the 21st minute after another smart turn.
Efforts from distance were flying towards goal with regularity and Ritchie was as keen as anyone to have a go.
First, the winger’s thunderous volley deflected behind by team-mate Callum Wilson before another rocket was not held by Button, only for James Tarkowski to beat Cherries’ new frontman to the loose ball.
Seconds before the break, Tottenham loanee Alex Pritchard lifted a free-kick well-clear of the bar with the visitors’ ruse of setting up their own wall behind the Cherries defensive wall proving somewhat irrelevant.
Warburton’s troops began the second period on the front foot and Alan Judge whipped a curling effort a fraction wide of the right upright.
O’Kane made a crucial intervention to stop Gray’s pass releasing Pritchard before Cherries created their best opportunity of the game to that point.
Rising high, Kermorgant beat Button to Marc Pugh’s delivery and Wilson’s shot into the ground bounced towards the top-right corner where Bidwell leapt desperately to nod clear.
Kermorgant hit a defender with his header from Wilson’s left-wing cross before the latter was found in space by Arter, only to fire weakly at Button.
The influence of Pritchard was becoming more apparent and in the 65th minute, his curling free-kick was beaten away by Camp at the near post.
Howe boldly threw on Junior Stanislas and Ryan Fraser in place of Pugh and Ritchie and after Judge and Tony Craig both went close, Cherries finally made the breakthrough.
Released by Wilson, Fraser weaved into space down the right before swinging in a deep delivery which Stanislas despatched first time to record a goal on his home debut.
The Bees threw everything at their quest for an equaliser in the closing stages with Pritchard constantly causing concern.
The 21-year-old was at the centre of a super counter attack in which he forced a useful block from Camp with Cherries captain Tommy Elphick perfectly positioned to cut out Judge’s resulting centre.
With a minute to play, Jonathan Douglas went close to marking his 400th Football League appearance with an equaliser but his header from Alan McCormack’s right-wing cross clipped the bar and dropped harmlessly behind.
Button ventured forward for a Pritchard corner as the seconds ticked awat, but centre-half Elphick headed emphatically away from danger and moments later referee Gavin Ward blew his whistle.
STAR MAN - TOMMY ELPHICK
When Cherries find themselves under the cosh, invariably there is one man that can be relied on.
Skipper Tommy Elphick was clearly desperate for a second clean sheet of 2014-15 in the Championship and in the second half in particular, he came to the fore.
No more was this exemplified than in the closing seconds when, under great pressure, the former Brighton man alleviated danger by heading clear Alex Pritchard's corner.
It would have been easy to panic when Brentford were hurling men forward with abandon, but Elphick remained cool as he and his defence ensured the visitors were largely restricted to half-chances.
MATCH FACTS AND MERIT MARKS
Cherries: Camp 7.5, Francis 7, Elphick 8, Cook 7.5 Daniels 7, Ritchie 7.5 (Fraser, 65), Arter 6.5, O'Kane 7 (Gosling, 83), Pugh 6.5 (Stanislas, 65), Kermorgant 6.5, Wilson 6.5.
Unused subs: Harte, Smith, Rantie, Flahavan (g/k).
Bees: Button, McCormack, Craig, Tarkowski, Bidwell, Odubajo (Smith, 80), Tebar (Dallas, 60), Douglas, Pritchard, Judge, Gray (Proschwitz, 80).
Unused subs: Dean, Diagouraga, Moore, Lee (g/k).
Booked: Tarkowski, Craig, McCormack.
Referee: Gavin Ward (Surrey).
Attendance: 10,114 (including 1,392 away supporters).