TOMMY Elphick led Cherries to victory in the first leg of their home double-header before insisting another three-point haul against Reading would make a “huge statement” in the race for the play-offs.

Skipper Elphick bagged his first goal in the Championship to pave the way for Cherries’ crucial 2-1 win over third-placed QPR at Dean Court on Saturday.

His thumping header from an Ian Harte corner on the stroke of half-time was added to by Lewis Grabban’s 20th goal of the season with Armand Traore replying for the visitors.

Victory – Cherries’ seventh in their past nine games – ensured Eddie Howe’s men would remain five points adrift of sixth-placed Reading ahead of their visit to Dorset tomorrow.

Elphick said: “It is a big game and one we feel we can win. We are on an amazing run and want to keep it going because in football there are more downs than ups and we are definitely on an upward curve and want to keep riding it.

"There are still going to be lots of twists and turns but, if we could win, it would be a huge statement.

“We want to put down a marker, not just to ourselves but to everyone else as well. We have a bit of momentum and that can be hard to stop.”

Elphick, who captained Cherries to promotion last season, added: “On big occasions, you need your big players to step up and I want to be a big player for this club. The goal meant a lot to me.

“I just want to keep the fans with us. They have been great all season, even when we weren’t winning, and we owe it to them to keep putting on performances and to keep giving them those hopes and dreams.”

Asked whether Cherries had received any extra motivation from facing former Dean Court boss Harry Redknapp, Elphick replied: “Sometimes it is nice to put one over your old bosses but that was not the case. There was no added incentive, other than trying to make the play-offs.

“We have seen a lot of Harry since I have been here. He was around the place quite a lot at the start of last season and Kevin Bond came in and helped the manager after he had taken over. This club owes a lot to these people. Harry put this club on the map and we should never forget that.”