BOSS Eddie Howe is hoping Cherries’ hard-fought win over Barnsley will provide a platform for his team to extend the club’s best start to a Championship season.

Marc Pugh’s finely-taken goal saw off the stubborn Yorkshire outfit – with a fourth victory of the campaign eclipsing the previous best start over seven games.

Under Harry Redknapp in 1988, Cherries won three and drew two of their opening seven on their way to finishing 12th in the old second division, the highest in their history.

Cherries, the only team in the Championship not to draw this season, meet Middlesbrough tomorrow for the first time in the league since 1989-90.

And with four of their next six matches on the road, including trips to high-flying Nottingham Forest and Leicester, Howe hopes Cherries can use the Barnsley win as a springboard.

He told the Daily Echo: “The league is still forming and it is early days. Barnsley were a good side and will beat some good teams this season. As much as other people may have wanted to, we certainly didn’t underestimate the win. For me, it was one of our most difficult games so far this season.

“At home, we are expected to take the game to the opposition and be the dominant team. In this league, that is never going to be the case for 90 minutes.

“It was great to see one of our chances finally hit the back of the net. It wasn’t an easy chance and was a great finish. I was really pleased for the players because you can see how much effort they are putting into every game. It will set us up nicely for some tough games.”

Meanwhile, Boro boss Tony Mowbray wants his players to “ask lots of questions” of Cherries when the teams lock horns at the Riverside.

Mowbray said: “Bournemouth have won four games out of seven so will come in a confident mood having won their last away game. I know they have got some good players and they play a good brand of football.

“Every game is tough but I would hope that we would ask lots of questions of them. It is a game we have got to target three points. I want us to go into this game in a positive frame of mind, take three points and move on.

“They have lost some games on the road heavily. They lost 6-1 to Watford and 5-1 against Huddersfield and yet have beaten Wigan, Doncaster, Barnsley and Charlton. So what do we expect?

“We expect our football team to be good on the day, to do what we do very well, let them worry about us while being mindful of their strengths because they do have some tidy footballers.

“It is an interesting game, a dangerous game, as their results have shown. But, at the same time, they have shown some fallibility as well and we have to try to put pressure on them, ask questions of them, see if we can score some goals and get the points.”

Cherries: (from) Allsop, Francis, Cook, Ward, Daniels, Fraser, MacDonald, O’Kane, Pugh, Pitman, Grabban, Rantie, Elphick, Hughes, McQuoid, Thomas, Harte, McDermott, Addison, Flahavan.

Boro: (from) Steele, Friend, Williams, Richardson, Woodgate, Butterfield, Leadbitter, Whitehead, Emnes, Adomah, Kamara, Hoyte, Gibson, Carayol, Smallwood, Jutkiewicz, Varga, Leutwiler.