SKIPPER Tommy Elphick felt Cherries had paid the price for taking “backward steps” in their past two games – but was also keen to take the positives from the season overall.

Cherries let slip a lead for the second game in succession as Championship rivals Millwall clawed back a 2-0 deficit to draw 2-2 at Dean Court on Saturday.

Elphick said: “I know it might sound stupid but if we go back a few weeks to Birmingham, I was quoted as saying clean sheets win you leagues and I think the past two performances show why. You can’t keep taking the lead at home and throwing it away.

“I think the reason for it lies deeper than defending. We seem to take backward steps rather than forward ones when we are in front. It was reminiscent of Ipswich and, for whatever reason, we weren’t positive enough in the second half. We didn’t keep the ball and lost our brand of football. We got caught up in something else and you saw two contrasting teams.

“When we play our stuff and do what we do best, we usually come out on top. But when we veer away from that, we don’t.

“Ipswich and Millwall both played the percentage game – the more they had the ball, the more they threw at us and the more long balls they threw down our throats. You can only defend so many, you need to regain control of the game and regain possession.

“If we have the ball, they can’t score. Against Ipswich and in the second half against Millwall, we didn’t have the ball long enough to gain control of the game and we need to reduce the percentages by keeping the ball.”

Elphick added: “We are 10 games unbeaten so I think we need to take some positives as well. We are still unbeaten and are still bang in there with a chance. We have to remember that and not forget the hard work we have done and the positive results we have had recently.

“I don’t want to sum it up from the past two games, I want to sum it up as the season so far and it is a positive one. There is still a long way to go and a lot of work to put in.

“I am sure people will question our resolve and will say we are a little soft when we go in front. We have kept enough clean sheets this season to prove we have the resolve and need to get back to that.

“Everything about the first half was Bournemouth but people didn’t see the real us in the second half. We need to get back to the first-half performance over 90 minutes.”