CHERRIES star Harry Arter vehemently denied he had dived to win a penalty in the crucial Championship victory over Middlesbrough.

Having already doubled Cherries’ lead with a sensational strike from range, the 25-year-old midfielder went to ground as he burst between Albert Adomah and Grant Leadbitter.

Referee Anthony Taylor awarded a spot-kick despite protests from the Boro duo, while Sky Sports pundit Andy Hinchcliffe argued that Arter had “bought a penalty”.

Substitute Brett Pitman then converted from 12 yards to hand Cherries an ultimately unassailable three-goal advantage.

After the final whistle, Arter insisted that simulation had never been part of his game.

Responding to questions from the Daily Echo, Arter said: “People can look back over my career and see that I have never dived in my life. I’ve never been penalised for that.

“I was running at such a pace and something took me off my balance and that’s why I went over, whether that was a touch or my momentum took me over, I’m not sure.

“One thing I can safely say is I’m not a diver. The referee was on point for the decision and he thought it was a penalty.”

Arter’s earlier Exocet had put Cherries firmly in command of the Dean Court clash – his second wonder goal in five days following a scorcher against Cardiff.

He added: “I was pleased to score and it seemed to be another really good goal. I hit both as sweetly as I could and hoped for the best! Luckily for me, both went in.

“I’ve been told in the past to look for the next pass rather than shoot but I think maybe I’ll be encouraged to shoot a little bit more now!”

Arter, who will this week link up with the Republic of Ireland ahead of their Euro 2016 qualifier against Poland on Sunday, revealed the victory over Boro had provided a major psychological boost.

He added: “It was a big result because if we had lost we would have been five points behind Middlesbrough with seven games to go.

“That would have been a healthy gap and we knew that at the back of our minds, albeit we didn’t focus on that before the game. The pressure was on us and we delivered.

“It was an excellent performance from the goalkeeper to the strikers and we got what we deserved.

“Middlesbrough weren’t at their best for a reason – because we had worked on their strengths and weaknesses and how to stop them.

“Credit has to go to the manager for that because he sets us up knowing what to expect and how to win a game.”