SIMON Francis says Cherries let down their “fantastic” travelling support in the course of their 2-0 defeat at Middlesbrough on Saturday.

One week after delivering an effervescent display against Spurs, Eddie Howe’s side were missing their characteristic pizzazz at a bouncing Riverside Stadium.

And Cherries’ skipper struggled to pinpoint a reason for his team’s failure to replicate the ferocious approach they had applied to the 0-0 draw with Tottenham.

Francis told the Daily Echo: “We’ve just been saying in the dressing room, it could have been a mentality thing. We were slow out of the blocks, having performed so well against Tottenham in a high-intensity game.

“Maybe we took our foot off the gas, especially early on. You can’t afford to do that against any side in the Premier League – and certainly not a team fighting for points, like Middlesbrough.

“I thought they were excellent, with and without the ball. They defended well, we couldn’t break them down and, ultimately, they scored the goals to win the game.”

Gaston Ramirez gave Boro a 39th-minute lead when he collected the ball in his own half and proceeded to cut a swathe through Cherries’ defences, before finishing expertly past Artur Boruc.

For all of the Uruguayan’s individual brilliance, however, the goal left Francis frustrated by his side’s inability to halt the attacker’s charge.

“We’d have liked to have stopped him earlier,” said the 31-year-old. “He broke from the edge of his box – and it came from our corner.

“We want to lock out players when we have our own corner, because the last thing we want to do is concede when we have an attacking set-play. It is gutting for us and something we have to rectify quickly. But it kind of summed up our day, it just didn’t go for us.”

Francis’s biggest regret was that his team didn’t reward the 1,200-plus Cherries fans who made the 654-mile round trip to the north east with a result to match their phenomenal support.

“I’m disappointed for the lads and, ultimately, for the fans,” said Francis. "They’ve been fantastic, home and away. But today especially, I heard them the whole game.

“It was a great atmosphere. The Middlesbrough supporters were excellent as well and I’m sure that helped them fight for three points. Sadly, we let our fans down.

“They’ve travelled a long way and, with the run we’ve been on, I’m sure they were hoping for a better result. We’ve let them down, because it wasn’t a typical Bournemouth performance.”

Cherries have not won any of their five Premier League away matches this season. At Vitality Stadium, by stark contrast, Howe’s team have taken 10 points from 15 available. But Francis denies playing away is starting to present a psychological barrier for his side.

He said: “It’s not (a psychological problem). It’s something we want to use as a positive: ‘come on, let’s go and get our first win away from home’.

“Last season it was ‘can we win more at home?’ Our away form was good but this season it’s the reverse. That’s the strange thing, but that’s football. We have to use it as motivation to get the win in our next away game.”