NATHAN Ake admits his winning goal at Stoke on Saturday brought to a close a “long couple of months” spent waiting for his full Cherries debut.

The Chelsea loanee denied knowing anything about speculation linking him with a return to his parent club in January.

But he couldn’t hide his delight at capping what was his first Premier League start since May 15 by heading home a Junior Stanislas free-kick to earn his side a first away win in eight attempts.

Ake told the Daily Echo: “Scoring was a great feeling. I can’t describe it actually. It’s been tough. Every player wants to play every game. But when you get the opportunity you need to step up.

“I’m really happy. It’s been a long couple of months. I haven’t played but now I got the opportunity. I scored a goal, we won at Stoke and kept a clean sheet so it’s been good!”

Since figuring for Watford against Sunderland more than six months ago the Dutchman had played 13 minutes’ Premier League football, across two early season substitute appearances for Cherries.

But Ake preferred to savour the satisfaction that comes from a hard afternoon’s graft, rather than dwell on the talk about Chelsea.

“I don’t know where that (Chelsea story) comes from,” said Ake. “It came from nothing. I ignore it and focus on what I have to do in training – and focus on Bournemouth.

“This is the feeling you want after games you’ve played. You win and go home on the coach feeling happy. That’s what I’ve missed and now it’s back so I’m delighted.”

Ake couldn’t have asked for a more physical baptism to Cherries' life, with Stoke throwing on imposing pair Peter Crouch and Jonathan Walters as they chased a leveller. That was after the visiting defence had seen off battering-ram centre forward Wilfried Bony, who welcomed Ake back to the fray with a heavy first-half challenge.

“He didn’t mean it,” said a laughing Ake. “He just hit my shoulder, so it’s not too bad.

“Bony is so strong, then Crouch and Walters came on and they had a lot of aerial threat. So it was really, really difficult, but I had a lot of help from Steve Cook next to me.

With six minutes of stoppage time to negotiate – and Stoke’s array of attacking talent finally becoming involved in the contest – Cherries had to battle to see through their victory.

“When you see the six minutes come up, you just think ‘keep fighting, keep going – it can’t happen now’,” said Ake. “We couldn’t concede after all we’d done, all that hard work. Everyone gave everything and it paid off.”

This result was especially timely for Cherries, with matches against Arsenal and Liverpool on their immediate horizon.

Ake has his fingers crossed that he did enough in the Potteries for boss Eddie Howe to retain him in the line-up for Sunday’s trip to Emirates Stadium.

“It was a huge, huge win,” he added. “Because looking at the next two games we have, they’re really difficult games.

“You want to play every game, so of course (I hope I keep my place). But it’s up to the manager. I’ll train hard and we’ll see.”