PERHAPS Eddie Howe should patent his Pitman stick and bottle his Eau de Brett.

Whatever his secret, Howe’s magic seems to be paying off.

In successive home games, the two sides to Jekyll-and-Hyde Cherries striker Brett Pitman have never been more evident.

Big, bad Brett was an angry young man during Cherries’ defeat by Notts County, his petulance drawing deserved criticism from sections of the crowd.

However, the 21-year-old was back to his brilliant best against Rochdale, his clinical hat-trick spearheading Cherries to a potentially-crucial victory.

Arguably a touch fortunate to have kept his place following two ineffective displays – he was anonymous at Bury – Pitman is proving difficult to leave out.

Since Howe took the reins on a permanent basis, Pitman has started all but two games and scored 10 goals. The two matches he missed both ended in defeat, at Chesterfield and Gillingham.

Despite his frustrating nature, Cherries are less of a threat without the enigmatic Channel Islander – and Howe knows this.

But whereas previous managers may have either lost patience or given up on Pitman, Howe continues to persist and Cherries are reaping the rewards.

A comforting arm around his shoulder and the occasional flea in his ear, in private, seem to be having the desired effect.

Howe is constantly on Pitman’s case and his approach is certainly proving more beneficial than issuing a public dressing down or giving him the silent treatment.

The real Brett Pitman, the one Cherries supporters would like to watch week in, week out, had his game-head on against Rochdale after starting in his more favoured striker’s role.

“I wanted to get Brett back up front where he’s best,” explained Howe. “I still think he can play left midfield but I thought he proved a point to himself with three well-taken goals.

“He is capable of performances like that where he is almost unplayable. He is also prone to showing a frustrating side, which was evident in the last home game.

“When things aren’t going his way, he just needs to try to react a little bit better because when things are going his way, he’s got all the ability in the world. If, somehow, we can work on the other side of his game, we could have a real player for the future.”

This victory, however, was no one-man show.

In the build-up, Howe had asked his charges to rediscover their “lives depend on it” approach. They did and Rochdale did not know what had hit them.

Howe added: “We were back to our best, more without the ball in terms of closing down and work rate. We made it very difficult for Rochdale to play and that pleased me the most. We made it a really uncomfortable afternoon for them.

“We made it difficult for them to play their natural passing game but I still think they are a very good side. It thought 4-0 perhaps flattered us a little.”

Although there was an element of good fortune about Cherries’ opening goal, there was certainly nothing fluky about the result.

Liam Feeney set the tone for a lively first-half display when he burst down the right flank and crossed low for Pitman just 12 minutes in.

His first-time shot struck luckless Dale defender Simon Ramsden and looped over helpless goalkeeper Frank Fielding.

It was the first of many electrifying runs from Feeney, whose wing wizardry was reminiscent of Wade Elliott. John Bailey, another famous son, would also have approved, as he looked on from his seat in the East Stand.

Bailey doubtless joined the rest of Dean Court in marvelling at Feeney’s exploits as the former Salisbury man doubled Cherries’ lead midway through the first half.

The 21-year-old grabbed a memorable maiden Football League strike with a sublime left-foot finish after leaving marker Tom Kennedy trailing in his wake following another searing turn of pace.

Another sterling defensive effort ensured Rochdale hardly got a sniff of goal, the division’s leading goalscorers blunted for only the second time in 32 games.

With Danny Hollands leading from the front, Cherries also scored a resounding victory in the battle for midfield supremacy as the Dale supply lines were cut.

For the record, Shwan Jalal’s first save of note came three minutes before half-time after Adam Le Fondre had let fly from just outside the 18-yard box. It was one for the cameras.

After Pitman’s father had scooped first prize in the half-time draw, dad Brent watched his son bag his second and Cherries’ third after 67 minutes.

A well-executed left-foot finish into the bottom corner gave Fielding no chance, while the on-loan Blackburn goalkeeper was also powerless as Pitman pounced to complete the scoring with another composed strike on the stroke of full-time.