NEXT to Lauri Dalla Valle and his shock of blond hair, Danny Hollands would probably look pretty inconspicuous.

But while his new Finnish team-mate will probably hog most of the headlines from this stroll in the park, it was Hollands who posted a timely reminder of his unquestionable worth to this remarkable Cherries team.

For every ounce of Marvin Bartley’s commitment and energy, the importance of Hollands’s goals simply cannot be underestimated.

While many members of Eddie Howe’s squad forgot where the goal was during last season’s epic promotion campaign, Hollands was doing his best to back up Brett Pitman by bagging six goals of his own.

The 25-year-old also found the net six times the previous |season, again only denied the club’s golden boot by Pitman’s exploits.

In 2007/2008, Hollands scored four times in vain as Cherries were relegated thanks to the Football League’s 10-point |deduction for entering administration.

From the most influential men in the middle of recent years, Matt Holland bagged 18 goals in two-and-a-half years at the club, while Garreth O’Connor registered 24 during his permanent spell at Dean Court.

Indeed, Hollands’s 23 goals since 2006 compares more than favourably with some of Dean Court’s finest ever goalscoring midfielders.

Without meaning to go on, you get the point.

Howe, though, saw Bartley as the attractive acquisition when running the rule over his former players as Burnley manager, but if he had had the privilege of watching Hollands’s dogged display on Saturday, he might well have asked for a time machine.

Oldham were pestered into a weak submission by Hollands’s desire, both on the ground and in the air, and, alongside the equally-impressive Anton Robinson, Lee Bradbury’s central duo were the catalysts for a victory during which Cherries barely got out of second gear.

They didn’t need to.

Hollands’s finely executed header midway through the first half all but did for Paul Dickov’s visitors, whose demons and doubts reared their ugly heads once again during a woeful second-half capitulation.

In stark contrast to all this talk of goals, goals, goals, Oldham have failed to find the net in six games – or more than nine hours if you prefer.

Yet they were, before the weekend, considered one of Cherries’ promotion rivals – which makes the way Bradbury’s men systematically dismantled them with consummate ease all the more worrying for Huddersfield, Peterborough, Charlton and MK Dons.

Oh, and Southampton, but more on them later.

In terms of this match, Cherries could have racked up a cricket score.

Liam Feeney was thwarted by Ben Amos early in the second half, the Latics goalkeeper turning the winger’s powerful drive round the post.

Then, Michael Symes, scorer of Cherries’ second on 47 minutes, had the ball in the net again 20 minutes from time only to see his effort ruled out for offside.

Symes’s strike just after half-time was a killer blow for Dickov’s shattered players and as their heads dropped further, the introduction of Dalla Valle on 70 minutes could not have been more timely from Bradbury.

The 19-year-old loanee’s first touch sent Symes racing clear for the aforementioned ‘goal’ and some sublime, deft touches had the Dean Court faithful purring in appreciation.

The Fulham striker, though, who described himself as ‘clinical’ in Saturday’s Echo, saved his party piece until the 81st minute when he latched on to fellow substitute Steve Fletcher’s neat flick-on and blasted a venomous drive past Amos and into the far corner from just inside the Latics box.

But on to the ‘cup final’.

While the easy nature of this result may not be ideal preparation for what lies ahead, March 12 will be too early to throw up any near-certainties in this mesmerising race for League One promotion.

But Bradbury will feel that, with Dalla Valle in the ranks, Mark Molesley returning from injury, Michael Symes and Danny Ings both in form, a rock solid back four and the best goalkeeper in League One, he is in a better position than that of his predecessor to take on the, er, ‘might’ of Southampton.

The next five days simply cannot go quick enough.

Bring it on.