It’s been a week for statements of intent from the Cherries both on and off the field.
With the signings of exciting prospects Ryan Fraser and Ryan Allsop, along with striker Brett Pitman, already secured, Matt Ritchie left Swindon to join Eddie Howe’s promotion hopefuls on the south coast on Thursday.
This afternoon they claimed a deserved away win over MK Dons, who had convincingly beaten Harry Redknapp’s QPR in the FA Cup last weekend, to move into third place.
It probably won’t go down as one of the Cherries’ most memorable performances this season after Dons striker Ryan Lowe’s dismissal for a dangerous tackle on Tommy Elphick effectively ended the game as a contest.
But there was plenty of quality and confidence on show in an assured display from the visitors.
Two clinical finishes from Lewis Grabban and Marc Pugh put the Cherries in front at the break, while Harry Arter's spectacular strike in the final ten minutes underlined their second half dominance at stadium:mk.
And as their team left the field, the travelling supporters would have no doubt felt that this victory meant more than just three points with the Cherries being the only team in the top six to record a victory this weekend.
Howe named the same starting line-up which beat Crewe seven days ago, with new signing Ritchie on the bench, and saw his team go into an early lead through Grabban.
The striker intercepted Jon Ostemobor’s back pass before rounding goalkeeper David Martin and side-footing into an empty net after just nine minutes.
Despite the early set-back, Karl Robinson’s men stuck to their patient approach and created chances for Lowe and Ryan Harley, all of which went wide of the target.
The turning point came in added on time just before the break. Lowe flew into a late and reckless challenge on Elphick, who had been unhappy with a tackle from the striker earlier in the half.
Lowe then appeared to kick-out at Simon Francis having been shown the red card by referee Scott Mathieson.
Just three minutes later, Pugh was tapping in the rebound from Grabban’s low shot to give the Cherries a two-goal lead.
Robinson needed a response from his team and sent on Izale McLeod, who started for Portsmouth and scored against the Cherries on the opening day of the season, at the start of the second half.
The striker, re-signed by the Dons in the transfer window, created a few problems with his pace, but it wasn’t long until the Cherries were once again in command.
They looked the only team likely to score, and Pitman went closest with a header from Ritchie's deep cross and a smart turn and finish having been played in by Eunan O'Kane.
There was, however, a reminder that ten-man MK Dons wouldn’t be beaten lying down as Shaun Williams struck the woodwork with little over half an hour to play.
But the chance was one to forget for McLeod, who despite being offside, missed an open goal from the rebound inside the six yard box. It also probably went along way to calming a few nerves in the away end.
The Cherries were in total control for the final twenty minutes and Arter converted the second half pressure into a goal seven minutes from time.
Pitman gave the ball to the midfielder with a quick free-kick, and he promptly smashed it beyond Martin from 25 yards with what will surely be a goal of the season contender.
There was still time left for Pitman to turn Pugh’s cross on to the bar, as well as good news for Howe’s team with results at Bury, Tranmere and Yeovil all going their way.
It was the perfect end to a good week for the men in red and black.
MK Dons: Martin, Ostemobor, Kouo-Doumbe (Smith 62), Williams, Lewington, Chicksen (McLeod h-t), Potter, Lines (Ismail 78), Harley, Bowditch, Lowe.
Unused substitute: Flanagan, Baldock, Alli.
Cherries: Jalal, Francis, Elphick (Ritchie 45), Cook, Seaborne, McQuoid (Hughes 78), Arter, O’Kane, Pugh, Pitman, Grabban (Tubbs 85).
Unused substitutes: Allsop, Partington, Fogden, Fletcher.
Goal: Grabban (9), Pugh (45), Arter (83)