MARK Molesley says Cherries are relishing their new challenge after pulling three points clear at the top of League Two.
Eddie Howes troops maintained pole position by registering a 3-1 win over struggling Grimsby Town at Dean Court.
Alan Connell and Brett Pitman netted either side of a Paul Linwood own goal as Cherries chalked up their 10th victory in 14 league games.
And with Howes charges having remained at the summit since early September, Molesley knows they are there to be shot at.
The midfielder said: We are the team to beat now and every game is going to become that little bit more difficult for that very reason.
Its a new challenge for us but one we have always wanted and one we are all determined to meet.
You only have to look at the results to see how open the league is. We experienced it when we were at the bottom last season because we always fancied ourselves against the teams at the top.
I know it is boring and repetitive but nobody is getting carried away. We think we are still growing as a team and just taking the season step by step. The quality is there in the squad even though perhaps the depth isnt.
Molesley added: I thought we did well against Grimsby and worked hard and pressed them. I felt we tried to press the opposition a little more than we did in our past couple of home games when maybe we didnt impose ourselves enough.
Grimsby had a little spell in the second half where they had the edge and scored their goal. But you are unlikely to dominate games from start to finish. Sometimes, its about weathering the storm and making them pay when you are on top and I thought we did that.
Molesley also heaped praise on goalkeeper Shwan Jalal who again made some important saves at key times and was only beaten by a Ryan Garry own goal.
We appreciate what hes done, said Molesley. He was terrific at the end of last season and has been a vital part this season. Some of the saves he has pulled off have been match-winning saves and its like scoring a goal.
He forced their striker to shot early at the start of the first half when he quickly came off his line to narrow the angle.
If you are going to do well, you need a good goalkeeper behind you and we have certainly got one.
Hes the last line of defence and our record speaks for itself. The lads in front of him have done very well but hes made some vital saves for us.