Poole celebrate lifting the trophy (Photo Credit: Andy Orman)
Originally Published 20/04/16 on South Coast Journalism
Poole Town saw out their home campaign by beating basement boys Bideford – but at times the end of season clash felt like a pre-season friendly.
The hosts handed a first start to Jamie Granger, and they would be on top throughout the majority of the first half and the entire game.
Marvin Brooks showed his keen eye for goal when he tested Kyle Moore after 30 seconds. The ‘keeper eventually dealt with it, taking two bites at the apple to keep the ball under his control.
Whilst the home side did venture forward quite a bit in the opening quarter of an hour, it was a slightly tepid start compared to Saturday – when the Dolphins found themselves 1-0 up within three minutes.
Luke Burbidge fizzed a shot across the face of goal, as well as Brooks and Tony Lee seeing close range shots blocked, but there was no real danger for the visitors, who have known their fate for quite some time.
With nothing to play for, neither side showed the energy and pressing ability that was evident in the reverse fixture, which Poole also won.
However, the game wasn’t completely devout of any real quality – Steve Devlin displaying both technique and vision with a sublime volleyed pass to the feet of Lee, who couldn’t match the skill shown – his effort bouncing wide of Moore’s goal.
Michael Walker, back from suspension, had the next best chance as he headed over from a Devlin freekick – before Brooks also placed a header off target from a corner.
But the Robins weren’t completely dominated – almost punishing Poole for some lazy passing with an interception.
Ben Wood was unable to make anything of the gifted opportunity as he fired well wide.
The last proper chance of the half would fall to Granger – whose long range strike bounced awkwardly in front of Moore, forcing the keeper to tip it round his post.
Into the second half, and the game became more even – Bideford growing into a contest that seemed it would be settled by the one goal.
Poole would be almost caught out again as Granger naively lost possession in his own half – and he had his goalkeeper to thank after Nick Hutchings did well to change direction and get down to a low shot from Matt Andrew, stretching his cleansheet streak to seven games. It has now been 649 minutes since the Dolphins last conceded.
The Tatnam Farm outfit were now in the ascendency, however, proven when Marvin Brooks stretched his rich vein of form to 9 goals in seven games, eclipsing his tally of 7 for the rest of the season combined.
After some proper pinball action in the box, the ball fell to Brooks – after Burbidge, Roberts and Lee had all had a swing at it – who used his left foot for the first time in his streak, picking out the top left corner with a finessed shot.
But if that was a fine goal, substitute Alan Connell’s was finer – Luke Roberts’ cross well left by Burbidge, allowing Connell to acrobatically volley past Moore for just his second goal this season – his first since October.
And Luke Burbidge himself would be rewarded for his selflessness shown for the second goal– by rifling the third home from close range. After a longwinded run that came out of nowhere, the wideman left Moore stranded as he powered home his 11th goal of the season.
Most Poole fans will not remember this as a key moment in their title winning campaign – but for the celebrations that followed.
Poole visit Cambridge City for their last game of the season, where they will be without the services of Michael Walker and Steve Devlin, both due to suspension.