Report: Dolphins end season on a high with Cambridge City win

Poole Town receive a Guard of Honour from Cambridge: Photo Credit: Andy Orman

Originally published 24/04/16 on South Coast Journalism

It wasn’t Poole’s finest victory of the season – but the young and experimental side that featured had their moments.

With Michael Walker and Steve Devlin missing due to suspension, many would have presumed to have seen a rotated squad, but not a total overhaul of the system that has proved successful over the season.

Poole fans are normally treated to a 4-5-1 system – but supporters who made the trek up to St. Ives were rewarded with an exotic 3-1-4-2 – with Lewis Linsday playing in his 4th different role of the season – up front in a partnership with Richard Gillespie.

In a slightly deeper role lay Alan Connell, where it was hoped that his sharp vision and passing could be of use – but the dustbowl of St. Ives prevented any form of fluent football.

Marvin Brooks certainly rattled the hosts’ defence, when he shook the bar – hitting the woodwork with a header from a corner, but that would be the first proper chance within the first 10 minutes.

The Lilywhites were next up – putting immense pressure on Poole’s defence that couldn’t seemingly clear – but without creating anything of real danger.

That would be the main theme of the game early on – half-chances and wide shots followed. A prime example was Lindsay’s free kick that deflected out for a corner as it crept under the wall.

But the aforementioned pitch was causing problems – the bobbly surface causing problems for both sides.

Despite Poole’s slightly weakened defence and an outlook to attack, their record breaking streak of 7 games without conceding would come to an abrupt end – Lilywhite captain Buster Harradine had the luck of the green with ball the bouncing kindly for him – and poorly for Hutchings.

Neither player could claim a touch on the ball – which was taken away from Hutchings, allowing Harradine an open goal to slot the ball into.

It was slightly against the run of play, but Cambridge had been growing into the game – and had capitalised on the pitch’s randomness.

The rest of the first half went past like a blur – again neither side dominated, but neither side generated anything of note – all the hallmarks of a pre-season friendly.

Along came the second half, which promised to be even more exciting – Cambridge ‘keeper Zac Barrett producing a camera save to tip away a deflected Connell shot – before being forced into a fine stretched save from the corner.

Both shotstoppers’ were in top form – Nick Hutchings did well to get down to a header flicked goalward by James Hall – but at the other end, Barrett would also be beaten – as Luke Roberts grabbed his 13th goal of the campaign in a late attempt to knock Marvin Brooks off the top of the goal-scoring charts.

Lewis Lindsay knocked down a Luke Burbidge cross to Roberts, who glided into the box to slot the ball underneath Barrett and into the back of the net.

The goal caused a flurry of substitutions, as Tom Rees made his first league appearance as he replaced Hutchings – the first time the goalkeeper has missed minutes in the Southern Premier.

Ryan Kelly also made his league debut, substituting Richard Gillespie. Jack Dickson came on to replace Alan Connell in his last game before he sets off to the USA.

After grabbing an assist, Lindsay was hunting for his first Poole Town goal – and would come close when he forced Barrett into blocking his effort with his feet whilst one-on-one.

Shortly after, Barrett would block Burbidge’s cross-cum-shot with his midriff, the ball falling to Brooks – who thought he had won a penalty as he was seemingly barged over.

However, with the appeals waved away, Poole would snatch a winner with 7 minutes to play – and Lewis Lindsay would grab his first goal in Poole colours.

Brooks flicked the ball on with his head, which fell to the feet of the arriving Lindsay right in front of the far post – allowing the defender-turn-striker to poke home and reignite Poole’s celebrations. The game petered out, with the Dolphins ending the season with an immense 22 points from their last 24.

Weymouth and Kettering’s late play-off pushes ultimately fell short, leaving Leamington, Hitchin, Hungerford and Redditch withthe opportunity to join Poole in promotion.

This is the first time in 15 attempts that Poole have left the Southern Premier thanks to promotion – across the years Poole have been relegated 5 times (1960, ’63, ’73, ’83, ’92) in 6 different spells.

Next year will be Poole’s first in the National League.

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