Penalty hero Hutchings (Photo Credit: Andy Orman)
Originally published 09/04/16 on South Coast Journalism
Nine-man Poole thought that they had the world against them on Saturday, as they were held to a deadlock by one of the chasing pack.
Poole faced their hardest challenge left – a tricky tie against third placed Hitchin Town.
A win for the hosts would have put them right back in a title race Poole were leading – a win for the visitors could have put it almost out of sight.
Lewis Lindsay and Abdulai Baggie missed out due to injury, but Jack Dickson returned to supplement an area of the pitch perhaps slightly bareboned.
It wouldn’t be an immediate classic – the action took a while to get going. After almost a quarter of an hour played, along came the game’s first proper chance – which was dealt with by Jamie Whisken, who had to rise above his marker and deal with a dangerous Kane Smith cross.
Hitchin would come back with an even better chance – Smith again the supplier as he slipped in Jonny McNamara, who could only flash his effort wide of Nick Hutching’s far post. It was the most dangerous the hosts would look in the first half.
Poole would begin to look dangerous not long after – Marvin Brooks flicking on a Will Spetch free-kick to Tony Lee, who could only win a corner kick with his effort.
Then, Luke Roberts would glide through the Hitchin defence, before setting up Lee – who again missed the target.
But that was the end of any real first half action – but the second half really heated up.
The first real chance of note saw Roberts cut through the Hitchin defence again, but Charlie Horlock was alert to rush out and prevent a shot.
Shortly after all hell would break lose, as a scramble in Poole’s box would lead to Michael Walker blocking a shot – and receiving a red card for his troubles. The referee saw handball, and thus, also awarded a penalty.
With Poole incensed, up stepped a nervy Lewis Rolfe – but Nick Hutchings guessed right, pushing the ball away, and out for a corner.
It meant the shotstopper kept his cleansheet record, stretching it to 4 games on the trot.
Even with the man disadvantage, Poole were still looking to grab a goal – Brooks had two quickfire opportunities, but he could make nothing out of them.
Things would get even worse for the Dolphins – Steve Devlin would pick up a second yellow for an apparent dive – again, much to the frustration of the Poole team. Similar circumstances had occurred prior, but there was no punishment given.
Hitchin smacked the bar late on in the game’s last proper chance – before defender Ben Walster joined Devlin and Walker down the tunnel. Whilst the other two received their marching orders for handball and simulation respectively, Walster flew into a late tackle, catching Pettefer with both feet on the ankle.
That was the last flashpoint in a tetchy affair during game time, but there were some afters once the final whistle blew.
Results elsewhere couldn’t knock the Dolphins out of top spot, who still have a healthy 4 point lead.
However, it wasn’t for lack of trying – Redditch put 5 past Dorchester, to keep the title race going for just a little while longer.