Poole’s U18s kicked off their FA Youth Cup campaign away at Bermerton Heath Harlequins with a comfortable 3-0 win.
There was a healthy crowd at Moon Park for this Preliminary Round tie, with one stand pretty much full ahead of kick-off in England’s most prestigious youth cup.
Dolphins named a few players that had featured for the U23s already this season, including Will Butler in goal and Luka Challwell in midfield, both players who have full senior caps for the British Virgin Islands.
Poole kicked off and immediately launched an attack for Stephenson to chase down, showcasing their intent from the first whistle.
Chalwell thought he must have opened the scores when he cleanly volleyed from a corner, and whilst the Bemerton keeper was nowhere near it, a cleverly deployed striker on the line managed to deflect it onto the post.
The British Virgin Islands international would open the scores minutes later, rounding off a lovely passing move that included all of Dolphins’ attackers.
Picking up a loose ball, Challwell scooped it across to Stephenson, who quickly switched the play to Coleman. All Coleman had to do was tee up Chalwell, who calmly slotted home the opener.
Again Chalwell showed his quality on 16 minutes, punishing a poor goal-kick. Receiving the ball just past the halfway line, Chalwell went on a slaloming run that ended with the midfielder placing the ball into the bottom corner.
There were a few full-blooded challenges throughout, but the first card instead went the way of Max Hemway for repeated dissent, kicking the ball away on two separate occasions.
Match official Lucas Bomela again had to blow his whistle when Stephenson was scythed down in the box, offering Chalwell an opportunity to fetch his hat-trick from the penalty spot.
Unfortunately Chalwell miscued his spot-kick, firing it into the trees behind the goal.
Poole would get their third from another set-piece – this time a free-kick on the edge of the area. Stephenson curled the ball around the three-man wall and into the far right corner to effectively seal the game for Dolphins after just 29 minutes.
Bemerton were still yet to have a shot on target to show for their efforts, with Poole in control for the majority of proceedings.
That would slowly change after Poole’s third, with the hosts growing into the game.
A long-range effort after the hour mark sailed into the hands of Butler, launching a spree of Bemerton chances.
Butler was called into action to tip another pot-shot from range, and then did well to save from close range at the resultant corner.
Despite seemingly winning his side a corner, Stephenson was called for a non-existent foul. Much like the bemused crowd around the ground, Stephenson questioned the decision – only to be booked by the match-official.
Stephenson would produce the last memorable moment of the half when he saw his shot denied by the crossbar.
The second-half started off evenly contested, with both sides maintaining their levels of intensity. McMonagh did well to skip past two clumsy tackles to advance into the box, eventually dragging his shot wide of the post.
Bemerton had improved after being dominated, but were gifted a way back into the game from a set-piece on fifty minutes.
Matthews managed to get his head to the set-piece, but only served to send the ball over the head of Butler and into the Dolphins’ net.
The goal galvanised the hosts, who almost converted from the next free-kick they had.
Substitute Jake Forbes quickly restored Poole’s three goal cushion, rushing through the open Bemerton defence to place the ball home on the hour mark.
From then on it was all Poole, with Chalwell again given the chance for a hat-trick from the spot. Awarded due to an apparent handball, the decision was very harsh on Bemerton.
Whilst the goalkeeper did well to get a glove on it, Chalwell finally had his treble after 65 minutes.
The two goals in relatively quick succession ended any home hopes of a comeback, there was added drama after Stephenson was shown a second yellow and then sent to the stands.
Again there was bemusement as the booking came from an off the ball incident, but in all truths the match official had a torrid time, making multiple errors and looking uncertain throughout.
Bemerton still applied themselves against ten-men, smashing the bar from a dipping shot that originated outside the area.
But in truths the fixture was over as a contest, as the weakened Dolphins kept their hosts at bay with little effort.
In the next round Dolphins will go on to play Dorchester Town away from home, after the Magpies beat Fareham 12-0. That fixture will be played 13th September at the Avenue, another 7pm kick-off.
Poole U18s: Butler (g/k), Matthews, Foden, Hemway (Forbes 55′), Stanners, Marsh, Chalwell (Cameron 68′)§, Brown (C), Coleman, Stephenson, McMonagh (Howe 83′)
Unused subs: Ford