Match Report: Chaotic evening at the Black Gold as Poole Town U23s win on penalties

A somewhat bizarre evening down Tatnam saw a proposed Hampshire Combination & Development Challenge Cup match turn into a glorified friendly – with confusion whether the result will stand.

Away side Andover arrived late, causing a delay to kickoff, but there was almost no game to kickoff when no match officials arrived at the Black Gold.

After some deliberation, the two sides agreed for Poole coach Kieran Burnett to don the whistle – but only a few minutes into the game, with Dolphins officials eventually digging out a whistle from somewhere.

Dolphins lined up with numerous players that featured in the first team’s defeat to Wimborne the night before, with centre-back pairing Louis MacArthur and Harry Hutchinson starting together again.

Poole took an early lead after just four minutes, when Louis MacArthur smashed home from a corner for his second goal in two days.

That was the main difference between the two sides in a keenly contested first-half, that saw neither ‘keeper troubled much.

Dolphins certainly edged proceedings with creating much, but they found a second shortly before the break.

A goalmouth scramble saw the ball collide with multiple players and legs, before it was eventually stabbed home by a Poole shirt, with the aid of a deflection.

The away side almost responded immediately, with a ball begging for a final touch fizzing past Poole’s goal and evading the ensuing striker.

Joe Wickham was released at the interval, and quickly made his mark on proceedings.

Bursting into the box from the left, Wickham picked out Greenwood – who showed composure to take his time, drift slightly wide, and fire a shot off the far post to beat the Andover goalkeeper at a tight angle.

Andover would claw one back from a fine strike on the edge of the area, with an Andover player react quickest to pounce on a loose ball.

The away side continued their comeback with another goal quickly after the second, a deflected strike catching sub goalie Will Butler out.

Poole managed to subdue their opponents before momentum carried them to an equaliser, with Joe Wickham kissing the post with a close-range effort.

A key intervention from a sliding MacArthur turned a promising Andover attack in to a corner, which was just about punched away by Butler.

Dolphins would restore their two goal cushion when Stephenson nestled a Wickham cut back into the top right after 72 minutes.

But again the young Dolphins would let their concentration drop again, allowing Andover to bear down on Butler.

The attacker managed to squeeze the ball past the goalkeeper before the slightest bit of contact from Butler caused his own manager to point to the spot.

Butler could not redeem himself, even though he guessed the right way, and the game was immediately back to a one-goal lead.

Andover continued to catch Poole on the break, and they would find their equaliser on 78 minutes, catching Butler out in an advanced position after a move broke down, allowing an attacker to loft the ball over the keeper.

Disappointed by the capitulation, Poole tried to regain the lead, coming closest through the ever-dangerous Wickham. His rasping drive that was well held by the opposition ‘keeper.

Wickham came even closer but this time was denied by the goalkeeper’s legs.

Poole carried out chucking men forward but Andover had their number one to thank – again he was the hero, tipping another Wickham strike onto the post.

An entertaining game was still to be decided, as both sides agreed to continue as if it was a cup tie.

The tie went straight to penalties, with Poole taking first. Butler produced three saves from seven penalties, giving Poole a 5-4 win after the shootout.

Penalties scored: Wickham, Hutchinson, Pritchard, Medway, Wilkinson

Poole: Rupp (Butler H-T), Marshall (Stephenson H-T), Hutchinson, MacArthur (C), Pritchard, Wooley (Wilkinson 55′), Medway, Mayo, Rossiter (Wickham H-T), Chalwell, Greenwood (Forbes 55′)

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