Dolphins extend lead, Shephard rescues Terras & Magpies win two on the spin

Poole Town bounced back from their shock county cup exit to Sherborne with a comfortable victory over third placed Leamington to extend their lead at the top of the southern premier league to 8 points.

Going into the game Leamington were seven points adrift of Poole and looked as though they were going to be Poole’s nearest challengers, but the Dolphins dominated proceedings at Tatnam, and in truth it was a far more comfortable victory than the scoreline would suggest.

Gosport Borough loanee Lee Wort had a good early opportunity when he broke clear of the Brakes defence. He tried to round goalkeeper Tony Breedon but the goalkeeper did well to get down and thwart the striker.

But the Dolphins didn’t have to wait much longer for the breakthrough. On twenty minutes Luke Burbridge’s cross was met at the back post by Brooks, whose diving header flew into the bottom corner of the net to give the Dolphins a priceless lead.

There was then a brief hold up in play due to a smashed floodlight, but when the game was allowed to continue the Dolphins remained on top, and Leamington’s task was made even harder on 37 minutes when Jack Edwards saw two yellow cards in quick succession and was given his marching orders.

Lee Wort was having an excellent debut, and he came close to doubling the lead before the break when he fired narrowly over the bar from the edge of the area, before forcing an excellent save from Tony Breedon minutes later. 

Leamington offered next to nothing all afternoon – their best chance coming on the stroke of half time when a shot from a corner looped up off a defender and was comfortably caught by Hutchings.

Poole continued to control the game in the second half, but they never really fashioned any clear cut opportunities to double their lead from open play. They were quite literally handed a golden opportunity to kill the game off fifteen minutes from time when Luke Roberts’ shot was handled on the line by Hook. The defender was given his marching orders meaning the visitors finished the game with nine men. However they were given a glimour of hope when goalkeeper Tony Breedon guessed correctly to save Steve Devlin’s spot kick.

But the nine men failed to fashion one last chance, and the Dolphins played out the final few minutes quite comfortably to claim three points that puts them eight points clear at the top of the table, ahead of the nearest challengers Chippenham, and a further point clear of Hungerford who they welcome to Tatnam on Tuesday night in another promotion six pointer. A victory there, and you have to say it would take a collapse of epic proportions from the Dolphins this time around for them not to go up.

They are now fourteen points clear of Weymouth, after the Terras needed an injury time penalty to snatch a draw at in-form Stratford Town.

The hosts had won their previous four games scoring 12 goals in the process, but it was the Terras who began the brighter of the two sides – Shephard cutting in from the left and forcing a spectacular diving save from Andy Kemp in the Stratford goal in the seventh minute.

Gradually Stratford came into the contest. Jack Roberts had a low drive which went narrowly wide, before the hosts spurned an excellent opportunity to go in front.

Michael McGrath’s cross fell perfectly for Anthony Charles at the back post, but somehow the big defender volleyed over when it looked easier to score.

Weymouth then had young Fulham goalkeeper Andrew Dawber to thank when he pulled off an excellent point blank save from Simeon Tulloch inside the six yard box.

Weymouth were then forced to reshuffle as Pat Baldwin went off injured. He was replaced by Mark Molesley who went on in midfield with Chris McPhee dropping back into defence, and he was on hand to make a perfect last ditch tackle when Jamie Sheldon was sent clean through on goal. Calvin Brooks was then on hand to divert Sheldon’s shot behind, as the sides went on level at the break.

Weymouth did a lot of the pressing at the start of the second half, but Stratford somehow survived several scrambles inside the penalty area. Adam Kelly fired over from distance and Chris Shephard was again denied by Kemp.

Dawber then showed his worth again in the 70th minute, saving well from Dior Angus. But there was nothing he could do to deny the host ten minutes later.

Angus worked himself some space and wriggled his way to the byline before pulling the ball back to the edge of the six yard box. It evaded Simeon Tulloch, but Sheldon was following up at the back post – and he smashed the ball home to put Stratford on course for all three points.

Weymouth threw on Tim Sills and began to throw the kitchen sink at their hosts in a desperate attempt to snatch a draw.

Mark Molesley had a low drive which went inches wide, and Chris McPhee fired over from Shephard’s cross, before eventually their pressure paid off deep into stoppage time.

Calvin Brooks surged into the box and was brought down by McGrath for a penalty. Chris Shephard kept his cool – blasting the spot-kick home to send the travelling fans into raptures, and rescue Weymouth a point with virtually the last kick of the match. 

The draw see’s them drop another place to seventh – three points off the play-offs but with games in hand on the sides around them. 

They’ll be glad to have completed a long run of away games, and they’ll be back on home soil against a wildly inconsistent Slough Town on Saturday, for their first home league game in nearly two months.

Their last home league game saw them beat Kings Lynn Town 2-0, and their ridgeway rivals Dorchester repeated that feat at the Avenue on Saturday.

After a fairly uneventful first half, the Magpies came to life in the second half, and almost took the lead within minutes of the restart – Jake Smeeton played in Portsmouth loanee Liam Sayers, and the youngster forced a sharp save from visiting goalkeeper Alex Street.

Sam Gaughran then almost turned the ball into his own net from Smeeton’s cross, before Sayers volleyed over from a long throw just past the hour mark.

The breakthrough finally arrived on 69 minutes – Tarbuck’s delivered an inch perfect cross for Jonah Ayunga to head home to give the Magpies the lead.

Tarbuck then could have got on the scoresheet himself moments later when he was played in by Smeeton, but his shot was straight at Alex Street.

The second goal did arrive nine minutes from time though. Nathan Walker marked his 250th appearance for the county town outfit by scoring the winner in their county cup quarter final at Portland last Tuesday, and he was on hand again to head home Dillon’s long throw to secure a first home win in three, and move them up to eighth place – five points adrift of the play-offs.

They’ll be hoping to make it three league wins on the spin on Saturday when they make the long trip to 15th placed Biggleswade Town. The Waders surprised many with their strong start, but they have been stuttering ever since their impressive victory at Weymouth – winning just one of their last nine games.

JAMES SPRING