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Dolphins extend lead at the top

Photograph credit: Andrew Orman.

Poole Town strengthened their lead at the top of the Southern League Premier last night with a convincing 3-0 victory against Chesham United at Tatnam.

Marvin Brookes’ sweetly struck half-volley gave the Dolphins the lead mid-way through the first half, before Steve Devlin doubled the lead in controversial circumstances on the stroke of half-time. Ten minutes from time Luke Burbridge sealed the win after a well-worked move with Brookes.

Despite the impressive Jonathan Hippolyte twice hitting the post for Chesham with long range strikes in the second-half, the hosts were good value for a 14th win in 16 home league games this season. And with second-place Weymouth in action tonight, Tom Killick’s men are now five points clear at the top.

After a feisty opening to the encounter, it was Chesham who had the first chance. Tom McConway latched on to Ryan Blake’s lofted through-ball, only for his chip to stray narrowly wide of Nick Hutchings’ goal.

It didn’t take long for Poole to get into their stride, however. The lively Portsmouth loanee Ben Close’s teasing cross found Burbridge lurking at the far post, but his header was comfortable for Gore in the Chesham goal.

Not long later, the hosts were in front. Burbridge worked his way down the right wing and his neat pullback found the impressive Brookes, who fired a half-volley into the far corner.

The Dolphins continued their dominance leading up to the interval and doubled their lead in added time. Chesham’s Dave Pearce was penalised rather harshly, for a back-pass whilst under pressure from Poole frontman Joe Quigley. The decision incensed the visitor’s animated management duo, and their anger grew when Steve Devlin curled the resulting free-kick past all eleven Chesham players and into the top-corner.

With Poole having conceded just five league goals at home this season, the game looked over as the second half resumed at 2-0. That wasn’t despite the best efforts of Chesham’s Jonathan Hippolyte, who fizzed a low 25-yard strike onto the post ten minutes into the second half.

The hosts, sensing work still had to be done, replied immediately. Captain Jamie Whisken’s excellent cross found Brookes, whose wayward effort lacked the composure of his first-half goal. Shortly after, Steve Devlin’s half-volley was easily saved.

The Generals’ star man Hippolyte was then played in at the other end, only for Poole stopper Hutchings to come out quickly and smother his effort. That didn’t deter the 20-year-old. After a superb individual run from inside his own half, he then unleashed another long-range strike which smacked Hutchings’ other post. It was not to be his day.

Hutchings’ services were called into action again when Chesham won a free-kick 20 yards from goal. Danny Talbot’s goal-bound shot was saved well, to preserve what was an 18th league clean sheet of the season.

With ten minutes to go, Poole added a third with the move of the match. The excellent Luke Burbridge played a neat one-two with Brookes before slotting it past Gore to cap another dominant win at Tatnam for the Dolphins, who look increasingly likely to be playing Conference South football next season.