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FA Cup: Dominant Poole progress despite Cann's dismissal
TEN-MAN Poole defied the odds with a dominant second-half display to see off Hungerford Town and move to within one stage of the FA Cup first round proper.
Despite skipper Dan Cann’s dismissal on the stroke of half-time, Dolphins managed to build on Jon Davies's sixth minute strike and sealed their safe passage through Marvin Brooks with 19 minutes to play.
The 2-0 success earned the Tatnam outfit a cool £7,500 in prize money, as well as a place in Monday's fourth qualifying round draw where clubs from the Conference National join this weekend's winners.
The hosts started well and raced into an early lead when fleet-footed winger Carl Preston beat Mark Hughes for pace before centring for Davies to overpower his marker at the far post and find the roof of the net.
Dolphins continued to look spritely, particularly out wide with Cann aiding and abetting his wingers to force the errors from the visitors.
The captain was at the hub of most things, getting tangled up with team-mate Jamie Whisken in front of goal before marginally over-hitting a throughball for Brooks as Poole probed for a second.
Another smart exchange between Cann and Davies played in Brooks once more, but the on-rushing midfielder was hustled off the ball by Crusaders skipper Matt Day.
Poole had a strong penalty appeal waved away when Brooks and Day clashed in an aerial battle as the first-half drew to a close, but that was to prove the start of a series of decisions which saw referee Mark Lawrence become the pantomime villain.
The Somerset-based official was again at the eye of the storm when Cann, controversially booked 10 minutes earlier, received a second yellow for not pulling out of a challenge on Day right in front of the Hungerford dugout.
Boos continued to ring out for the man in black seven minutes after the restart when he only booked visiting full back Hughes for clattering Brooks, now in the lone striker’s role, with an overzealous challenge from behind.
But despite their numerical disadvantage, Tom Killick’s charges still managed to impose themselves on the game and came close to a second when Will Spetch’s thumping goal-bound effort was somehow headed off the line by Luke Brewer.
Home keeper Nick Hutchings was forced into his first meaningful save just after the hour when Day’s blasted free kick whistled through the wall, but despite being unsighted the Dolphins custodian parried it away.
The pressure was gradually building as the visitors launched balls into the box and tried to unnerve Poole.
However, the tireless Brooks was right on cue to plunder a crucial second, steering Devlin’s deep free kick from the right inside Paul Strudley’s far post after Alan O’Brien had needlessly chopped down Sam Clarke on the touchline.
With 11 minutes to play Brewer latched onto Spetch’s defensive header but Dolphins full back Clarke typified Poole’s never-say-die spirit by diving in to charge down his venomous dipping drive.
And the visitors knew their luck was out when O’Brien’s ball to the back post was delicately played by substitute Josh Grace-Parsons to Stefan Brown who managed to clear the crossbar from two yards out.
Late in the day, Poole substitute Ekow Elliott pelted the post when clean through, but it was already mission accomplished for Dolphins whose cup dream took another giant step towards becoming reality.
Dolphins: Hutchings, Clarke, Spetch, Cummings, Whisken, Pettefer, Brooks (Byerley, 88), Devlin, Davies (Elliott, 86), Preston (Charles, 90), Cann. Unused subs: Gillespie, Richardson, Dickson, Thomas (g/k).
Goals: Davies 6, Brooks 71.
Booked: Cann, Preston.
Sent off: Cann.
Hungerford: Strudley, Hughes, Stanley, Boardman, Day, Rees (Horgan, 60), Gray (Stow, h-t), Brewer, Goodger (Grace-Parsons, 60), Brown, O’Brien. Unused subs: Draycott, Clark, Herring, Hopkins.
Booked: Stanley, Hughes.
Referee: Mark Lawrence (Bridgwater)
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