MANAGER Tom Killick hailed the versatility of Marvin Brooks after Poole Town had gone within a whisker of stunning National South leaders Maidenhead on their own patch, reports Jack Tanner.

Midfielder Brooks was tasked with leading the line for the Dolphins due to a dearth of fit strikers and appeared to have put them on course for a memorable win at York Road when he drew first blood with 16 minutes remaining.

However, after Poole had defended resolutely and dealt with everything Maidenhead had thrown at them, there was a nasty sting in the tail for the visitors as the hosts levelled deep into stoppage time following a route-one build up.

Christian Smith seized on a headed clearance and finished with aplomb, curling a delightful left-foot strike from 20 yards through a crowded penalty and past the despairing dive of Poole goalkeeper Nick Hutchings to earn the Berkshire outfit a share of the spoils.

Poole had been hoping to become the only team to complete a league double over the high-flying Magpies and the first to lower their colours at home, only for Smith’s majestic effort to help preserve their impressive home record of 15 league games unbeaten.

Boss Killick told the Daily Echo: “Everyone knows that you win games you deserve to lose and, sometimes, you lose games you deserve to win. It’s the same with draws.

“You just have to look at the performance and I felt we were the better team. The players should take confidence from that as well as belief.”

On Brooks’s display, Killick added: “Saying he played quite well would be an understatement – he was brilliant all game.

“He bullied their back line, while being the source of our most dangerous attacks. It was an absolutely immense performance from him in an unfamiliar role.”

Brooks netted after riding a couple of tackles following a mazy run into the box and became only the fifth visiting player to beat Maidenhead goalkeeper Carl Pentney at York Road this season.

Abdulai Baggie had the best chance of an even and fairly lacklustre first half when his shot was superbly kept out by Pentney at the far post.

Poole were convinced they had taken the lead through Luke Burbidge’s header, only for his effort to be controversially ruled out for offside.

Brooks sent the travelling supporters into a frenzy when he broke the deadlock before Smith popped up to save the day for Alan Devonshire’s men with virtually the last kick.

Killick added: “They had one good shot at the end and it was exquisite. It was an exceptional finish.

“I was standing right behind it and their player found the only part of the goal where Nick couldn’t save it or a defender could block it.

“We need to move on and somehow get over the pain of having three points taken away from us.

“The only way to do that is to look at the performance and look at the positives, which is the fact we have taken a point away at the league leaders.”

Seventh-placed Poole host fellow play-off hopefuls St Albans at the Black Gold Stadium tomorrow (7.45pm).

Dolphins: Hutchings, Cooper, Smeeton, Spetch, Whisken, Pettefer, Burbidge, Devlin, Wakefield, Brooks, Baggie (Moore, 68). Unused subs: Gale, Askew, Richardson, Rees (g/k).