RELEGATION-HAUNTED Bournemouth Poppies snatched a scruffy late winner to snare three precious points against Verwood – but it was referee Adam Baker who took centre stage.

With the match destined for stalemate, Luke Ingram’s scuffed effort crept beyond the despairing dive of Potters keeper Chris Lynch with five minutes to play to hand Poppies a five-point cushion over the Wessex Premier drop zone.

But visiting boss Adie Arnold directed his ire at man in the middle Baker, who failed to dismiss home keeper Kenny Vaughan Jnr for handball outside the area three minutes into the second half before awarding Poppies a controversial free kick in the build up to the winner.

Town defender Ben Kelly was booked for his tackle from behind before the half-cleared free kick was scrambled home from close range by the fortunate Ingram who had miscued his shot amid the sludge in the penalty area.

At full-time, a crestfallen Arnold told the Daily Echo: “Big decisions like that change games. The goalkeeper should have walked because he was outside the penalty area and if he leaves it we would have had two strikers bearing down on an open goal.

“With 15 minutes left the referee considered calling it a day (abandoning the game) and if you let it go on you run the risk of people sliding in. From my angle he (Kelly) got the ball and it should not have been a free kick. It has cost us.

“I’m not knocking Poppies because we were shocking in the first half and let ourselves down. We should have been dead and buried and to get to half-time at 0-0 was a result.

“We changed things round and were the better side for 20 minutes but we needed to take our chances while we were on top.”

Opposite number Ken Vaughan agreed with Arnold’s assessment over the handball but backed Baker’s call over the free kick.

Vaughan said: “I think Kenny was lucky to stay on the pitch. I had one of those decisions go against me the other week and I sympathise with Adie.

“Apart from that, there were some decisions for both teams which could have gone either way. He (Baker) was cautious and used common sense in the conditions and it would be hard to complain over one decision like that.

“Verwood handled the conditions better than we did but we created more chances and probably deserved our win. We got that bit of luck for a change and it was about time.”

Poppies: Vaughan, Martinez (Pearce, 86), Jackson, Costello, Burgis, Richardson (Saadi, 62), Ingram, Ward, Warren, Owens, Rowley. Unused subs: Hales, Robinson, Turner.

Potters: Lynch, Evans, Murray, Kelly, Oldring, Dyer, Saxby, Webb (Molyneaux, h-t), Lovell, Gajic (Dancer, h-t), Hill. Unused subs: Elysee, Satterley, Rutten.

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