MANAGER Tom Killick refused to point the finger of blame over Poole Town’s three-point deduction – but admitted his squad had not taken the news well.

Dolphins were penalised for fielding suspended defender Sam Clarke in their 2-1 victory over Redditch United in the Southern League Premier Division on Saturday, December 14.

Club officials contacted the FA as soon as the error came to light but saw the points earned in that fixture wiped off as well as being hit with a £250 fine.

The sanction sees seventh-placed Poole fall eight points behind the play-off places, and while they have several games in hand on their promotion rivals, Killick’s men also have a crippling fixture backlog to deal with.

However, the Tatnam boss, who informed his squad after training last night, was insistent that individuals should not be singled out over the issue and backed Dolphins to overcome the setback in their pursuit of promotion.

Summing up the reaction of his players, Killick told the Daily Echo: “There was a mixture of disappointment and frustration, as you would expect.

“We have a very ambitious, driven group who want to get out of this league so they were always going to take the news badly.

“But one of our strengths is that we have a resilient bunch and they will deal with it in the right way, I am convinced of that.

“On the playing side it is important we do not dwell on it too much because it is easy to let it affect you.

“I think it is important not to get too carried away with it. What happened should not have happened but it is not a terminal blow.

“If we had gone to Bedford on Tuesday and lost, people would not have cast serious doubt over our promotion prospects.

“Personally, I have been responsible for us losing points with the decisions I have made, so have individual players. While it was an administrative disaster that cost us these points, we have to treat it in the same manner.

“Collectively, we have to take it on the chin and move on and it will not create any kind of division within the club.

“We are still more than capable of securing a place in the play-offs and my belief has not wavered at all in the wake of this points deduction.”

A statement from the club’s board of directors on the Poole Town website read: “The oversight – unprecedented in the club’s history – was immediately disclosed to the league and Sam was withheld from the next fixture.

“The club’s procedures, which have served it so well for decades, have been upgraded to ensure there will never be a repetition.

“It is important to state that Sam Clarke is entirely blameless in this matter.

“We can only apologise to the players, management and supporters for this most unfortunate oversight.”