FOUR-GOAL hitman Richard Gillespie fired Poole Town to within striking distance of the play-offs then declared Dolphins' season would be a “failure” should they miss out.
Gillespie continued to make a mockery of his long-term injury woes as he consummately put to the sword a poor Banbury United outfit in last night's one-sided 4-1 victory at Tatnam.
The man affectionately known as 'Mr Goals' opened his account with a slide-rule finish under Puritans keeper Scott Dutton on 12 minutes before glancing home Ekow Elliott's centre late in the first half.
Poole's prolific marksman took the matchball by stroking home a 51st-minute penalty after he had been fouled by clumsy defender Ian Abrahams and completed the rout with an tidy touch and finish from substitute Charlie Davis's low centre on the hour.
The impressive haul made it 15 goals from just 11 Southern League starts despite a campaign disrupted by plantar fasciitis - an inflammation of the tissue on the sole of the foot.
Gillespie, who marked his first start since coming back with a goal at Redditch last week, told the Daily Echo: “It's nice to get back among the goals straight away because it normally takes a while.
“A lot of aspects of my game are still very rusty, things like the timing of headers, control and a bit of sharpness, but I think there are certain things you just don't lose.”
Dolphins are now three points behind fifth-placed Cambridge City with two games in hand and four adrift of Stourbridge, who visit Tatnam tomorrow (7.45pm), with four extra matches to play.
And Gillespie, whose net-busting antics helped Bashley to the Southern Premier play-offs six years ago, insisted Poole should consider themselves as one of the league's leading lights.
“If we didn't get in the top five, we would have to consider our season a failure,” he added.
“In terms of ability, we are among the best three teams in this league. Hemel Hempstead and Chesham are up there with us but I believe there is no one better.
“The fixture backlog may be a disadvantage but factors like motivation and momentum are massive as well and automatically put you in a more confident frame of mind.
“This club has had a winning mentality for a number of years and those lads together with the more experienced players can make all the difference.”
Poole boss Tom Killick expects to have Lamin Dibba and Billy Lowes back for the crunch clash with Stourbridge and hopes Keith Emmerson and Carl Pettefer may recover from injury in time.
Gillespie, withdrawn “as a precaution” after 69 minutes against Banbury, faces a late fitness test.
Dolphins: Thomas, Burbidge, Martin, Wannell, Whisken, Brooks (Davis, 56), Davies, Devlin (Cann, 56), Gillespie, Chiedozie (Charles, 58), Elliott. Unused subs: Preston, Hutchings (g/k).
- Poole Town have set admission for adults and concessions at just £5 for tomorrow's match. Under 16s can watch for free.