EKOW Elliott’s third match winner in six days fired Poole Town to within touching distance of the play-offs as title-chasing Chesham United were professionally put to the sword last night.
Having struck the only goal at St Albans City and against Hitchin Town, Elliott made it a hat-trick of decisive goals when he turned home a loose ball to settle a cagey contest with five minutes to play.
The 1-0 victory was no less than Dolphins deserved from a keenly-contested game of few chances in which the visitors, who had been on a 12-match winning streak, failed to trouble home keeper Nick Hutchings.
Steve Devlin’s fizzing drive flashed wide of the upright and Luke Burbidge’s volley from an acute angle brought out the best of Generals keeper Shane Gore, but there was little more goalmouth action during the first 45 minutes.
Poole kept probing after the interval but found their imposing promotion rivals, expertly marshalled by former Birmingham City defender Darren Purse, in no mood to surrender their imperious record.
With the match heading for stalemate, Elliott thought he had grabbed the all-important winner with 11 minutes to play but saw his second effort following Jordan Chiedozie’s centre deflected onto the post by Purse.
Having been set up by Elliott’s mesmeric run, Jon Davies should have found the net but dallied in front of goal, allowing Gore to smother his shot at the near post.
However, from the resulting corner, Elliott saved his team-mate’s blushes by netting from close range after Marvin Brooks had worked Devlin’s flag kick back into the danger zone.
Resolute Poole saw out their victory with ease to close to two points the gap on the top five as fellow challengers Hungerford Town were unexpectedly held to a 1-1 draw with Chippenham Town.
Bullish boss Tom Killick told the Daily Echo: “I don’t think anyone could deny that we were worthy winners.
“When you consider what these players have been through with the fixture backlog, they all showed exceptional spirit, desire and determination to get over the winning line.
“We controlled the game from start to finish and made Chesham look a very ordinary side, which they clearly were not.
“I thought we outplayed them in most areas, we were better physically and we retained possession well. It was a really complete performance.”
Having caught up with their fixtures, seventh-placed Poole trail Stourbridge, now just outside the play-off positions, by one point, Hungerford and St Albans by two and Saturday’s opponents Cambridge City by three.
“This weekend's fixture has become immense now,” added Killick. “Suddenly, we have gone from having no hope to having really given ourselves a fighting chance.
“I had started to doubt the players after we lost at Totton and while we have accomplished nothing yet, the way they have reacted has given me great satisfaction.
“We have put ourselves right back in the mix and it would be nice to get 500-600 people down to the Cambridge match to help our final push.”
Dolphins: Hutchings, Clarke (Chiedozie, 63), Wannell, Dibba, Whisken, Pettefer (Charles, 69), Burbidge, Devlin, Elliott, Davies, Brooks. Unused subs: Preston, Davis, Thomas (g/k).