BOSS Tom Killick conceded Poole Town had a “massive fight on our hands” to finish in the National South play-off places following a disappointing 1-1 draw with Hemel Hempstead today.

Luke Burbidge’s finely-taken equaliser earned the Dolphins a share of the spoils after Ben Greenhalgh’s opportunist strike had given the Tudors a 15th-minute lead.

Burbidge applied the finishing touch after Marvin Brooks had climbed above the visitors’ defence to head Will Spetch’s free-kick into his path after 20 minutes.

A season’s best crowd of 833 converged on the Black Gold Stadium just two days after Poole had been told they would not be allowed to compete in the play-offs if they were to finish in the top five.

The decision – which Poole have appealed – is due to the club not having the required number of seats under cover at its Tatnam venue.

However, Poole’s failure to beat Hemel, coupled with Hungerford’s 2-0 win over Dartford, saw the Berkshire outfit close the gap to just two points on the Dolphins.

“The whole landscape has changed,” admitted Killick. “A couple of results ago, it was looking very likely we were going to finish in the play-off places.

“We have been bleating about the decision of the league but we have to finish fifth before we can do any bleating.

“We have a massive fight on our hands because the difference is now only two points. Hungerford are on a very good run of form and we aren’t so we have it all to do to even finish in the play-off positions.

“If we don’t, it all becomes academic so we can’t lose sight of the fact we still have an awful lot to do on the pitch to even get to a position where there is an issue.

“At the moment, Hungerford are putting us under a lot of pressure so we have to show what we are about and finish strongly over the last three games. After the season we have had, we don’t want it to just fizzle out.”

In truth, Poole were probably fortunate to escape with a share of the spoils after Hemel goalscorer Greenhalgh twice hit the crossbar, his first effort superbly tipped on to the woodwork by Nick Hutchings.

Killick added: “We weren’t really anywhere near our best. We looked lethargic and, in the second half when they got a lot of players behind the ball, we didn’t have any real guile or ability to break them down.

“There didn’t really seem to be an awful lot of energy in our performance. It was all a bit flat.

“I thought Hemel were good. They were set up to play a certain way and it was effective so you have to give some credit to them. It wasn’t just a question of us being poor, they contributed to that in the way they defended.

“But I just felt we didn’t quite get going and it was all a bit lacklustre. It was a shame because there were good numbers in terms of the gate and not many people are going to have gone away very enthused.

“We haven’t had too many bad days. If we could get four points from the two Bank Holiday fixtures it would be a good return but we have put a bit of pressure on ourselves to beat Bath on Monday.”

Dolphins: Hutchings, Moore, Smeeton, Spetch, Whisken, Pettefer (Gillespie, 69, Cooper, 90), Burbidge, Devlin, Roberts, Brooks, Baggie (Granger, 41). Unused subs: Tallack, Rees (g/k).