TOM Killick challenged his Poole Town players to cut the gap to the Southern League South play-off spots – starting with tomorrow's trip to fifth-placed Merthyr Town.

Dolphins sit five points and four places behind Merthyr ahead of the battle at Penydarren Park (7.45pm).

Poole failed to make significant inroads towards the top five with consecutive away draws in their past two league outings but they still have games in hand on their rivals.

Boss Killick says the trip to Wales is a "very important game" as his side attempt to mount a charge up the table.

"Merthyr are one of the sides we are looking to claw back ground against," said Killick.

"It is very important we don't lose the game because we are mindful of the gap between us and the play-off places not becoming too big and Merthyr occupy one those places at the moment.

"We need to stay in touch and create pressure. It is vital from our point of view that the teams in the play-off positions feel under pressure from teams below because sometimes that can affect and impact on their performances and results.

"We are mindful of the situation and we want to be as close as possible to those teams."

Merthyr impressed in recent home wins against Tiverton and Wimborne before drawing with Kings Langley on Saturday.

Killick has a fully fit squad to choose from for the match after the 1-1 draw at Beaconsfield.

Dolphins face the challenge of a 3G pitch at Merthyr, but the Poole boss admits the prospect of a vociferous crowd is more daunting than the artificial pitch.

"We train on a 3G pitch every week," said Killick. "It is not anything like the advantage it was for sides who had those pitches in the past.

"The only thing, in a minor way, is that each 3G seems quite different in how they play, with the pace and bounce off the surface, so the home side has the advantage in relation to that, but it is fairly minimal now.

"It is not the pitch that makes Merthyr a difficult proposition when they play at home, for our standards and the league we are in it is quite an intimidating place to play with certain aspects of it.

"The crowd get right behind them but I think we enjoy that. We would much rather go to somewhere with a bit of atmosphere, rather than go somewhere with 50 people.

"Without being disrespectful to Beaconsfield they're average attendance is about 70. You would much rather be in games where there is a good atmosphere around the ground and that will definitely be the case at Merthyr.

"It is just the sort of game you want to play. The players need to go out and enjoy it."

Dolphins: (from) Cairney, Alawode-Williams, Leslie-Smith Spetch, Whisken, Dickson, Griffin, Moore, Constable, Brooks, Roberts, Gillespie, Bedford, House, Smeeton, Pettefer.