POOLE Town slipped to within four points of the Southern League Premier South relegation zone after a disappointing 3-0 home reverse against Sholing.

Goalkeeper Lloyd Thomas failed to deal with a Jake Hesketh effort, which put the visitors ahead before the break.

Wes Fogden and Jamie Whisken came close to netting for Poole in the second half, whilst at the other end, clinical finishes from Lee Wort and Dan Mason sealed a crucial victory for the Boatmen in their battle to void the drop.

Both teams came into the game at BlackGold Stadium in poor league form. Sholing were winless in six, while Poole had lost 10 of their last 11.

Interim boss James Ellis made three changes from the side which lost at Hendon in midweek. Declan Rose served a suspension, Cameron Murray dropped to the bench, while Jordan Chiedozie has left the club.

Yoan Zouma, Harvey Wright and Billy Lowes came in as their replacements.

There was a lack of quality on show from either side during much of the first half, loanee and home debutant Zouma impressing at centre-back, while former Dolphin Charlie Davis looked to dictate play for the visitors.

But Paul Doswell’s men got their noses in front on the stroke of half-time. Lively winger Billy Stedman got down the left and crossed for Hesketh, the former Southampton midfielder seeing his low effort squirm through the grasp of Thomas and in at his near post.

Dolphins responded well after the restart, with the first 15 minutes of the second period their best of the afternoon.

And they carved out a huge chance to equalise, Harry Hutchinson crossing from the left for Fogden at the back post, who scooped his effort over the crossbar.

Poole were looking to force Sholing back, without ever really testing goalkeeper Ryan Gosney, and were caught on the break midway through the second half.

Lee Wort cut in from the right and expertly fired across goal and into the bottom corner to double the tally.

The Hampshire-based side, who arrived in Poole as the lowest scorers in the division, then never looked liked giving up their lead as Dolphins heads dropped.

Murray, introduced at half-time by Ellis, looked busy in midfield, while Kaya Tshaka and Jake Scrimshaw were also brought on, to little effect.

Poole looked to have pulled a goal back to give themselves hope. Captain Whisken, who ended the game at centre-forward, sent a header beyond Gosney, but Sholing substitute Leon Baker was there to make a vital goal-line clearance.

And there was further punishment to come as the Boatmen added a third through Mason in stoppage time.

Defeat sees Poole slip to 13th in the table, now behind Dorchester Town and former boss Tom Killick. Sholing, now one point behind Poole, move up to 15th.

Dolphins are just four points clear of the relegation zone ahead of two home games this week, against Hungerford Town on Tuesday (7.45pm) and AFC Totton on Friday (3pm).

Dolphins: Thomas, Wright, Zouma (Scrimshaw, 66), Whisken, Hutchinson, Staunton, Lowes (Tshaka, 78), Fogden, Slade, Santos (Murray, h-t), Holmes.

Unused subs: Nippard, Evans (g/k).

Attendance: 603.