POOLE Town's Southern League title hopes suffered a sizeable dent as nemesis Ashan Holgate rattled home Chippenham Town's late winner at Hardenhuish Park. 

After a bright start, Dolphins found it tough to break down their gritty hosts who grew in stature and increasingly stretched the table toppers as the game progressed.

And Holgate, who had been a thorn in Poole’s side all afternoon, was on hand to thump a low drive across Nick Hutchings at the second attempt to snatch a 1-0 victory from a keenly-contested match.

Dolphins named three changes from their last league outing after winger Luke Burbidge failed a late fitness test and join Marvin Brooks on the sidelines.

Joe Quigley dropped to the bench as fellow Cherries loanee Matt Butcher made his debut in support of Luke Roberts in attack. Harrison Gilkes started out wide.

Poole started well with Luke Roberts peeling into the left channel before having a shot charged down within the opening minute, while captain Jamie Whisken just failed to connect with Steve Devlin’s inswinging free-kick moments later.

Butcher’s burst down the right had the hosts retreating again with Mason Walsh denied at the far post by Conor McCormack’s last-ditch interception before Butcher chanced his arm from distance.

But after a rocky opening spell, the Bluebirds gradually settled with the burly Holgate proving a nuisance, teeing up Jordan Roberts to hammer a low shot into the arms of Hutchings from the edge of the box.

Hutchings mishit goal-kick dropped for journeyman striker Charlie Griffin but his wild first-time volley flew over the stand and Chippenham's James Guthrie could only force a routine save from Hutchings having been afforded space at the far post midway through the half.

Butcher’s powerful run and sublime lofted ball set Luke Roberts scampering away at the other end but the former AFC Totton striker could not quite get the ball under control.

A curling effort from ex-Cherries youngster Lewis Lindsay swerved round the wrong side of the far post shsortly after but it was Poole who enjoyed a reprieve before the break.

Holgate charged down the left and cut back for the unmarked Alex Ferguson to thump wide a half volley, despite being well placed at the far post.

Full-back Lindsay forged ahead once more and set up Butcher to pull the trigger with a scuffed effort that brought the half to a close.

After a tepid start to the second half, Dolphins went agonisingly close to an opener when Devlin’s delicious, swirling free-kick from deep just evaded the head of Michael Walker and whistled marginally past the far post.

A rare slip by Walker preceded a well-worked move by the hosts which saw Jordan Roberts fire narrowly over with a stinging effort from 18 yards.

As the game became stretched, Michael Pook’s fierce delivery from a free-kick needed the deftest of touches from Walker to head over two Chippenham players who were waiting to pounce.

At the other end, Carl Pettefer’s drive into the box forced a hurried clearance from Matt Coupe before keeper Kent Kauppinen punched clear.

Gilkes then broke forward to catch Coupe in possession but despite Kauppinen charging out and failing to clear, the ball fell kindly for the home defender to tidy up.

The tempo steadied for a short spell but when it picked up again, Chippenham came within a lick of paint of grabbing the lead.

Substitute Luke Ballinger’s free-kick dropped for Ferguson whose snap-shot was pushed on to the inside of the upright by Hutchings before being hacked to safety from a crowded penalty area.

Poole suddenly became rattled with Jack Odam beating Hutchings to a ball down the right, only for Walker to nip across and clear.

The Bluebirds, however, eventually made their pressure count five minutes from time.

Holgate’s initial shot was blocked but ricocheted to a team-mate who found Chippenham’s impressive frontrunner to make no mistake at the second attempt and fire low across Hutchings.

Keith Emmerson teed up fellow substitute Quigley to loft tame finish well over in added time but in truth, Poole laboured in their efforts to rescue a point.


Dolphins: Hutchings 7, Tallack 7, Lindsay 7.5, Walker 8, Whisken 8, Pettefer 7.5, Gilkes 6.5 (Emmerson, 68), Devlin 7, L Roberts 6.5 (Quigley, 58), Butcher 8, Walsh 6.5 (Spetch, 77).

Unused subs: Lowes, Thorpe (g/k).

Bluebirds: Kauppinen, McCormack (Ballinger, 68), Beeden, Coupe, J Roberts, Preece, Ferguson, Pook (Harvey, 72), Griffin (Odam, 66), Holgate, Guthrie.

Unused sub: Tindle.

Booked: J Roberts, Beeden.

Referee: Samuel Allison (Trowbridge)

Attendance: 413.


The Cherries youngster’s power and poise belied his tender years and added much-needed impetus to Poole’s play.

Utilised in the number 10 role behind Luke Roberts, debutant Butcher looked like a seasoned player against rugged, experienced opponents.

Manager Tom Killick lauded his new recruit’s display and said: “Matt’s performance was one of the high points for us.

“He showed good energy and strength and used the ball very well. He played with maturity and the physicality of the game did not seem to worry him.”

Centre-halves Jamie Whisken and Michael Walker were excellent on a tough afternoon and provided a sporadic threat at the other end.