POOLE Town boss Tom Killick admitted the call to leave out top-scorer Warren Bentley from his starting XI at Braintree Town was “harsh”.

Dolphins suffered their third National South defeat on the spin with a 1-0 reverse at Cressing Road, thanks to a debut goal from Dan Thompson.

Killick made the decision to start with new loan recruit James Constable against the Iron 24 hours after he agreed an initial one-month switch from National League Eastleigh.

Bentley, who has hit 16 of Poole’s 36 league goals this season, replaced Richard Gillespie after 63 minutes.

Manager Killick told the Daily Echo: “It was probably very harsh on Warren, who didn’t start the game, but we just felt we had been missing a bit of physicality up front.

“But when Warren came on in the second half he looked very good and was unfortunate not to score.

“I thought James had a very accomplished debut.

“He was very good. He gave us a physical presence up front as well as a goal threat.”

Dolphins were left frustrated having created numerous first-half opportunities.

Constable’s volley was tipped over the bar by Braintree keeper Nathan McDonald after a corner was only half cleared by the hosts.

A headed effort from the experienced frontman then produced another sharp save before Poole fell behind on 31 minutes.

A cross from the left found debutant Thompson at the far post, who made no mistake in heading in unchallenged.

Poole skipper Jamie Whisken then forced another reaction save as he rose highest to glance a headed effort at goal.

Dolphins came agonisingly close to restoring parity when Steve Devlin’s free-kick cannoned off the far post.

Killick added: “In the first half we probably had five or six really good opportunities to score. It just seemed nothing would go our way.

“They had two opportunities and scored one, so it was frustrating.

“I thought we looked much better at both ends of the pitch. Defensively we restricted them to few chances and we created quite a few chances of our own.

“Good performances don’t always lead to positive results but you hope over a sustained period they will, we just have to keep going.”

The reverse meant Dolphins are still four points from safety with 11 league games remaining.

“Unfortunately, with where we are in the league, it’s not a situation where we can say we will take the positives and move on because we need the points,” added Killick.

“In certain aspects we just have to focus on our performance and hope results will turn.

“Points are a precious commodity and games are running out.

“In different circumstances the mood in the camp would have been a lot better but because we were so desperate for the points, it’s another game that has gone by.”

Killick also expects Jordan Williams to be sidelined for two to three weeks after he was forced off early with an ankle problem.

Dolphins: Hutchings, Williams (Pettefer, 12, Neale 81), Smeeton, Spetch, Whisken, Moore, Baghdadi, Devlin, Constable, Brooks, Gillespie (Bentley, 63). Unused subs: Balmer, Rees (g/k).