United returned to the south coast for the second time in a week, after Tuesday night’s victory in the FA Cup against Margate. Who can forget the last time we visited Poole Town, a memorable FAC4QR replay which set up the 1st round home tie with Oxford United.
Manager Paul Hughes named an unchanged side for the game against a strange Black & Gold kitted Poole Town, who have taken advantage of sponsorship to change from their traditional red and white halved shirts. Midfielder Jake Sheppard recovering from the Tuesday night game to retain his place as Omar Rowe looked to continue his fine goalscoring start to the season with three goals in just 135 minutes of football so far.
With just 300 fans allowed inside the ground, as no test event had yet been held, the atmosphere was eerily different to the other two appearances here, but at least floodlight issues would not delay the game today!
On a bumpy and threadbare pitch, it was Poole Town that hit the ground running, with United fortunate not to be one down in the first minute. A poor clearance only reached Luke Burbidge who could only find the post with Jack Smith beaten.
With the first United attack, Jake Sheppard did well in midfield, bursting past the Poole defence, before squaring to Dylan Kearney. Unable to get a shot away, the ball cannoned to Scott Shulton whose shot did not trouble former United loanee Mark Childs in the Poole Town goal.
Skipper Liam McDevitt then earned an early yellow card as the referee booked him for a late tackle - maybe a little harsh, but this set the scene for the referees performance for the rest of the game.
On 13 minutes, Sheppard again burst through the Poole defence, but once more his cross failed to find a blue shirt, and the Poole Town goal remained intact.
The United goal was then breached in the 24th minute, when a clearly offside Bailey Rowe received the ball ~ however, the officials flag never went up, and the ball was played past Jack Smith for the opening goal, in controversial fashion.
It was not until the 40th minute that any further meaningful action took place in the half, when a superb crossfield pass from Sheppard found Jack Williams in space, but his shot was well over from the edge of the box.
At half-time, Paul Hughes decided to make a double change, with Scott Donnelly and Rico Greco being introduced for Bay Downing and Dylan Kearney, with the formation moving to a 3-5-2.
United started the second half more brightly, and on 48 minutes they were unlucky not to be awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box as Francis Amartey appeared to be fouled. However, the referee once again didn’t agree with the United players' protests.
On 57 minutes, substitute Rico Greco showed good pace on the left, leaving two defenders in his wake. His left footed cross found Omar Rowe in the middle, but he could not turn the chance in to a goal.
Just a minute later, a great spin by Amartey, now playing in the middle of the United attack, from a Robinson throughball set him free but his shot was blocked.
United were on the ascendancy, and Sanmi Odelusi’s 64th minute throughball saw Amartey turn his man, run though and fire confidently into the net to the goalkeepers right, and United were deservedly level.
The lead was only to last five minutes, however, as Poole Town worked the ball down the right, with a good cross finding Tony Lee whose scissor kick left Jack Smith with no chance and the Dolphins were ahead once more.
As United pressed for the second equaliser, there were a few half chances, mostly falling to Amartey, who continued to torment the Dolphins defence, drawing several fouls on the edge of the box. However, the free kicks did not amount to any real chances and the game was controlled by the home team’s game management tactics.
Report by Andy Corbett.
United Man of the Match: Francis Amartey.
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