THE WHITE Tigers started 2018 with a deserved 3-1 victory over Poole Town to complete a festive double over The Dolphins.
It was a perfect start for us as Niall Thompson, in for the injured Billy Palfrey, hit a speculative effort from distance that carried in the wind and beat the ‘keeper to make it 1-0 within the opening two minutes.
The opening exchanges saw us ask the majority of questions and an inviting ball into the danger zone from Tyler Harvey in the tenth minute was scrambled clear ahead of Cody Cooke.
Then Cooke showed good strength to hold off his marker and get in a low strike that was well saved by the visiting ‘keeper.
The wind was certainly playing its part in proceedings and a free-kick from Ed Palmer was delivered deep into the area as the ‘keeper was alert to make a good claim under pressure.
The visitors had their first real opportunity on 18 minutes when Devlin did well to make room for a strike that was on target but well saved by Tom McHale.
A sharp break by The White Tigers ended with Noah Keats denied by the ‘keeper on the edge of the area.
The White Tigers were able to double our advantage on 25 minutes when the visitors failed to clear their lines as Aaron Lamont picked up the loose ball to find Cody Cooke who in turn set up Ben Gerring for a simple chance from close range.
There were chances at either end in the wake of the goal as Lamont and Devlin went close but were unable to add to the scoring.
Some sloppy defensive play by the visitors from a Gerring cross saw the ball cleared as far as Connor Riley-Lowe who picked out Cooke and he was denied by a smart save.
The visitors went close with a deft effort from Devlin which forced McHale into a great save as Poole Town looked to get themselves back into the game as half-time approached.
Good, positive play out wide by Riley-Lowe saw his cross pick out Thompson on the far side and he controlled the ball well before getting in a strike that stung the palms of the visitors’ ‘keeper.
We were good value for our two-goal lead going into the interval but it was the visitors who began the second period with purpose.
A deep cross from the visitors saw McHale do well to fingertip the ball off the head of Moore who was waiting in the middle.
A series of corners from the visitors caused concern before a free-kick in a promising position was deflected just wide. Then Gillespie saw a strike saved well by McHale.
An effort from Cooke was well saved by the ‘keeper who then claimed the resulting corner as we launched a rare foray forward in the second period.
Cooke showed good pace to break away but his strike was dragged just wide of the target. The next raid saw Harvey fire over following some positive play in the build-up from Riley-Lowe.
Neat link-up play between Harvey and Thompson saw the latter get in a strike that was tipped over acrobatically by the ‘keeper.
The all-important third goal arrived courtesy of a purposeful and pacy break on the left which saw Riley-Lowe make it 3-0.
The visitors were able to pull a goal back late on when Balmer’s strike found its way home with the aid of a slight deflection. The same player then saw a powerful drive sail just over before seeing McHale make a great save from point-blank range.
In stoppage time The White Tigers rattled the post then had a goal ruled out for offside as we ran out worthy winners to start the New Year with three points.
WHITE TIGERS: McHale, Thompson, Riley-Lowe, Palmer, Gerring, Richards (Hartridge), Lamont (Allen), Keats, Harvey, Cooke, Harding (Neal). Subs not used: Yetton, Copp.