Tarbuck strikes as Magpies sink Saints

BY: Terry Spracklen for Dorset Echo Sport


A solitary second-half strike from Bradley Tarbuck on his first start since December 12 proved enough for the Magpies to clinch victory at the Avenue Stadium. Tarbuck was one of three changes from the midweek starting line-up at Kettering with Chris Dillon and Ben Watson also returning replacing the suspended Charlie Davis, Liam Sayers, who dropped to the bench and Matt Oldring.

The sweeping four-man move which sealed victory and enabled the Magpies to climb to ninth place in the league table was a moment of real quality on an afternoon when free-flowing football was at a premium.

Franklyn Clarke showed great vision and produced a fine pass to substitute Sayers, who had replaced the injured Oakley Hanger in the 28th minute.

The lively Sayers instinctively back-heeled the ball into the path of Watson who in turn passed across the six-yard line for Tarbuck to drill past Saints’ keeper Alex Archer.

The St Neots’ number one was first called into action in the fourth minute when he cut out a curling free-kick from Luke Holmes at his near post following a foul on Toby Holmes by George Casey.

Shane Murphy was then tested by a Drew Roberts’ corner and elected to punch clear under pressure while another Roberts’ centre was hacked clear by Dillon.

Two free-kicks were then delivered by Dan Schiavi, the first claimed by Murphy, the second cleared by Jake Smeeton.

A shrewd pass from Tarbuck picked out Toby Holmes who then found Watson whose shot was smothered at the near post by Archer.

The Magpies suffered a setback on 28 minutes when Hanger limped off to be replaced by Sayers who immediately took up a midfield position with Luke Holmes dropping back to cover Hanger’s defensive duties.

Clarke went close to breaking the deadlock on 33 minutes when he over-powered Saints’ defender Jordan Hayward on the halfway line then surged unchallenged towards the visiting goal only to be thwarted by the alert Archer who saved his shot on the edge of the penalty area. The ball ran loose to Watson whose follow-up effort deflected wide.

A good pass from Schiavi found Peter Clark who rattled the Magpies’ side-netting with a low shot.

Tarbuck then had a shot blocked while Murphy saved a drive from Josh Dawkin as the first half came to a goalless conclusion.

Shortly after the restart, a deliberate back pass from Jermyn was penalised by the award to St Neots of an indirect free-kick barely 10 yards from the goal-line.

At the second attempt, after referee Alexander Fisher ordered the kick to be retaken for encroachment, Dawkin played the ball short to Roberts whose shot was blocked by the determined Jermyn and Murphy.

Archer was again well-placed to cut out a free-kick from Jermyn then raced out of his area to prevent Toby Holmes racing on to a through ball from the Dorchester player-boss.

Roberts and Dawkin both fired wide for Saints while Archer saved with his legs to keep out another attempt from Toby Holmes following a fine ball from Sayers.

A Clarke corner was then met by Jermyn who headed just over while Tarbuck had a shot blocked 18 yards from goal.

But shortly after, Tarbuck was celebrating his full return from injury with the 64th minute winning goal.

Dorchester nearly added a second but Archer pulled off a fine double save to deny Toby Holmes and Watson.

Luke Holmes also saw two shots saved by Archer while Toby Holmes missed the target for Dorchester as did Roberts on two occasions for St Neots.

Sol Ayunga replaced Toby Holmes for the last three minutes and within seconds had a claim for a penalty waved aside as he tumbled under pressure.

Archer ended a busy afternoon in the Saints’ goal by racing out of his area to kick clear from Sayers as he chased a long pass from Watson.

Dorchester comfortably saw out the remaining time.

Magpies: Murphy, Hanger (Sayers 28), Smeeton, Jermyn, Walker, Dillon, Clarke, Luke Holmes, Toby Holmes (Ayunga 87), Watson (Brookes 90+3), Tarbuck. Subs not used: Proffitt, Walker-Harris

St Neots: Archer, Casey, Haywood, Tann, Ward, Anton, Brown (Coulson 67), Schiavi (Akinyemi 79), Clark, Roberts, Dawkin (Hobbs 85). Subs not used: Mazeo-Kelly, Jeckells

Bookings — Dorchester: Jermyn (dissent 74).

St Neots: Dawkin (foul 80)