Dorchester TOWN 2
Malsom 64, Dovell 90+4
TRURO CITY 3
Pugh 38, Gritton 66, Watkins 77
PHIL Simkin’s reign got off to a miserable start at the Avenue Stadium as Dorchester Town were sunk by lowly Truro City.
Having taken charge on a permanent basis following the resignation of Alan Knight, Simkin was hoping to lead the Magpies to a fourth straight win in Blue Square Bet South.
But it was the White Tigers who claimed the Bank Holiday spoils on a wet and windy afternoon.
Defender Arran Pugh profited from a Nic Jones error to put the Cornish outfit ahead and although the county town side grabbed a deserved equaliser through Sam Malsom’s deflection, City restored their advantage and then doubled it to effectively seal the points and ease any fears of relegation.
The returning Ryan Dovell tapped home in injury-time but it was too little, too late for the eighth-placed hosts.
There were two changes to the Magpies’ starting XI following Good Friday’s late win at Eastleigh.
Tom Nichols returned to parent club Exeter City while namesake Ashley Nicholls missed out through illness.
Taking their places were fit-again striker Ryan Dovell and home-grown midfielder Jamie Symes.
The bench was filled with youngsters, including reserve-team trio Sam Buckler, Danny Way and Steven Walker.
City named ex-Magpie Barry McConnell and Isaac Vassell, nephew of former England striker Darius, in their side but ex-Premier League forward Barry Hayles was only named among the substitutes.
The visitors were playing against the wind in the first half but it was they who registered the first attempt of the afternoon.
However, after intercepting Mark Jermyn’s pass in the corner, Andy Watkins’ wild shot flew out for a throw on the far side.
Dorchester responded in kind and Malsom, without a goal in his previous seven outings, cleverly flicked the ball over the head of Pugh and raced towards Tom Brooks’ goal.
Unfortunately, under growing pressure from the retreating Steve Adams, the county town forward lost his footing at the vital moment and the ball bobbled harmlessly wide.
The wet and windy conditions were making life difficult for both sides, meaning chances were few and far between at the Avenue.
It appeared, given the slippery surface, that a mistake would lead to the opening goal and so it proved seven minutes from half-time as City took the lead.
Scott Walker’s floated free-kick looked harmless enough but miscommunication between Jermyn and Jones saw the latter let the ball slip through his fingers, handing Pugh the simple task of poking home into an empty net.
Dorchester sought an immediate rebuttal and they almost got it three minutes later.
Malsom showed great pace to win the race to Neil Martin’s through pass and nick the ball beyond Truro keeper Brooks.
However, the angle was extremely tight and Malsom was unable to squeeze his shot into the far corner of the goal.
The final action of the half saw Dovell shoot comfortably wide from 20 yards.
The Magpies remained in the ascendancy as the second period got underway with two teasing crosses almost yielding an equaliser.
The first, from Martin, was fumbled by Brooks but hacked to safety by his defenders, before the visiting gloveman redeemed himself with a crucial touch, on Jake Smeeton’s centre, to take the ball away from the unmarked Nick Crittenden.
Martin then volleyed over from the subsequent corner before Kyle Critchell curled wide of the right-hand post following a smartly taken free-kick from Smeeton.
The home side continued to press and they were eventually rewarded in the 64th minute.
Martin’s corner was initially cleared by the Truro defence, but only as far as the same player and his second delivery wasn’t dealt with, allowing Critchell to lash goalwards with the last touch appearing to come off the chest of Malsom.
Having worked hard to restore parity, the Magpies found themselves trailing once more just two minutes later.
Martin Gritton beat the offside trap, despite appeals from the home backline, and produced a cool finish to beat Jones from an acute angle.
The goal breathed new life into the away side and they went close to doubling their advantage when Cody Cooke flashed a superb volley narrowly wide of the top corner.
They didn’t have to wait much longer for their next opportunity and this time it did bring a third goal.
A short corner caught the county town side napping and Watkins – arguably the shortest player on the pitch – glanced a header into the back of the net, despite the efforts of a Dorchester man on the line.
The points were in the bag for the visitors but there was still time for the hosts to at least reduce the deficit deep into stoppage time.
Crittenden’s cross was met by Nathan Walker but pushed on to the bar by Brooks. Malsom’s effort on the rebound was then parried into the path of Dovell and he scrambled home from a yard out.
Dorchester grabbed the ball and raced back to the centre circle, but the final whistle sounded just seconds after the restart. Magpies: Jones, Critchell, Smeeton, Jermyn, N Walker, Gleeson, Crittenden, Symes, Malsom, Dovell, Martin (Worsfold 75). Subs not used: Bell, S Buckler, Way, St Walker.
Truro: Brooks, McConnell, Sc Walker, Pugh, Adams, Ash, Kelly, Cooke, Gritton (Hayles 89), Watkins, Vassell (Yetton 71). Subs not used: Broad, Afful.
* Prior to kick-off, Tom Nichols was named Dorchester Town Supporters’ Club Player of the Month for February and March.