|SUPER TOM GIVES POOLS A POINT|
Pools 0 Swindon 0 Saturday August 18th
Match report by RUNNING MONKEY at Victoria Park
There always seems to be a special atmosphere at the first home game of the season. A new beginning, a few new signings.
Some great displays in the pre-season games, despite the Mags just showing off to their illustrious north-east neighbours by tonking their lowly neighbour. It matters not one jot as we will probably not play them again till next pre-season. It has to be said they are a very slick side and on the day we looked like lowly neighbours. We have been tonked before and survived to fight another day so why worry. Is it only last week we played Crewe and we got tonked, but cup games don’t really count, do they?
After meeting up with the leading member of the Hartlepool RECIDIVISTS, and discussing the Mags game, the cup game and this forth-coming Swindon game, I was ready to go home and give my ticket to the wife. What a bloody pessimistic sod he is, complaining about the defence before he had seen a ball kicked, relying totally on statistics from last season to make his point.
"All water under the bridge", I said. "Tommy Miller will give us a penalty and we will storm home 3-1." "You claim that score every week you come!" he said, "And one day I will be right!" I chimed.
Super Tom was given a good rousing Poolie cheer on the announcement of the visiting team. Remember only a few short weeks ago he was desperate to become a born-again Poolie. "Never heard of Mr Brown the ref" says Ken, who is a bit of a connoisseur on refs at Pools.
First home game, the sun was shining and a good crowd, not full but still a good crowd. The nice Mr Ivan Ash of Tees fame was on the PA and was struggling. I could be holding a winning ticket for the match day lottery but I just never heard the draw. He tried valiantly to rise to the occasion but could only let his hair down playing a cricket ditty with a da di da hoi hoi hoi every time a sub was made.
Well, onto the game, and the lads won the toss and we were kicking the right way in the first half. Typically we were under the cosh for the first ten minutes as they piled on the pressure, even Miller blazing a shot over the Town End stand.
"Typically we were under the cosh for the first ten minutes as they piled on the pressure"
The ref was a bit picky about bodily contact and gave a free kick against us after Hartley and a Swindon player played pat-a-cake while waiting for a high ball to drop. Monky looked up for it as he tried to get Pools on the front foot. He had a great chance from a Franks cross but seemed to slip as he was about to shoot and the chance was gone.
Ned did a great job spreading himself to block a Swindon shot with his knee. Pools, growing more confident, started to press Swindon and this caused a great deal of arm throwing, head slapping and gesturing from the Swindon technical area. Howard was winning some great balls but nothing was coming from them, and his solo effort was scrambled away in a goalmouth scramble.
Howard’s long-range shot was collected easily by the keeper but at least we were asking questions now. Poole had the last chance of the half when his header went wide. Despite the first ten minutes, when we were run a little ragged, we did ok, sharing the honours for the first forty-five.
Pools stepped it up a bit following the break, and after an off-the-ball chopping-down incident, we got a free kick, which Sweeney headed just over the bar. Poole, on a great run, had the Town End screaming for a penalty when he was bundled over in the box. A crime like that outside the box would have brought an instant card.
A great run and cross from Aussie had Sweeney steaming into the box, but he was fractionally beaten to the ball by the keeper. Howard had the chance of the game. Standing near the spot he connected with a great cross and smashed it against the far post and dropped for the keeper. Hartley picked up on a rebound ball and smashed his shot into the box only to see the retreating Pools players offside.
Pools were building up the pressure on a shaky Swindon defence as another cross found Franks on the edge of the box, but his drive was straight at the keeper. A loose ball was chased down by Howard, the scrambling Swindon keeper hit his clearance straight at Monky, who snatched when he had time, and hit it over the Town End.
At the other end, after a succession of Swindon subs, Pools were scrambling a ball clear and a shot cum cross bamboozled Hartley, who handled the ball and up steps Super Tom for the penalty. Chants of “there is only one Tommy Miller" wafted over the lush Victoria Park turf as Super Tom hit his shot into the Rink End car park. It was such a bad penalty it had Ned laughing and Di Canio throwing his cup onto the park, which he thought better of and soon retrieved it.
Swindon rued their luck, or lack of it, throwing everything at us and pegging us back for the last ten minutes, but although we did not do enough to deserve the win, neither did they, so just maybe the football gods who deserted us at Crewe are now back on track, after a hard fought point to start the league campaign.
Man of the Match : Hartley, despite the handball.