Mad Dog Day

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY


Pools 1 Chesterfield 0 (National League)
Monday 27 August 2018
Victoria Park


Nice to see some old friends down here in the basement. Mad Dog Martin Allen brought his latest side to the Vic, one which was expected to be going back up. Whoever makes these predictions get their money for nowt. 

Battles with Martin Allen sides have often been bad tempered affairs - it is the way he turns them out. Winning three and losing three has not been a great start for potential champions. Battle was the operative word today as the resurgent Pools side, hoping for our own hat trick of wins, faced up to the typical fare of this division: if it moves kick it; if it does not move dive in front of it or bounce acrobatically away from it if any contact is made. OK, I am on my hobby horse again about the shocking level of officials in this division. It looks to me as if the ref takes total charge, telling his subordinates “you are not capable of making any decisions. That is my job. Just wave your flag when the ball crosses the line and I will decide which way the throw or free kicks go.”

Today's joker must have been the worst we have had at the Vic, even among the bad bunch we have had already. It is hard enough to win games but when incompetent officials make such glaring obvious biased decisions it is no wonder both the fans and the players get frustrated. Luke James was booked today after chasing a ball down to the corner flag and being shoved off the ball and the ball pushed over the dead ball line by the defender, Luke left the ball and started to walk back ready for the corner and the linesman stood motionless as the ref pointed for a goal kick. Luke challenged the decision and was booked. The same thing happened on the opposite corner late in the game and once again the ref from some distance signalled a goal kick.

This new side of ours is starting to click and we played some great football today, none better than when Luke raced down the line to catch a Kioso ball, beating both Nelson and Evans, and slid a ball in for the advancing Featherstone, who sent a low shot past the keeper to give us a lead.
"The second half proved a lot tougher for Pools as the visitors stepped up the attacks but we now defend as a team and attack the same way."

Pools getting the lead gave them the impetus to set about the visitors who were cracking now they were a goal down. Nelson obviously gave the instruction to turn us round at the start but I bet he regretted that as they struggled in the game to break down a very resolute Hartlepool defence. Loach was making some great stops and Magnay blocking on the line,

Luke never stops running and literally had the monkey Nelson on his back throughout the game; he was grappled and thrown to the pitch continuously and it was let go. I wonder what an official actually sees when a centre half takes hold of both arms of a slighter player and throws them to the ground or when a player running with the ball is hit by a body launched at him waist height and bundled to the ground and the ref waves play on. I really must get a job to take my mind off these incompetent people and just watch and keep my gob shut, although twice today the Ditchburn Poolie was prowling behind the goal to get a word with the ref and even walked the length of the Town End to berate a linesman. Even granda Mick went along the line to get a chance to put his opinion to the official. I may be going on but today it really was bad.

Back to the Footy. Michael Woods was inspired today. Maybe he is playing for a contract elsewhere after being disappointed in the move that fell through, but he would be a big loss for us if he did go. He came close with a shot after Kioso set him up but his shot was inches wide. Kitching, despite not winning too many headers today, was causing problems with his runs. He looks delicate but comes out of a lot of close quarter scraps with the ball. He too had a good chance with a header but it went just over the bar.

The second half proved a lot tougher for Pools as the visitors stepped up the attacks but we now defend as a team and attack the same way. We were still making chances on the break and the frustration was showing in the visitors as some of the cynical tactics and intimidation they used was typical of a Martin Allen side but Pools held their ground despite Loach being the busier keeper in the second half. Magnay made a game-saving challenge in the extra time added but Pools deserved this win - a game we would have certainly lost last season. It proves we now have a side that can battle to a one nil win and the performance today was like a breath of fresh air and kept the crowd of three thousand seven hundred on their toes right till the final whistle.

Footnote: I was talking to a fan who had spoken to a current league ref on the dire situation we have with officials. The word in reffing circles is no one wants to come to Hartlepool. apparently our hospitality in that area is not too good with one ref claiming he was shown a kettle and told to make his own coffee.

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