RUNNING MONKEY tells it like it was

On a fine sunny New Year's Day, Poolies, full of festive cheer and still celebrating the win in deepest Yorkshire, were out in numbers to see the lads play against recent strugglers Preston, and make a winning run of two games. I think a lot of fans were in the same fame of mind hoping against hope to see a win at home. One rumour was that the powers that be had made this a “Priority” game, the stupid “Plebs”, meaning more expense for the club but again there are mitigating factors like having a full crew to work New Year's Day so you want some kelp for your efforts.

One long term Poolie said to me that he put the game at Bramall lane on a par or even higher on the scale than the games with Chelsea and Manure, citing that we had better teams in both those games than we have now, Hardly progressed since, when you put it like that.

A team that turns up and plays in pink shirts deserves to be beaten, obviously the manager Mr Priestley likes to drop a few and rotate his squad as all the shirt numbers were in double figures too.

Pools set off at a hell of a pace and Sweeney was running down a through ball from Franks but he could only win a corner from the advancing keeper. It was a fast paced game and Pools were playing the better football with some good moves from the forwards stretching Preston and we had the spectacle of goalkeeper and defender almost coming to blows after one Pools attack. Both teams were hard in and were both guilty of daft fouls and seemed to give the ball away as much as each other.

"Consensus was had been a decent half for Pools, ...and all should be well in the second half. "Pools were playing the better football, harrying the visitors, which was pleasant fare to start the New Year. Despite his age and his detractors, RH, who looked as if he had started on the wing was playing a big part in the game and almost gave Pools the lead with a great dummy leaving two defenders stranded as he made his way into the box, where the Preston defence were in a panic but the ball was cleared.

As half time came, Pools once again gifted the opposition a chance when Hartley brought down an attacker and the ref gave the penalty instantly the challenge was made. I think that is about five this season from Hartley. Ned stood tall and blocked the shot and justice was seen to be done as Pools scrambled the ball away.

A momentary lapse in concentration again gave the visitors the edge as Preston scored with a header totally against the run of play. Consensus was, despite the late goal against and the lack of real chances and the waste of free kicks, it had been a decent half for Pools, not letting the visitors dwell on the ball and playing some entertaining football, and all should be well in the second half despite once again kicking the wrong way.

Sadly in the second half the Pools of old came out and we looked very ordinary against a very ordinary team. The super crosses from the wings had almost disappeared The same old flaws started to appear as Preston had their tails up having scored so late in the game against strong pressure from Pools.

Once again we were back to the missed tackles, the ball played with ease to the opposition, some players had stopped chasing and it was negative stuff. It was around this time that Walton was once again subbed to cheers from the crowd and he disappeared down the tunnel. This lad seems to lack confidence when things go wrong and he is the first to show it in his game but booing him off will not help the player or the team. Having said that the lad has had a long time to prove himself and despite a plea from the manager to get off his back the fans pay for the privilege and will boo as they see fit. It is up to the lad himself to change that situation.

This poor form continued till around the eighty-minute mark. Preston had by then started to waste time taking kicks and every time the game stopped their whole team ran to the trough like sheep dying of thirst just to delay the restart of the game. As my mate Ken said, there are four officials out there and unless they do anything about it these shameful tactics will continue to frustrate players and supporters alike.

It was only in the last ten minutes when we made any real attempt to get back into the game and once again Flinders was heading up field to bolster the attack, Some say we had a good appeal for a hand ball turned down in the last minute but it was too far for these tired old eyes to see clearly. We in the Town end thought we had at least won another corner as did the players but realised as the bench was walking onto the pitch the New Year bubble had just been popped by Preston.