RUNNING MONKEY sees Pools win - easily

 Pools 3 Crewe 0 at the Vic, February 26th

On the way to the Vic the wireless said an unchanged team once again for Pools, once again the manager Mr. Hughes was sticking the lads who had performed so well at Scunthorpe.

The fans in the Vic were buzzing about that result, none of the weary willies turning up and moaning, it was bouncing once again with belief in the team. Even early doors the fans were flocking in and the final count for the day was 3509 with only a smattering in the Crewe end.

My mate Ken, who I can only describe as an optimistic pessimist, as he has served his time on the terraces of the old and new Hartlepool Excited had a smile on his face. He had never been so happy since he won the wet T shirt competition at a Tow Law fete last summer.
"our attack was more direct - not the slow, sideways build up of old, and it was bringing results."
The first ten minutes dented the ego a little as Crewe set about Pools, stretching us wide and piling down the middle in numbers, and playing some good football. It was obvious from the start that the Crewe side wanted to target the Pools full backs, as both of them were limping early on after coming out of tackles. Why do refs let tackles like that go early in the game? Ken said that he thought Evan should be taken off as he limped through to half time, but Ken forgot Evan is a Poolie and is as hard as nails, and played a fantastic game. The same with Aussie but none of the lads wanted to leave this game.

There was an early shout for a penalty for Pools when a Horwood free kick bounced around the box. The crowd spotted it, as did the players, but the man in black waved play on. It was turning into a cup tie type of game as Pools pressured the Crewe side, getting up in front of them and our attack was more direct - not the slow, sideways build up of old, and it was bringing results.

James Poole and Charlie Wyke are creating a great partnership, and Franks is playing out of his skin. What confidence a goal makes to a player. All the strikers were trying their luck at any opportunity and it was good to see. Baldwin playing in midfield was immense. He lost one ball and got up and chased his man down and made one of the best recovering tackles in the box I have seen at the Vic, he was superb. He was also battering the goal at the other end, firing just wide from distance.

A combination of Franks, Baldwin and Wyke brought the first strike for Pools as the winger made a great run down the left and sent in a lovely cross that Baldwin won and headed into the path of Wyke, who put Pools one up. It was well-deserved lead as the build up play from Pools was superb. Walton went off and you could see the frustration as he punched the sides of the tunnel as he left the field, but Twitter says a couple of days will see if there is a problem. Such a shame as he has become a key player during this run.

Monky came on and Pools were now running the show, Crewe were playing how we used to play and hoofing the ball out aimlessly wereas Pools were creating all over the pitch. Franks is S^(! hot at the moment, chasing and harrying, what a difference a goal has made to his play. Now we understand what Cooper saw in him - a confident, pacy winger with a great shot.

Poole laid on a nice ball for Franks and in this mood he just runs through defenders and he did just that and struck a low shot past the Crewe keeper to make it two nil to Pools just before the break.

The chant of “we are unbeatable” from the fans never sounded so good. There was at least five minutes extra time played, as there must have been a record number of head clashes in the half.
The fans took great pleasure in encouraging Buster Gallagher the Pools physio to win the race to the stricken players.

The second half we all expected Crewe to come at us but it was the Pools side that was dominant throughout. They relied more and more on the long ball and the keeper hoying into our half, but Pools were now playing all the football. Ken noticed at half time that all of the Crewe subs went into the dressing room at half time, which was odd. Maybe a change was on the cards but not at the restart.

Early in the second half Wyke chased a lost cause down to the corner flag, and as the defender tried to usher the ball out, Wyke nicked it from him and set up Poole, who ran into the box and hit a belter, but the keeper got lucky and blocked it. Evan Horwood, who Ken had  thought should have been withdrawn earlier, hit an even stronger drive that was blocked and another hand ball claim was dismissed by the man in black, who angered the home fans as he had just pulled up Richie for a similar offence just a minute earlier as Pools piled on the pressure.

Again Jonathan Franks picked up the ball, skipped past the Crewe defence, and hit a hell of a strike that was just wide, with the keeper scrambling along his goal line. Ned made a great clearing punch as Crewe tried to rally but they were under the cosh from a rampant Pools attack. As they could see the game was lost they became more physical, but Pools broke free again in numbers and Luscombe hit a shot that bounced off the keeper and Wyke had two strikes at it before it dropped for Monky who hit the ball home, sending the home fans into raptures. How different from such a short time ago when we could not even buy a goal.

This was a masterful, outstanding performance from the team and so many could have won the Man of the Match, award but from the keeper to the strikers and subs it was a fantastic team performance.

Well done Mr. Hughes for making them believe again. Lets hope we can do it.