RUNNING MONKEY at the Baltic Vic

 Pools 0 Walsall 0 at the Vic, March 23rd

 On a cold miserable day, just a couple of days from British Summer Time, at the Vic today it was “Baltic”. This was probably not the only reason that the crowd was a fraction over 3000.
Having lost on Tuesday at Oldham, most of the fans thought that was it and the last-gasp effort to save our position in the division had gone that night, but the truth of it is the dire football played earlier in the season put paid to our season long before the events on Tuesday. We were kidding ourselves and we were down, that despite the late mini revival over the last couple of months. It was never going to happen.

The team have not scored a goal in six matches and it is painful to watch us simply going through the motions and getting nowhere. People in the know seem to think there are eight players up for contract at the end of the season, so if Mr Hughes is still in his job then it sounds like most of those players will be dispatched and we start again.
"It is noticeable the in these dire times of impending relegation Pools have mastered the craft of turning attack into defence"
As my mate Ken remarked back in the seventies, it was the norm for Pools to start every season with a new batch of eight or nine and you simply took pot luck with them till the end of the season. Hardly what you might call building a foundation but it made for exciting times every time a new team sheet was produced.

Now that Ken has joined the retired fans ranks I just hope he becomes a little more laid back as he seems to have matured even this season and as yet has not been warned by senior stewards for his erratic antics along the town end walk way. Yes, regular readers will realise I am waffling more than normal this week as my notes for today’s game do not even fill half a page of the new jotter I purchased on my way to the ground today. I could waffle a bit more and tell you about the lift I got to the game but that would be unprofessional.

Walsall turned up and probably expected to walk away with the points looking at our displays of late, but after a cagey first ten minutes when the only real event was a very bad square ball by Aussie that was nearly picked off by an attacker, and an excellent block by Sam on the edge of the box, we started to take the game to them. Horwood sent Franks down the wing and a great cross from him gave Howard the chance to miss again.

In the next Pools attack there was a ball bouncing around the area and at least three Pools players tried and failed to get a boot on it and a scruffy shot from Howard sent the ball wide. In his next attempt he had all the goal and yet still managed to hit the keeper on the chest with a header which enraged the newly-retired Ken, who went on to tell anyone that would listen that with the experience that the striker has, you would have thought he would at least have the ability to send a ball to the corner of the goal especially when he is unchallenged.

Sweeney probably had the best chance of the game as he rose to a perfect header that looked all the way to be in and the on-loan Manure keeper made a great diving save pushing the ball clear. Although on that one Ken said the header was at a nice comfortable height for the keeper. Westcarr the twenty-nine year old Walsall striker was just a tad petulant as he went into the book for kicking the ball away after the ref had pulled him up for a foul on Aussie.

It is noticeable the in these dire times of impending relegation Pools have mastered the craft of turning attack into defence as we continued to give the ball away to the opposition. Second half looked better as Pools had stepped up their game a touch and both Franks and Howard were caught offside as they raced onto a  Walsall back pass.

RH is once again proving his worth. Both teams tended to even each other out as no one looked as if they could break wind never mind break free and score. I was really disappointed in Walton today who we all thought had turned the corner, but on two occasions today he actually feigned injury in a tackle after losing the ball in midfield. Walton lay prone probably saying his prayers that he had not gifted the opposition the chance to take the game again.

Boos rang out around the ground as Mr Hughes once again took off our most potent threat, which was Franks, who was also M O M, for Luke James. No such boos afforded when the manager took off Howard - in fact there was cheers as the big feller left the field, and when he sat in the dugout he showed his temper as he slammed his pads and ties down in anger after being withdrawn, or possibly it was the reaction of the crowd. As the game came to a close Ken was convinced we were going to lose out again especially as Walton, once again being too elaborate, got caught on the ball and gifted Walsall a great chance that was thwarted by Sam and Hartley, and we escaped with a point, but all to no avail, as others elsewhere gained the points that make our position almost unassailable now.