RUNNING MONKEY followed St. Hilda from the Headland to Whitby

Whitby Town 0 Pools 2

On my first trip out to watch the team this season, there were some great improvements on the same fixture last season (when it was persistently raining, the fish shop was closed and we went two down in fifteen minutes). 

A drawback though was the time it took to get from Wolviston to the Smoggie flyover, even with a detour to Port Clarence, but that was more the fault of the driver than the accident backlog. Once over the flyover we made good time and caught the fish shop close to the ground open but I only rated them four out of ten. Pools started with a strong side, Flinders, Duckworth, Collins, Baldwin, Holden, Franks, Walton, Sweeney, Compton, Monkhouse, James.

Compton, the new signing, did ok, and Duckworth, a trialist, also looked canny considering the opposition. It looks to me that Whitby look forward to this fixture, with the Pools connection of Darren Williams and Mark Robinson, who played the full game and looks a very competent full back. When you look at some of the replacements we have employed in that position  it makes one wonder why we let him go in the first place.
"don’t hold your breath on new signings unless one of our neighbourly giants feel benevolent enough to loan us a player or three"

The new captain, Sweeney, tapped home a sitter to make it one nil to Pools early on after Franks raced down his line and crossed a low ball that Sweeney could not miss. Despite the early lead it was a quiet half for Pools as Whitby held their own. 

This was the first time I have ever seen a water break twenty minutes into the game. The first half was a dour affair with only a couple of chances for Pools. Some of the same old stuff from last season - senior player demands ball -  senior player wastes ball. It was sad but not unexpected to see - even in a friendly game - Walton swing an elbow at a player who came in from behind, there was nothing in the tackle and a senior player like him should know better. 

Most of the stuff we did try broke down once we got to their box. Sweeney had another chance late in the half that was hit over the bar. The new management team changed things around in the second half giving some of the fringe players from last season a run out, as, by the looks of things we may need them - Rafferty, Austin, Richards, Hartley, Jones, Walker, Rowbotham, Poole, Hawkins, Rodney, Howard.

Despite losing a few from the squad, the relegation situation means we are under more pressure on what the club can pay out as wages, so don’t hold your breath on new signings unless one of our neighbourly giants feel benevolent enough to loan us a player or three. 

 I was surprised as anyone to see Howard warming up with the squad but he did his usual stint up front once again directing operations. At one juncture when a through ball was wasted he went through a system of gestures and arm waving, pointing here there and everywhere and it was laughable when he turned round to greet his audience - there was only one Whitby player standing listening as his team mates had departed to the other end of the pitch. 

After the game I noticed a friendly slap on the back of Howard from the CEO, was this a possible thanks but no thanks as he leaves for the Steel City? Walker is a Pools youth team player that seems to have grown a foot over the summer and now bears an uncanny resemblance to Ronaldo, and he had a tidy half.

You must take notice of another trialist by the name of Nialle Rodney. This kid can play a bit, has all the touches - drags the ball back, holds it up under pressure, can beat three men at a time, and he scored a canny goal after Poole put him through on goal. So after that glowing report we will probably not sign him, probably for the reasons given earlier. 

Poole looked sharp and was clattered a couple of times, once by former Poolie Mark Robinson, but shortly afterwards Poole turned on a sixpence, nutmegged the fullback and waltzed past him. After the game Mark claimed he saw the nutmeg coming, but could not cross his knees. 

The first impression is that unless he can strengthen the squad Cooper has his work cut out and it is glaringly obvious that we still need a striker.