RUNNING MONKEY reports on home defeat no.2

After the soaking we got at York last week it was good to be under a shelter in the Town End again despite the rain. Mr. Cooper in his wisdom decided to switch things around today, bringing in new signings Matty Dolan and Michael Duckworth for their debuts.

One doubt I had was moving young Bradley Walker out wide to accommodate Walton in the middle after young Walker had been making M O M appearances. It was the visitors who chanced their arm first but it was a weak shot after some good approach play. Compton sent in a good cross that Howard could only get half contact on with his header, which was cleared off the line. Howard, taking a ball in mid-field. went down like a sack of potatoes after the slightest touch and the ref waved play on, which is what the dive deserved. Howard complains a lot throughout the game but his early dive set the pattern for the ref ignoring his every plea, even when he deserved better.

We went a goal down when we had the edge in the game when Ned dived and parried a strong shot into the path of a Fleetwood player, who bundled the ball in with his knee while we were all still appealing for a foul on Jack in the initial attack that the ref had ignored.

Heads were down again but Duckworth and Dolan did their best to raise the team with some good runs at Fleetwood. Duckworth racing down the wing sent in a cross to Howard at the back stick but his effort was wide. Walker had a chance finding himself free in the middle of the area and his snap shot sailed just wide of the post with the keeper grasping thin air.
" Shame on you, I hear you say after just three games but little has really changed since last season."
As you know I never blame referees for our predicament, but when Duckworth was scythed down in the box by a Fleetwood defender and the man in the middle turned a blind eye to the criminal act, no wonder he brought some grief on himself from the Pools fans, when minutes later he gave Fleetwood another free kick on the edge of our box. Pools were getting nowhere after their goal and it was a little too easy for the visitors to run at us down the flanks, we were lacking cohesion and looked totally disjointed in a game where we needed players to stand up and be counted.

There was an incident when Ned was running in his box to punt the ball out and he tangled with a Fleetwood attacker who put his foot up and nicked the ball with the aid of a hand, and the Fleetwood man was booked for protesting after his foul. The ref was finally warming to Howard as he did give him one free kick on forty-four minutes.

At half time the new tactician who has taken up residence in the back row of the Cyril Knowles stand, waving and gesturing at the club doctor who was trying his best to calm the man down, entertained us. My mate Ken, who is back from his jet-setting, was taking in his first game of the season and was underwhelmed by our first half performance, said he knows the tactician and he should be avoided.

Pools needed to lift their game and lift the crowd, as today I never heard one song from the fans in support of their team. Jack was being fouled continuously and his first retaliation ended with a booking for him, yet the forward had persistently niggled at Jack throughout the game. In the first Pools raid we almost had an equalizer as a defender sliced a ball from Austin that skimmed just wide of the goal. Aussie was in action again making a great tackle in the box, which had the Fleetwood players howling for a penalty but by some miracle the ref waved away their protestations.

Monky made a good run down to the corner flag beat his man twice and sent in a cross that Howard connected with and brought a scrambled save from the keeper Walton tried to hit the return ball but that was also blocked. Shortly after we had another penalty shout refused after Burgess shot into a crowded box from distance.

Walker was unlucky chasing a ball down in the box and the keeper dropped it but unlike Flinders their keeper got away with it as Walker could not get a boot on the ball. Duckworth set up what was the best chance of the game for Pools with a cross to Howard who lunged desperately at the ball but failed to connect as the ball skimmed past the keeper and him.

At least Howard now looks to be interested in playing the game for Pools which in pre-season was the opposite. Despite more effort from Pools it was another defeat and as one punter said on the way out of the Vic "If we had played another hour we would never have scored a goal". After a chat with the tactician who came down from his perch in the CK stand, we agreed that we have to take issue with the manager on first his initial selection of moving Walker to accommodate Walton who on the day made some good passes, probably upped his average in this game but still not enough to justify moving Walker for. Then Monky for Poole when Poole was playing well, similar to last season so can Poole only play sixty minutes. Then Rodney for Compton, another player who had earned his corn this afternoon. Cooper needs to start Rodney to assess his ability, not give him ten minutes per game.

What was the point of bringing Luke on when the game had gone? Whatever has Franks done to deserve the boot, as he has played well in the games I have seen this season? Early days, you say but surely Mr. Cooper knows by now what his best team is, and if he does not get his act together soon he will be looking for a job by Christmas.

The squad looks to have some talent and some experience but we have not gelled as a team yet, the natives are becoming restless, and we look as if we are heading for the lower division. Shame on you, I hear you say after just three games but little has really changed since last season.