As I Seen It - Pools v Oxford

RUNNING MONKEY on another home defeat

League 2, at the Vic Pools 1 Oxford United 3.

Once again the sun shone on a decent crowd at the Vic for the game against high flyers Oxford United. I knew from entering the ground that the omens were against us. 

Standing at my usual turnstile clutching my season ticket there seemed to be some delay at the stile I used the last time we won, the Accrington Stanley game. There were only a couple of people in front of me but the delay seemed to be caused by some non-ticket-holder who obviously had not took enough money from his wallet to pay his way, but it was testing my patience having to wait. Older readers will know exactly what I mean as the youth of today have no respect for tradition. 

As the other stile, which I had used for the first five home games was not occupied, I decided to go through. As I stepped in it crossed my mind I was doing the wrong thing. Pushed along by a couple of others behind me I made my way in and bought my half time lottery ticket with the shiny new pound coin I had just picked up outside of the ground. 

I met up with the Ditchburn Poolie and inquired about the possibility of getting a pic of the lucky thong. With a splutter and a spit he said ok once it makes a re-appearance. I left it at that and instead took a pic of his lucky sock. 

Enough frivolity I hear you say but the Ditchburn Poolie takes these things very seriously. He was so shocked, even surprised this week at a football result so close to his heart, that he took a deep intake of breath while doubled up in fits of laughter that the magic thong disappeared and has not returned. Oh, the result that made him chortle so much was Ramsbottom United 3- Darlington F.C. nil. 

Oxford had a good following and looked a good side and were at us from the off. Potter, who was conducting their play was a class above and he chased everything down, harried everyone who had the ball, and really made them tick, He was instrumental in undoing the Pools defence and allowing Oxford to go one up in five minutes. Pools only have themselves to blame as they dithered around the box with no one prepared to put a foot in and clear the ball, and an Oxford forward had all the time in the world to hit his shot past Ned to go one up. 
"Pools only have themselves to blame as they dithered around the box with no one prepared to put a foot in and clear the ball"

The next forty minutes was like a football lesson for Pools as the quick, slick Oxford ran rings round us. Once again the frailties in our side were obvious as we had difficulty even getting in their half and holding the ball as it was punted and hoofed away in despair, as Oxford played simple quick passing football. So much for our recent claim that we have sorted the defence out and now it is just the forward play we need to work on. 

Duckworth made possibly the best run of the half; beating at least four men, jinking and stumbling through tackles, he laid the ball off on the edge of their box and watched Walton blaze it over the stand. 

It is something in the genes of southern-based players that they have to wind up the northern folk by dubious tactics. OK they were a goal up, but Rose the Oxford player, or should I say play actor, took an age to make his way to the flag, then claimed there was no ball, then acted like a surprised child when Aussie ran and kicked the ball to him. We should be above all that but I say if you are intimidating the opposition fans continually there should be a case for a card from the ref. 

Duckworth made a great hit on Potter who now was getting a little arrogant on the ball, so a no nonsense tackle from the Pools player was what he deserved. It has to be said they were superior on the ball in the first half but we helped them a great deal by passing the ball to them or in the case of Walton playing balls off to no mans land without even looking. You may think through my scribbling in this column that I am against the player. Well I am as I do not see what he brings to our game and so much he does do is detrimental to our play. 

I do not know what happened with Franks but he was substituted just before half time. It may have been the last cross he played which was bloody awful. So much so the Ditchburn and I revived our game from last season, trying to forecast the outcome of a cross or free kick launched by Pools.

Jack Baldwin is improving all the time and he chased back into our box with Potter from Oxford who looked as if he had a free run in when Jack made a superb tackle to clear the danger with Potter claiming a foul on him. 

I must say on this occasion Poole was making a difference with some good runs on the ball, and at the start of the second half we looked a better side. Like Oxford did in the first half we scored in the fist five minutes when Compton headed a Poole cross back into the box and Luke James hit a sweet shot past the keeper. 

Luke once again, being marshalled by a huge centre back, was getting some rough treatment off the ball that the officials ignored. It was so bad I was angry and wanted to confront the player at the gate. I was talked out of that, but when leaving the ground I asked the three police officers outside to arrest the Oxford number four for assault and battery on young Luke. They said they would look into that so I await their report. What sickened me even more was the fact that he elbowed and slapped Luke around the head and face and pushed him to the ground on numerous occasions then at the end of the game put an arm round his shoulder. 

It was only fair that we should be level but our new-found exuberance was soon extinguished when they hit back with another quick fire goal orchestrated once again by Potter - a ball down the wing, a quick one two and lay off and we were two one down. 

I have to say that the Ditchburn was right. You just cannot expect to win games by playing very short patches of football. Luke did have a chance one on one with the keeper for a crossed ball but only hit the keeper with his shot. Oxford were soon three one up as Ned, diving at the feet of an attacker, took his ankle and dived the wrong way for the penalty kick. 

As the omens predicted, it was not going to be our day, and Howard managed to get a straight red from a fifty-fifty tackle, after just coming on, but I think his lunge won him no favour and the ref showed him the card. It has to be said that the Oxford player was booking an ambulance from his position on the deck till the card was waved and he quietly walked away. 

More trouble was to come as Compton raced down the wing, cut in the box, then was up ended by a defender, then was promptly booked for simulation. I was across the other side of the goal for this debacle and thought instantly a penalty, and was shocked when the ref gave nothing and after a slight pause went back and booked the Pools man. Just maybe the lino had some input but talking to people after the game that were closer than me, to a man they said Penalty. The time it took for the Oxford team to take their free kicks and the substitutions, there should have been ten minutes added but alas not every official plays the game at the Vic.