Hartlepool - Rovers

WAGGA MOON was at Bristol Rovers

One defeat in five games prior to the Oxford game shows Colin Cooper is making progress with the squad he has available. Of course the need for a striker, more than two years and counting, and has still to be addressed despite our beloved chairman saying one slipped through our grasp on transfer deadline day.

Although this could be taken with a pinch of salt after some of his recent utterances and his willingness to hide behind the FFP regulations. It baffles me how Bury who were totally potless last season, poor support and going nowhere, can manage to sign 23 players in the summer. Either not all clubs are playing by the rules or some people are using this as an excuse for not bringing any talent in. We sell a player for a "five-figure" fee on a decent contract and can only offer a non-league player a monthly contract. The sums just do not add up.

Back to matters on the pitch and my first away game of the season at the Memorial Stadium, Bristol, along with 112 hardy Poolies. A bright opening, and Pools were on top until Rovers scored with their first shot on target. A decent effort from Matt Harrald, but he was given too much time and space to bring the ball down and get his shot away.

Rovers hardly had time to celebrate when from the kick-off a long ball from Neil Austin was flicked on for Luke James to fire home the equaliser.
"Luke James had a terrific game and never stopped working"

With Jon Franks hitting the post and Simon Walton bringing a good save from their keeper just as the stadium announcer was stating there would be one minute of added time, Christian Burgess caused panic in the Rovers area and the ball fell to James, who promptly fired Pools in front.

However the second half belonged to Rovers and they dominated proceedings, but Pools refused to fold and battled away looking far from a bottom four side. And Pools could have put the game beyond Rovers when James robbed John-Joe O'Toole and was in on goal, one-on-one with the Rovers keeper. As he was about to shoot, O'Toole caught him on the heel, and James's side-footer was brilliantly saved by Steve Mildenhall. From the resulting corner, centre-back Burgess had a free header which he put wide from six yards.

Although the back four were doing a fine job, manager Cooper decided to strengthen the defence, bringing off Franks and sending on Sam Collins. A big mistake according to the Poolies on the away terrace, and with a minute to go Jack Baldwin was easily nudged off the ball for Rovers to get it into the penalty area for O'Toole to sidefoot the equaliser.

There was still time for an unpleasant incident in front of the Pools supporters. Winger Jack Compton had the ball and was being urged to take on his full back and get a cross in. All he managed to do was mis-control the ball and it rolled tamely into a touch. He received a bit of abuse from a few frustrated Poolies and responded, shouting abuse back to the fans. When a few seconds later he received the ball again he immediately crossed the ball to no-one in particular as if to try and make a futile point to the fans, and as he ran back upfield, he appeared to make a sign to the fans behind his back.

Not a good ending to a game where a welcome point was well earned and there was certainly no need for the fans to abuse Compton or for the way he reacted to it. Because to be fair he did very little in the game and should have had the hook before Franks.

On the bright side Luke James had a terrific game and never stopped working, and Burgess, although he missed a sitter is looking a very sound centre back. There is no way Collins can expect to get back in the side unless Burgess or Baldwin are injured.

Steve Howard was ill and did not make the trip. Perhaps the club could be a bit more specific about what was wrong with our star sharp-shooter. Perhaps they are trying to ship him out on loan and don't want him getting injured. He would be a big miss for us!