As I Seen It - Northampton

RUNNING MONKEY sees another VICtory

 League 2  Pools V Northampton at the Vic, Saturday November 23rd

For once in my lifetime today Pools got the music right for the entrance of the gladiators. 

Smoke on the Water had all the air guitarists strumming wistfully along to the music. A parade of tiny Poolies waving blue 'n white flags formed a guard of honour as the teams took to the field. Some of the flags were bigger than the kids but they were an enthusiastic bunch that took some controlling.

On the way to my station in the Town End there was a meeting of minds at the fence next to the CK stand. The Codgers, who have vacated the Town End for the comfort of the back row in the CK stand this season, were claiming it is just for a different perspective after forty years propping up a section of girder in the Town End, The Ditchburn sage has a different take on the move as he watched the half-time cucumber sandwiches and hot chocolate from a thermos being shared among the people who he thought were his friends.

What kept the codgers amused was this question: "Which ex-Poolie legend had a fifty-seventh birthday this week?" Well, everyone knows it was Big Bad Bob, but we commoners in the Town End just let the codgers think they were educating us.

The Sage informed me that the visitors are the most censured team in the division this season, claiming thirty three cards between them, but not to worry, as the Ditchburn once again showed his superior knowledge and claimed this feller is a great ref. He will look after us. He also told me of his plans to publish his Ditchburn Poolie fans' guide to Football Referees. He claims it will be the official "Wisden" of the Football League and people the world over will be checking out their games and on how much the referee is going to influence their Saturday.
"Once again The Sage was claiming this man is a good ref. He was having a bad start just turning up in a grey kit, How can you chant "who is the bastard in the grey?" "
Well judging by the last three home games and the expert opinion given to the listening Town End, it will be money wasted. Take today for instance. Once again The Sage was claiming this man is a good ref. He was having a bad start just turning up in a grey kit, How can you chant "who is the bastard in the grey?"

Well the game kicked off in reasonable weather, if not a tad cool, but we have played in worse. It could have been a bad start for Pools too as two attacks in the first minute almost drew blood as they stormed through, and a shot hit the post and bounced into the arms of Ned. It was a real let-off. They looked up for the game but overall they flattered to deceive as Pools got themselves sorted and started to play the football we have seen recently.

Poole was doing well through the middle, turning the visitors but getting flattened in the process. Pools had a handball turned down as they pushed into the box. Still the Ditchburn claimed he was right on this one. On their next attack they even took out H'Angus leaving him sprawled, writhing on the ground after a late tackle, and came back to do it again later in the half, this time leaving him limping to the dressing room.

Pools were putting the pressure on the visitors and were paying the penalty; every time we crossed into their half we were bundled, shoved or hacked to the ground, all unnoticed by the official in charge.  Dolan got a great ball off to Luke who raced into the box and hit a great shot past the visitors’ keeper, and Pools thoroughly deserved this lead.

This good ref that comes with a commendation from the Ditchburn Wisden, overruled two offside decisions in a minute as the lino wondered what he was doing here. Another instance was when Jack was taken out right in front of the official, who turned a blind eye. Shame that the ref could not see through the writhing Northampton player after a tackle by Monky ended with the Pools player collecting his full set of yellows, which will rule him out of the next game. Funny how all the fouls go against us and we invariably have the first name in the book.

Statistics prove that this is the dirtiest team to come to the Vic this season. Poole rode three tackles in succession as he dodged his way into the box but nothing was given after he was taken down. This good ref also sent Aussie off for treatment after being up-ended; he was prepared to carry on but the ref would have none of it and called on the Pools' physio, then insisted Aussie went off for treatment. Luke had another chance as a Dolan free kick was flicked on and Luke’s shot hit the bar with the visitors' keeper beat.

The second half Pools started well again and Compton went really close after taking on three and still getting a shot off into the side netting. Poole had an exceptional game and was my man-of-the-match and he won a penalty after racing into the box and got himself sandwiched between two defenders, the ref gave the penalty but after some deliberation with the linesman and some input from the Pools player,s decided a penalty was enough and there was no need to produce a card. I did think, "oh no" as Walton took over the penalty kick, but he did make a good job of sending the keeper the wrong way.

Compton, who was also a candidate for man-of-the-match made some great runs down the flank and cutting in across the box kept the visitors on their toes. He was later named man-of-the-match by Brian Honour, "but he was a winger too" was the murmur on the terrace.

Ned gave a very confident performance today, and looked commanding in his box when needed. Northampton had a good spell around the seventy minutes mark and pushed us back as they searched for an opening. Pools stood firm and towards the end of the game Monky, Compton and Sweeney all went close with chances.

A workman-like performance for Pools, showing some good skills all over the park, but it has to be said this side, who beat Fleetwood last week, looked very poor at times and reminded me of the Pools team early in the season when hoof-ball was the order of the day.