Pools 4 Bristol Rovers 0,   League 2  Saturday March 15th 2014

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY at The Vic


I did not even get time to sharpen my pencil today before Pools were one up. To tell the truth I had forgotten to put my journo's kit in my pocket as I changed jackets seconds before leaving for the game. Even my butter mints were left at home. 

I was in the process of cadging a pen when we kicked off, and had to make do with a couple of old lottery tickets from the last home game to scribble my notes on. The Ditchburn had given me the SP on the ref who was fairly new but had about seventy yellows and six recent reds to his name, so he was on a loser before we started. 

The visitors had ex-Pools favorite Trigger in the dugout and he knew the game and turned us to kick the wrong way at the start. Now Trigger got it all wrong today. Possibly he did not stick a wet finger out of the tunnel before deciding this ploy and found his team playing into the strong wind in the first half. 

From the off Luke was tearing up the Cyril Knowles side of the pitch to the by-line; beating two defenders he sent in a cross that was cleared for a corner. Barmby sent it over and Marlon at the back post scored the easiest goal he will ever score to make it one nil to Pools with barely a minute on the clock. The latecomers asking for a replay were stunned at missing what must have been one of the fastest goals Pools fans had ever seen. 

Pools really went for the visitors who, according to the Ditchburn, were great at home and poor away. The ref even allowed them a blatant full-on back pass to their keeper jut to ease the pressure on them, much to the annoyance of the Town End fans. Monky had to go off with what looked like a thigh problem but it turned out to be a hamstring job, so another casualty for the benches. Compton replaced him as Pools set about them in numbers and Walker, who we know can shoot, was prepared to shoot on sight and his first long range shot hit the keeper but he was back again with another twenty-five yard shot that screamed into the net giving Pools a two goal lead. 

O’Toole, who the Ditchburn reckons is going to go for big money, was not a patch on Walker who, for me, could have been Man-of-the-Match. Walker again tested the keeper with another long range shot that the keeper tipped over the bar. The lad was right to keep testing the keeper who looked shaky and was letting his defenders know what he thought of them. 

"Marlon at the back post scored the easiest goal he will ever score to make it one nil to Pools with barely a minute on the clock"

Ned made a couple of saves as Bristol tried to get back into the game after a shaky start. Young Luke was once again made a target for the defenders who really were having a struggle to hold him and Barmby, who had a superb game today. He can turn on a sixpence and switch the play to either side with ease and he was at his best today really getting in the face of the visiting team. 

Rovers did rally a little towards the end of the first half but the damage was done and Pools, with the wind second half, would be a stern test for the visitors. Early in the second half as Luke made a break he was cynically chopped down again but this time the yellow card was shown. 

The third goal came as Marlon went down in the box; yes it was a dive after very little contact but hey we have had to suffer our fair share of decisions like that, and when Walton put the penalty away it was good to see the whole team charge into the corner in celebration. 

Bristol had their dander up now and were looking for retribution as Pools faded slightly from the game allowing O’Toole to show his skills, but he was all bluster. Ned did have to make a point-blank save from an attacker that he blocked and it fell to another attacker. Sam made a great block on the second close-in shot to keep them at bay. Another attack saw Ned beat with a shot but it hit the bar and bounced clear. 

The visitors, taking a free kick in the middle of the park, played a short ball and Barmby nicked in, took the ball from two players and raced on to the visitors' goal, but his shot was over the bar. Hawkins came on for Walker near the end but Pools were not done yet as Luke again broke free and set off for the goalmouth. His shot hit the post and dropped perfectly for Franks to hit home the fourth and final goal of the game. 

A great performance; not even the Ditchburn could remember a four-nil win. I asked him if it was reminiscent of the so one-sided Grimsby game that night we hit eight but he stormed off home muttering something about not seeing that one and it was all their lass's fault, having relatives abroad that she insists on visiting during the footy season. 

This was a “STELLA’ performance by the whole team today which was much needed after the two away defeats. Walker, Barmby and Luke were exceptional and Sam deserved his Man-of-the-Match accolade, ably assisted by a great performance from Burgess, and not forgetting another clean sheet from Ned on his 200th league game for the club. 

Until today I thought we had blown it for the play-offs and was just happy to make progress to safety in the division. The Ditchburn take on this is that we are better staying out of the play-offs as we may be embarrassed. One game at a time eh?