As I Seen It - Torquay (h)

RUNNING MONKEY on an easy win that wasn't

POOLS 3  Torquay United 0 League 2, at the VicSaturday March 1st 2014

After a quiet week of reflection in Ditchburn, the Ditchburn Poolie was full of the joys of spring on this fine February day at the Vic ready for the visit of the league's bottom team Torquay, after last weeks away visit to the other bottom team Northampton where the word was that Pools never turned up, in a two-nil shocker where we were just awful.

Today was the chance to put things back on track and we really needed a lift. The Ditchburn reference on today’s man in black was that he was once kicked off the Football League List of referees, but somehow made his way back on. I suppose his punishment was long trips like today, having hauled himself all the way from Essex to officiate this game. 

The Ditchburn says he has produced 60 yellow cards this season and one red so we did not know what to expect. Pools started bright enough and young Walker made a great run and was able to feed Luke who lost possession just as he was about to shoot. Holden also had a shot saved. At the other end Ned made a good save after Barmby lost possession just outside the box.

Shortly after there was a bit of a scuffle after Ned took a low shot and the attacker kicked out at the Pools keeper as he was on the floor. It was dangerous play and Monky and Burgess ran to his aid as Showunmi started to throw his weight about but Frederic the ref just calmed the situation, but a card should have been shown for the kick at the keeper and for Showunmi placing his hands on Pools players in a threatening manner. 

Monky went into one of his flash dance tackles and looked to be injured, but it looked to me that he laid low after jumping in covering the fact that he did just that and was lucky to get away with it. Twenty minutes gone and the visitors were looking to be the better side, as they had some good players and got out wide and made good use of their crosses. Pools needed to step up their game and they did just that. Monky made a great run after Walker set him free with a great pass. The ball was knocked out wide to Richards who sent a cross back in and some good play by Harewood set up Barmby who had very little room to move in he made a quick turn and hit his shot over the keeper.  Ned made two great stops, one a long-range effort, and a point blank shot from Benyon from inside the six-yard box that he held well.

We have played teams off the park at times and come away with nothing but today for long periods of the first half we were second best but were one nil up. The visitors I thought had edged the first half despite our goal and came on strong towards the end of the half, Ned making some good saves to take us into the break one up.

There was a bit of pressure on us at the start of the second half as they pushed for an equalizer but Sam who was the Ditchburn choice for  man-of-the-match battled hard as did Burgess against Showunmi who is a handful at any level.

A good run by Luke gave himself a chance but his shot went just wide. At the other end a blatant dive by Benyon was ignored by the ref and once again Pools broke free and Barmby tried his luck but hit it over the bar. Barmby again won a corner down the Millhouse side and a brilliant header from Luke left the keeper scrambling as the ball dropped in the goal to make it two nil to the Hartlepool. This set the nerves jangling in the visitors and a few choice tackles were flying in. Once again Luke took the brunt of this special treatment as he was flattened with monotonous regularity every time he made a run, but the ref ignored it once again.
"it was odd to see a team three nil down take off the two players that were having any success"

Ned had to make another good stop after a blatant handball by a Torquay player was waived and he raced through on goal and a good block by Sam saved a free shot on goal. Marlon scored his debut goal for the third and he was delighted. He broke away on his own from the half way line as the visitors tried to push for a goal and he raced at the keeper one on one and feigned to pass the ball left, committing the keeper, then nutmegged him to make the game three nil to the Hartlepool. He certainly enjoyed his celebration. 

The Torquay centre half went into a tackle with Monky and got up shoving him around, as we all know Monky is not one to back down and the ref had to part half a dozen players from the melee. The next tackle again saw the defender go for Monky, who just stepped over his tackle and let fly at the goal, with a shot which went over the bar. Luke, chasing a ball down near the Town End corner flag, sidestepped his man who had been laying him out all afternoon, but lost the ball and like a Jack Russell he turned his man, nicked the ball from him and raced on into the box but his shot went wide. We had a succession of subs and it was odd to see a team three nil down take off the two players that were having any success against us, Benyon and Showumni, but it was good to see us get the three points even if the stats might show they had more of the play overall. But it is goals that count.

Man-of-the-match was given to Walker who had a decent game but the Ditchburn was right - it should have gone to Sam. Some good performances today but collectively we did give the ball away a little too easily which accounted for most of the pressure we saw on us. 

The Ditchburn Breeches
The Ditchburn claims we need two more like that and we are safe. He also said we should then forget about loan players and take a long hard look at what we have on the books now. Let the fans see what these players can do and let the fans judge for themselves who we keep and who we jettison in time for the next campaign. We have some very good young talent who can do a job for us but if you leave them in the stiffs surely they will not develop and we will never know.

One thing I would request is that the man with the fancy dan strides brings his own lucky charm with him “Cousin Ditchburn” who has 100% record in his visits to the Vic this season, notching up three wins and three draws to date. So long as he does not have to wear the Ditchburn strides. The truth of the matter is the original Ditchburn just dropped that little challenge in with the hope that Pools would score three against Newport so he could actually have an excuse to wear those Technicolor (TM) breeches.