As I Seen It - Burton (a)


Burton Albion 3 - Pools 0   League Two  Saturday April 19th 2014

Match report by BILL THE BIRO at The Pirelli Stadium


In an atmosphere of doom and despondency I set out for what may well turn out to be my last-ever Pools league match. 

Ok I've been here before in previous seasons but this seems worse in the suddenness of it all. One month we're safe and still going for the playoffs and a few weeks later we're possibly relying on others to save us. 

Having driven past Burton many times but never been to the Pirelli Stadium, getting into the town wasn't a problem, but finding the ground was. Another Poolie later told me he'd had the same problem, and he's been there twice before! Perhaps some signposts might have been of use. Obviously either of the two satnavs I had in the car but chose not to use may also have helped. 

I was encouraged to see that Monky was playing and that Marlon wasn't. Pools started brightly as usual with Luke being up front on his own. Sam was commanding at the back and Walton's good-and-awful style was veering towards the good for once. Luke was his usual harrying self. Rafferty (whom I hadn't seen before) looked the part but had an air of uncertainty about him almost from the off. 

Disaster struck quite early on when Luke crashed into an advertising sign and didn't move until the physio had run across the pitch to him, and then took an age to get him on his feet. He did come back on, but not for long, and had to be helped off the pitch. 

As the sub was getting ready a young girl near me shouted out “God, no, not Marlon, Cooper, anyone but Marlon” to which I could only add “Hear, hear!” To be fair to Marlon, he did have a few touches, some even reaching Pools players, but two or three Marlons couldn't replace Luke. 

The first half was fairly even with Marlon having a good chance that could have resulted in a goal if he'd tried to do his job rather than trying the Brazilian stuff. 

Half an hour in, Burton got through our defence for one-nil. Pools were still in it for the remainder of the half, and into the second, but eventually they wilted and a competent but not exceptional Burton cruised to a comfortable victory. 
"In the middle, besides the unusually effective Walton, there was the unusually ineffective Monkhouse and the typically ineffective Poole and Franks"
There were still the odd moments for Pools. One breakaway took Burton by surprise and Poole blasted wide when it would have been as easy to score, but that was only ever going to be a consolation anyway. 

The Pools players applauded the fans at the end without advancing too far from the comfort of the centre circle as the boos rang out. 

As said earlier, Rafferty didn't fill me with confidence and I wouldn't pick him rather that a fit Flinders. 

At the back Holden struggled a bit, Duckworth was quite lively, Sam was a rock and Harrison did quite well. In the middle, besides the unusually effective Walton, there was the unusually ineffective Monkhouse and the typically ineffective Poole and Franks, which didn't help either Luke or Harewood much. Harewood, at one point, when a Pools break was on, started to amble towards the goal like he was on a country walk! 

I asked a couple of Poolies who I see regularly at away matches whether we'll stay up. The one, who sees most Pools away games, said “Quite the reverse, I think we're f****d”. The other, a Manchester United season ticket holder (and so knows about struggling teams), only sees Pools when they play in the Midlands, and thought they would survive. Nevertheless he and I did have a conversation, just in case, about the exact location of Forest Green (Nailsworth, apparently). 

I tend towards the negative view, and that our fate rests with Darrell Clarke and Bristol Rovers. I shall be in Hartlepool for a wedding on the day Pools play Exeter. That could be a very tense occasion, with smartphones much in evidence.