POOLS 2 - EAST THURROCK UTD 0   FA Cup  Saturday 8th November 2014

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY at The Vic


All the omens were there, up for the cup or a slip on the banana skin for Pools. The weather was awful on the way to the ground which made slip ups easy. 

Another visiting team turned us round in the first half once again taking away the advantage of us kicking down bank the second half. The Ditchburn Poolie knew little about the ref other than he was a non-league ref who would obviously favour the non-league side. 

East Thurrock sounds like a Scottish team but hail from darkest southern England. As some who had seen the previous evening's Warrington v Exeter game would have already realised, non-league football is of a better quality these days and we could be in for a tough afternoon. 

The opening exchanges were even and Thurrock were the first to try their luck with a long range shot after some good play from them. They came straight back at Pools after a wayward pass from Jones but the shot was wide of the mark. The Ditchburn thought the lad in goal for Thurrock looked about sixteen and a bit girlish in his pink strip, but this kid was good and brave to boot. 

Duckworth was the early star for Pools as he carved opening after opening, which were parried by the visitors. Both Duckworth and Franks tested the keeper, who manfully held his ground against any threat we had. On the break Thurrock almost took the lead with a great shot that had Ned beat but fortunately hit the post and bounced across the goalmouth and away. It was a typical end-to-end cup game as Thurrock again came back at Pools with some good passing football, something we lacked at times. 

The Ministry of Useless Information (Ditchburn) was trying to confuse me by telling anyone who would listen that about four hundred years ago Pools used the same strip as three other football teams. Don’t ask me why. 

Another Pools attack saw their keeper nick the ball off the head of Marlon, but the visitors looked like a very capable side. A long-range drive from Thurrock had Ned scrambling at his near post and he was lucky as he fumbled the ball round the post. As the game was progressing quotes of four-nil or a nil all draw were all that the pundits and Ditchburn could offer. Seeing as the Ditchburn had brought his lucky charm, cousin Keith, who has yet to see us get beat. He is a rare visitor to the Vic so I was hopeful. 

Schmeltz was a good foil for Marlon and he set up a good chance for Richards whose header sailed over the bar. Thurrock played good football and were a tight unit going forward. In fact at times they played better football than Pools, in particular their number ten, who was a thorn in the Pools side throughout the game. 

On the half hour mark we were struggling to get the ball clear and under a lot of pressure from the visitors. Franks broke the deadlock as Pools broke away from their own box and for once Franks, racing into the box, did not need that extra touch he invariably needs and hit a low shot past the diving Thurrock keeper. Once the goal was scored Pools seemed to settle and Duckworth, in good form, took the game to the visitors. 

Thurrock did not take long to get back in their stride and Ned was forced to make another good save from a strong Thurrock shot. Walker has not been the leading light we expected despite scoring last week he looked lethargic at times and along with quite a few of his team mates who had difficulty finding a team mate with a pass at times. "I bet Russ Green ...asked the keeper to give him a ring on Monday because he was the outstanding player in this cup-tie."

There was a foul on Walker as he shepherded the ball back to Flinders. He was sideswiped by the Thurrock centre forward who was obviously frustrated by the lack of real chances coming his way. Just before the break their keeper made two great stops from Marlon, one a drive from the edge of the box when Marlon tried to head the rebound back in but the young keeper made another superb save. 

The second half was a better show from the home side but we still lacked that killer instinct, Schmeltz had a great chance after Marlon set him up but his poor scuffed shot let him down. Featherstone impressed today and looks to be a handy signing, not afraid to have a shot when the opportunity is there. Walker, Duckworth and Schmeltz all had shies at the goal and were either high, wide or blocked by the inspired keeper. 

Buoyed by our lack of success in front of goal the visitors again came at Pools in numbers just when most of us were hoping they might tire and run out of steam but give them their due if this was going to be their cup final they were not going to go quietly and they really looked dangerous with some good flowing football. 

Marlon had the chance to settle the fans but once again the young keeper kept him at bay with a super diving save. Franks was very lucky with the second goal as Marlon out wide sent a cross into a crowded box. The cross was just a little high for the Thurrock keeper and he got his palms to it and it dropped perfectly behind him for Franks to hit it home. 

So Pools go into the hat and will probably draw Warrington away. But the two thousand eight hundred fans applauded both teams off the pitch after a great cup fight, which, to be honest, either team deserved to win on the day. It was a nice touch when the match sponsors voted Hughes, the Thurrock goalkeeper, man of the match. I bet Russ Green as he presented the lad with a watch asked the keeper to give him a ring on Monday because he was the outstanding player in this cup-tie. 

After the match the Thurrock lads, who stopped at Bradford to train on the way up ,were off on their coach to sample the night life at the Bigg market in the Toon before making their way back to the deep south. And they thoroughly deserved it.