Flying Start

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY at the Vic

Pools 2 Morecambe 0 (League 2) Saturday August 8th 2015


First of all I have an apology to make, after last weeks piece, Pre Season Blues. I was a tad critical of our new captain and striker Billy Paynter. You would think by now after quite a few seasons watching Pools I should know better.

Not every player enjoys playing friendlies, The have become a necessary part of the pre-season ritual which generates a few shillings for the clubs concerned and helps to get players fit after the summer lay off. Well, just maybe this season, when we have had ten new signings in the squad, I should ignore the poor fare served up in our pre-season games and wait until the season gets under way before I start offering my opinion on players. To my cost I have found it a foolish decision to criticise a player who looked as if he was idle, not bothered about the game, and would only be a burden as so many of our past signings over the years have been.

Today I was taught a lesson, “keep your opinions to yourself until you have all the facts". Today the new team captain makes me eat my words, as he played a blinder, scoring one and making another, in a fine two-nil win at home over Morecambe.

Billy Paynter led out the team with his own family as mascots, for his first captain’s job and a one hundredth career goal to boot. After winning the toss he led his troops up bank for the first half giving his team the downhill advantage in the second.

Some pre-game comments from the Ditchburn and his uncle Keith about the size and muscle in the new look team, and that we would be a hard team to bully off the ball this season.

It was a brisk start to the game, and a goal ruled offside by the visitors made it look a little too easy to break us down. We all knew he was well offside but with a brand new referee fresh from non-league football, we were not going to take any chances with Mr English.

Another chance for the visitors came shortly afterwards, when a cross was headed onto the Pools bar and was cleared. We were racking up a few unnecessary fouls and giving free kicks in dangerous positions, but I put this down to the ref, who had no idea there were two teams on the pitch, and the enthusiasm of our new recruits just back from army camp training.

Pools surprised quite a few people today in their application; we were linking players, carrying the ball swiftly up field and threatening their goal, putting them on the back foot with some great passing football played at speed, and some very deft touches, especially from Bingham.

Woods was superb today. After winning a hard fifty-fifty challenge he raced forward and his shot was blocked. Bingham, who was a real live wire throughout the game, picked up the rebound and with a deft scoop lifted the ball over the defenders, and the waiting Paynter headed it home. I wrote in the notes ‘ALL IS FORGIVEN.’ Pools then put into action their army training during the goal celebration, which a lot of people including me missed, but I did have notes to write. The sprog explained that as the lads celebrate, the goal scorer shouts ‘’GRENADE’’ and all the lads drop to the deck and start crawling like squaddies. Lets hope we see a lot more of this “ACTION” this season.

Pools were playing some very good football; it was team football, as it should be played, with everyone joining in. Duckworth had a great game and one track back he did with the dangerous Ellison, he chased him fifty yards, harried him all the way and robbed him of the ball deep in the Town End corner, and raced back up the wing, setting up a decent cross that was cleared by Morecambe.
" It was one of those games in which, if the opposition had taken only a few of their chances, we could have been beaten six-two. "

One small criticism would be our two central defenders at times got caught and turned back on our goal, putting us under pressure a few times by losing the ball.

Paynter was once again pulling the strings and set up Fenwick, whose shot was blocked. I have yet to see Carson play but the number two keeper seems to be doing a canny job. He looks confident and made some good saves. One, late in extra time, was a superb dive to his left to palm a ball away. Just on half time a Morecambe attacker broke through and had the goal at his mercy but he must have known he was miles offside and with no whistle he fluffed his effort well wide of the goal.

At the beginning of the second half the visitors really stepped up a gear and we lost our shape and looked less confident for a long spell. They were doing what we had been doing in the first half - putting us under pressure, and mistakes were abundant as we tried to get back in to the game.

Paynter once again used his experience to start to get us back in the game and a beautiful ball placed perfectly for Bingham who used his speed to slot the ball home, making it two nil to the Hartlepool. It was one of those games in which, if the opposition had taken only a few of their chances, we could have been beaten six-two.

As I said earlier, a great victory with some excellent football from Pools, four bookings was more down to a poor official, who was so bad he will probably turn up at the Vic about once a fortnight for the rest of the season.

You could pick anyone from five as Man of the Match: Bingham, Featherstone, Magnay, even Paynter, but my money was on Woods. Considering his injury last term the lad was involved in everything and made some wonderful tackles throughout the game.

Three points in the bag and all is well at the Vic.