A Familiar Story for Pools

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY at the Vic

Pools 1 Crawley 2 (League 2) Saturday October 24 2015

This afternoon saw the return of Shan Tan Walton, who looked more than a little overweight when Crawley Town visited the Vic. 

After Tuesday I was expecting a few changes, as we were so poor. In truth there is little to change with and as I am not the manager and fans do not understand management, I was underwhelmed when again I saw an unchanged side. 

In a discussion with the Ditchburn Poolie it was suggested that if we could have either two bad halves rather than one reasonable and one bloody awful as on Tuesday then at least we could be considered consistently good, or as in our case, consistently bad. I have no idea which. The fact is we are consistently poor in our application to this game of football. OK. You might say one defeat in three is not bad, but it is more the manner of the defeat that hurts. 

Today we played really well for fifteen minutes in the first half. We played well for a similar spell in the second half after going down to ten men; the rest of the game was poor. 

Ball watching is becoming the in thing and head tennis is shocking to watch. Don’t get me wrong there were a few passages of play during the game where we looked like a decent side but overall we lack anything that resembles a concerted threat on the opposition goal. 

Harrison was alert to catch an attacker who broke free with the ball, and with only Carson to beat, the centre back made a great tackle to cut out the threat. The visitors were taking control and shooting on sight with a few close calls whistling past the Carson goal. One incident saw Featherstone, facing his own goal, dally on the ball and be robbed of it, but Carson pulled off a good save. Carson fed Oates who made a great run down the line and his excellent shot brought a save from the Crawley keeper. 

Carson in action again made a lucky stop with his feet after the Crawley forward evaded tackles and shot from close range. How we managed to go in at the break even is beyond me. 

The half time consensus was it could and should have been nil four to the visitors. The folly of putting two subs on at the break was revealed to all today as Walker and Carroll were hooked for Woods and Banton. 
"overall we lack anything that resembles a concerted threat on the opposition goal"

Shortly afterwards Pools were a man down as Harrison looked to have handled the ball on the goal line and the ref had no hesitation in getting the red card out. From where I was there seemed to be no doubt and the ref made his mind up instantly, and as the story always goes, Shan Tan telly-tubby steps up to send Carson the wrong way and milk the adulation for all it was worth. Did he ever score from the spot for Pools?

Half an hour to play with ten men and a goal down - It was a familiar story for Pools, looking rather ragged in defence, and some disjointed defending set up another goal for the visitors. Typical Hartlepool luck. 

Whether it was anger or frustration, Pools started to put a little bite into their game. One incident I thought deserved a booking was when Jones was taken out of the game after being clattered deliberately by a Crawley forward and there was not even a word spoken to him.  Paynter, once again with his trademark ,looping header gave us a glimmer of hope as Pools, aided by an extra five minutes of added time tried hard to get back into the game. 

Woods made a great run into the box, evading three big tackles, as he was bundled to the ground and play was waved on. The lesser man turned out to be Shan Tan, who called for assistance after he made a back pass to Bingham, who should have scored, but the keeper saved his shot. Shan Tan always did like his glory moment, going off to the applause just before the end of the game. A showman to the end. 

Magnus also went close with a header at the death but it was another defeat and it has to be said that the visitors deserved it, as they wanted it more than we did.    

PS It is getting harder to do this stuff with the way we are playing. It is meant to be enjoyable. Humorous it isn't.